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Brian Whyte (Braeside Resident) 1980-1989

A brick saw mill building is surrounded by heaps of sawdust with a water tower and refuse burner in winter.

Steam rises from the main mill and dry kilns on a crisp winter day at Gillies Mill, circa 1980.


Brian drove slowly through the gates to the mill while scanning the yard for someone to tell him how negotiations were going with the union. Out of the 240 employees at Gillies, 185 were members of the International Woodworkers of America. They were looking for an immediate raise of 50 cents per hour and further raises over the next two years.

He could usually find someone willing to chat at the debarker, so he headed towards the shoreline. He’d just been visiting with his friend Gerald Desjardins who was filling up his truck with water to deliver to his customers in the village. Gerald’s left leg was bothering him again, an old war wound that ached in this damp, cold weather.

Two old tug boats rest on wooden logs beside a dilapidated wooden shed at the shoreline in winter.

Two old tug boats stored for winter beside Gillies Bros. jack ladder, circa 1980.


Brian chewed over the memory of how he got just 77 cents an hour when he started at the mill in 1957. He was skeptical that the company would agree to the union’s latest demands for better wages.

Later, he had to go up to the R. A. Centre to see how preparations were going for the Braeside Winter Carnival. He’d agreed to flip pancakes with Bill ‘Le Chef Pierre’ Meek in the morning, and was playing hockey in the afternoon. He hoped to have some good news to share by then.