Still Standing

This man pulls 19th-century logs from the bottom of the Ottawa River to make stunning hardwood floors

Jonny meets Gord Black in Bristol, QC to see how he reclaims ancient sunken timber and transforms them into sustainable hardwood flooring.

Jonny meets Gord Black in Bristol, QC who transforms ancient sunken timber into stunning flooring.

This man doesn't chop trees... he dives underwater to collect timber

2 years ago
Gord Black shows Jonny Harris how sunken 19th century logs can become sustainable hardwood flooring. 1:34

Logs End is the hardwood flooring company where many long-lost logs find a new beginning as stunning hardwood flooring. Gord Black, the owner of the company, takes Jonny Harris on a tour of the facility during his visit to Bristol, QC.

Black dives into the bottom of the Ottawa River to reclaim logs that sank during the Pontiac log driving era from almost 100 years ago. Back in those times, logging was a primary economic force that brought many workers into the community. After being cut down, logs were "driven" down the rivers to be transported to the lumber companies. But not every log made the journey.

"My guess is between two to three per cent of every log that was put into the river, sank," says Black.

Gord Black (left) operates a sustainable hardwood flooring company in Bristol, QC. (Chris Armstrong Photography)

But why does he go through all the trouble of getting this sunken timber?

"It's old growth wood, so it's a very dense wood, harder than the normal pine," explains Black. Essentially, it makes for high quality hardwood flooring. They don't make wood like they used to.

Black claims that he's done over 3,000 dives to harvest the waterlogged wood. But the hard work is all worth it. Black's company has installed sustainable flooring for famous hockey players and even — get this — Carrie Underwood.

"You carried Carrie Underwood underwater wood?" jokes Jonny.

Stream the entire episode on CBC Gem to meet some cuddly alpacas and see how true Canadian maple syrup gets harvested in Bristol, QC.

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