Rama Timber Transport Company


Rama Timber Transport Company

The Rama Timber Transport Company was a Canadian canal and railway company that was incorporated in 1868 to construct and operate the Black River & Lake St. John Canal & Portage Tramway.

The sole purpose of the company was to transport logs from the Black River and its tributaries to the waters of Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe in Rama Township, located in the former County of Ontario.

The idea for a canal was initiated by Bell Ewart lumberman Henry W. Sage. After a decade of intensive logging on Lake Simcoe, the availability of timber in the region was shrinking. To supply his mill, Sage purchased timber berths in Oakley Township Muskoka, in October 1866. Sage's plan was to float the timber down the Black River from Oakley, not realizing the Black River does connect with Lake Couchiching, but flows to the Green River, about a mile below the outlet of Lake Couchiching, at Washago.

At first Sage considered removal of his mill at Bell Ewart to a site near the confluence of the two rivers. Lumber from there would still have to be transported to the Northern Railway at Bell Ewart. To gain support for his idea of building the canal, Sage wrote to Bradford lumberman Thompson Smith, owner of timber along the Black River and Head River. In a letter to Thompson Smith, Sage wrote: "with the canal built there will be plenty to do, without it I think business will be limited."

Officials of the Northern Railway of Canada also supported the canal idea since the decline of timber on Lake Simcoe had also led to a decline of revenue for the railway.

An Act to Incorporate the Rama Timber Transport Company, was passed by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, March 4th, 1868. Shareholders of the Company, as listed in the charter, included: Henry W. Sage, owner of the Bell Ewart mill; DeWitt Linn, Sage's (brother in law) mill manager; Thompson Smith, of the Bradford mills; Frederick William Cumberland, Managing Director of the Northern Railway; William Lount, an Orillia barrister;along with Humphrey Lloyd Hime; Dalrymple Crawford and S. W. Farell.

The first director's meeting of the Company, took place at Orillia, in November 1868. The directors were listed as, F. W. Cumberland; H. W. Sage; Thompson Smith; John Thomson, of Longford Mills and Clarence Moberly, Chief Engineer of the Northern Railway.

The inclusion of Moberly to the board of directors, offers a hint to the lack of details of the construction of the "mile long" canal. A "750 foot long" railway (the "Portage Tramway") was constructed across the neck of land between the north-west corner of Lake St. John and Portage Bay on Lake Couchiching. Logs from the Black River began flowing through the canal in April, 1869.


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