Kristin Wilson (President)
Faculty of Forest Engineering
University of New Brunswick
P.O. Box 4400
Fredericton, New Brunswick
UNB is home to a unique and undying breed of forester … The UNB Woodsman. These rugged folk of the woods relive a large part of the history and tradition of the New Brunswick Lumberjack. The roots of the team stem from an event called Faculty night held during Forestry Week back in the early 1960’s.
Faculty night involved faculty and students alike trying their hand at lumberjack events. Interest in competition was spurred on by the keenness of Joe Trevors. He and a few other students – Hans Anvik, Gordon Franklin, Bernie Wannington, Lorne Crawford and an unknown woodsman formed the first recorded team of woodsmen at UNB and headed to Montreal in the winter of 1962. They returned from their first competition with a second place finish. As a fledgling team, crafted, coached and organized by UNB Forestry students themselves, the UNB Foresters proved beyond a shadow of doubt that they were a force to be reckoned with. The boys from UNB that year had no idea the heritage they had just began.
While the UNB woodsmen were busy with axes and saws, another natural-born leader - Timothy Easley was busy planning a collegiate competition to be hosted by the UNB forestry crew. On a beautiful fall day in October in 1963, teams from UMO, The Maritime Forest Ranger School, MacDonald College and a few others were invited to UNB’s first competition. The crew from UMO captured first place in the log splitting and canoe race which was held on the St. John River in front of the Cathedral. The boys from MacDonald College captured first in the kettle boil, log deck and log chopping. UNB B team won the swede saw and chain throw, while the UNB A team bested all in the chainsaw event. The surprise of the day came as Joe’s old team at the Ranger school won the crosscut saw, but placed well in most other events to squeak by the host team UNB A by 4 points and win the first ever UNB Intercollegiate woodsmen’s competition with 736 points. The MFRS team was captained by Dick Carrol, and he was joined by Inar and Lloyd MacDonald, Ken Demolitor, Edgar Banfield and Leonard Butcher. UNB Woodsmen at their first home show would finish in second place.
Joe would be followed by other legends at UNB including Nova Scotia’s Jim MacLeod, Victor Sommerville, Bruce Chisholm, Larry Armstrong and the Alexander Brothers. Judy Loo became instrumental in forming the first UNB Women’s team in 1976 along with Rita Ebbett, Jane Lloyd-Smith, Wanda Veers, Marg Gleeson, and Jeannie Brummitt. Judy and Jane remained the backbone of the women’s team for 4 more years, and Rita returned in 1981 to lead the ladies for several years.
Coach and captains of the team since the 1970’s include Pete Hamilton, Brent Thompson, Jim Ketterling, Rod Cumberland, Leigh Black, John Walker, Hugh Hawley, Nick Russell, Pierre Mezetta, Marcus Zwicker, Colby MacDonald and Dave Patriquin, just to name a few. Several ladies kept the women in hand for extended periods and include Irene Strucel, Joanne Haines, Alison Luke, Cindy Fife, Nancy Ouelette, Jenn Bedard and Katherine Spencer.
The UNB woodsmen take great pride in their team’s leadership. Members are annually elected to executive positions and every year these chosen woodsmen hold tryouts in the fall to pick anywhere from 2 – 4 teams. The woodsmen operate on funds raised solely by the team. Everything including the first CILA competition of the year at UNB is organized by students. Team member’s volunteer anywhere between 10 to 200+ hours a year doing fundraising activities, assisting on team trips and repairing equipment. One of the keys to the success of the team is the loyal sponsors that, year after year, help with substantial donations. These include STIHL Limited, J.D. Irving Limited, the UNB Student Union, as well as many esteemed Alumni. The team is also helped every year by such professionals as Donald Lambert, and Rod Cumberland.
Although self-coached, UNB has retained a reputation as champions within the intercollegiate circuit. Time and space does not permit a listing of all their overall awards, but most memorable is the stranglehold they held on the UNB competition from 1986 through 1995, and also being CILA champions in 2001 and again in 2008. Many UNB Woodsmen graduates have continued UNB’s winning ways at professional lumberjack sports. You may have watched Dave MacLeod, Leigh Black, John Walker, Rod Cumberland and Nick Russell on ESPN, OLN and other outdoor channels compete in STIHL Timbersports across the country.
UNB woodsmen carry a pride that lasts a lifetime.