Maritime College of Forest Tech.
P: (506) 458-0658
F: (506) 458-0652
E: Michael Boucher
Rod Cumberland - Kettle boil, Vertical Chop and Deer
The Maritime College of Forest Technology is as rich in woodsmen history as most CILA institutions. The college was founded in 1946 right after the Second World War for training military personnel for jobs in the Maritime forestry sector. In the fall of 1963, UNB was to host its very first woodsmen’s competition and the Ranger School would be there. MFRS sent a team of 6 men: Dick Carrol, Inar and Lloyd MacDonald, Ken Demolitor, Edgar Banfield and Leonard Butcher. They won their very first woodsmen competition by edging out the UNB woodsmen by a mere 4 points!
Building on their first year success, in 1964 the MFRS took 2 teams to compete at UNB and this time they handily won the contest – 733 points compared to the second place UNB team at 688. The MFRS “B” team captured third place as well. However, given the college’s illustrious start, things gradually subsided, and for a number of years there was no team at the college. Being a student-operated team with no budget or varsity status when there was little interest, no team would exist.
Then, in 1985, the Ranger School hired a woods boss to manage forestry operations on the UNB woodlot – Arnold Dunphy. Arnold was a professional lumberjack competitor and was very dominant in the provincial circuit. He found the students lots of competition gear, filed their crosscuts and bucksaws, and helped the team with the basics of the events. Once again the Ranger school was sending teams to UNB, but their success was quite different than in the 1960’s. Because the program was so demanding, students had little time to devote to practice. Therefore, MCFT would win the occasional event – usually the chain saw event or orienteering – but were not considered real contenders for the overall awards.
The next bright light came in 1989 when MFRS under the leadership of Vince Power sent a team to the University of Vermont for a spring contest, and at this show they would hook up with a protégé of Arnold’s - Rod Cumberland. Arnold was teaching Cumberland how to file and chop while he was a student and captain of the UNB woodsmen’s team. Although the UNB team was also competing, Cumberland saw that the MFRS team had a shot at winning the contest, and loaned the MFRS team their winning crosscut and bucksaw blades and helped the MFRS team capture their first overall contest win since 1964 – after a 25 year drought.
MFRS then hired Mike Boucher to succeed Dunphy in 1991. Mike gave the team what help he could muster, began to bring in outside coaching and purchased some gear from Tuatahi. In 2008, the Ranger School rebranded and became the Maritime College of Forest Technology (MCFT) and became members of the CILA league. Since 2008, MCFT usually would be contenders for the CILA noon Challenge where schools would pit their best woodsmen against those from the other colleges with their new gear and coaching tips. However, MCFT workload still kept the team from attending all the CILA contests, and therefore were never contenders for CILA awards.
This changed in 2012 when the college hired Rod Cumberland as the lead wildlife instructor for the Advanced wildlife program. Cumberland also took up coaching the team and began regular practices. With the generous help of Asplundh – the team purchased Mercier crosscuts and Tuatahi axes and 2015 – 51 years after the first MFRS team won UNB, the MCFT men’s team won the 50th Annual UNB Intercollegiate Woodsmen’s competition. Team members included Nic Comeau, Devon Hayman, Dave MacDonald, Opey Boyd, Matt Hall and Thomas Bowmaster. While MCFT still faces numerous obstacles (annual budget of $3,000, heavy scholastic workload and inability to attend all contests) MCFT still manages to turn heads and stay in the hunt for hardware at CILA contests at UNB and DAC.