At the very beginning of Hearst's history, before 1921, the town had only one mill, owned by Mr. Simmons. Mr. Simmons was the only employee of the mill and cut wood for the few inhabitants of the town. This mill was later sold to Mr. Huard. Shortly after, in 1921, a second mill was established in Wyborn. Logging and agriculture quickly became the main sources of income for Hearst residents.
Since the end of the Second World War, the town of Hearst and its surroundings have gradually become a leader in the lumber industry. However, unlike many other northern Ontario communities, which owe their development to the establishment of large, often American paper mills, the Hearst region’s growth was driven by small, mostly French-Canadian entrepreneurs. These lumbermen established their sawmills and factories and watched them grow over the years, thus ensuring the community’s growth and prosperity.
Wilfried Bergeron presents a prime example of this dogged approach to life. Having worked in lumber for several companies such as Nicholson and Spruce Falls, Wilfried toiled from 1939 to 1946, building his own sawmill on the Lost River near the Concession 14 and 15 bridge. The sawmill, which was relocated in 1947 and after several years in operation, was subsequently abandoned.
In 1974, Wilfried’s son Lucien decided to resurrect the sawmill and undertook various repairs and modifications to the old machinery. Having successfully landed a sawing contract for Spruce Falls, Lucien cut his first log on May 28th, 1976. A decade later, Lucien decided to operate his sawmill independently as MOULIN À SCIE - Bergeron's - LOGGING SAWMILL in Harty, where both his children and grandchildren worked until the mill made its last cut in June 2008.
Photo : McCord Museum.