New Brunswick

Shifty-eyed lumberjacks: 5 burning questions about Team N.B.'s Canada Games pins

Think of a symbol that represents New Brunswick. What comes to mind? Is it a burly, bearded, axe-wielding lumberjack?

We demand answers.

The lumberjack and "lumberjill" have been selected as the official design for Team New Brunswick pins at the 2019 Canada Games. (Submitted)

Think of a symbol that represents New Brunswick. What comes to mind?

A lighthouse, maybe. A boat. A black-capped chickadee?

What about a burly, bearded, axe-wielding lumberjack?

A cartoon lumberjack and female "lumberjill" — sporting tuques and carrying menacing tools of the trade — are the official team pins for New Brunswick athletes at the 2019 Canada Games in Red Deer.

It's an interesting choice. And we have questions. The first being:

1. Why lumberjacks?

The short answer, according to Team New Brunswick communications lead Bruce MacFarlane, is "that's what the design people came up with … forestry is a popular source of employment here."

Another contender was a puffin — a bird rarely seen in New Brunswick except on Machias Seal Island.

Denise Miller of the Kingston Peninsula "comes from a long line of lumberjacks."

Her family owned the Waddell Mill at Reed's Point, and "my great uncle Bung [Waddell] I would consider a lumberjack. He's 85 and still goes out into the woods with his chainsaw pants on and does his thing."

The Waddell sawmill in Kingston, N.B., operated by the family of Denise Miller, who has 'stacked a lot of wood in [her] lifetime.' (Submitted by the John Fisher Memorial Museum)

She said she doesn't really see the connection with Team New Brunswick.

"I guess lumberjacks are tough? Lumberjills are obviously tough? It never dawned on me to compare [lumberjacks] to an athlete."

None of the athletic events at the 2019 Winter Games, MacFarlane confirmed, involve axes.

2. Why are they cut up?

Two characters carrying axes with severed heads, arms and torsos could lead some imaginations in a disturbing direction. 

"Why are they chopped up? The pieces are concerning. What happened? Did they have a fight?" Miller asked.

There's no need to worry, according to MacFarlane.

"What we've noticed is that other teams have used multiple-piece pins in the past and Team New Brunswick decided to try something new," he said.

It's an interesting choice. And we have questions. 1:29

Trading pins, according to MacFarlane, is the "unofficial sport" of the Canada Games.

The pins have a total of eight pieces, including a Team NB logo and stylized New Brunswick boat insignia.

Ross Harris, the owner of Loyalist City Coins and Books in Saint John and an expert on collectible pins, said the dismembered lumberjacks are "unique."

Ross Harris, who does brisk business in vintage pins at Saint John shop Loyalist City Coins and Books, said the lumberjack pins are 'unique' and 'fairly collectible.' (Julia Wright / CBC)

"It's probably going to make them fairly collectible simply because people are going to want to get them all and put it together," he said.

"I haven't seen one like that before."

3. What's a lumberjill?

Neither the Merriam Webster or Oxford English Dictionary contain an entry for the word "lumberjill."

Urban Dictionary — a less authoritative source — defines a "lumberjill" as "the female equivalent to a lumberjack," and, in this case, one with red lipstick and more than a passing resemblance to Lois Griffin from the hit animated TV show Family Guy.

The lumberjill bears a certain resemblance to Lois Griffin. (Submitted/YouTube)

4. What's with the facial expression?

Both the lumberjack and lumberjill seem to shun direct eye contact — instead gazing to the side with a shifty expression. 

Would you trust this face? (Submitted)

According to MacFarlane, the sidelong looks indicate their steely determination.

"He's a man on a mission. Same with the lumberjill."

5. Where's their safety gear?

While the Canada Games/Red Deer/Team New Brunswick branded gear might be stylish — it's not practical for serious logging activity, according to Miller.

"The axe is cool, but they have no safety pants on and no chainsaw boots," she said.

"I'm a little concerned about their attire. This has worker's compensation written all over it."

That said — Miller would "support Team New Brunswick no matter what."

There's no doubt the pins will be a conversation starter, according to MacFarlane, when the games get underway on Feb. 15.

"We feel that the lumberjack and lumberjill are going to be the hottest trading pins in Red Deer."

About the Author

Julia Wright

Information Morning Saint John host

Julia Wright is a lifelong Saint Johner and the host of Information Morning Saint John. She has been with the CBC since 2016.

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