Life in Camp
The members of the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) had to live in the wilderness for many months of the year. They had to do everything for themselves: cooking, cleaning, as well as packing, moving and setting up camp.
They brought along some foods that last a long time, like salt pork and dried biscuit. These were the same foods that sailors took on long sea voyages. It was a boring diet, so they also hunted whatever animals they found around them and gathered plants to eat.
One of Logan's Mi'kmaq guides, John Basque, was not only an expert canoeist, but also a good hunter and cook. Basque knew how to cook many kinds of birds, fish and animals such as porcupine. He also used local plants such as wild chives to give the meals more flavour.
Camp was an important workplace. At night and on rainy days, Logan went over his notes and maps. He also wrote down what rocks he had looked at, made entries in his journal and wrote letters to government officials and relatives.
After working in the field for many months, the crew's clothing would get more and more torn and battered. It would have been hard to know that these men were geologists. They looked very different from the educated gentlemen that many of them were.
GSC members were proud of the hard work and many discomforts they faced while doing their scientific work. The crews were made up entirely of men. At this time in history women were thought to be too weak for this kind of work. Also, it was not considered proper to be alone in the wilderness with men who were not relatives. Times have changed.
- Alfred Selwyn (GSC director, 1869-1895) once had a horse eat one of his field notebooks!
- Visitors to Logan's Montréal office were often surprised by the large number of worn boots lining the office walls. Robert Bell, another geologist, noted that Logan walked so far that he wore out more boots than clothes while working in the field!