Caul earns ‘three-peat’ in loggers’ competition

If there was any doubt as to who the king of the bush is in Rainy River District, those doubts were laid to rest Friday when Kelvin Caul of Devlin emerged on top of the annual loggers’ competition at the Emo Fair for the third-straight year.
It also marked the fifth time he’s won the overall title in the past 10 years.
Caul took top individual honours in the axe chop as well as his specialty, the pulpwood toss, where he easily beat second-place finisher Wes Smith of Northwest Bay by more than four metres.
Caul has won that event every year since he began competing in the loggers’ competition.
He was equally dominant in the axe chop, where his time of 20.32 seconds was more than six seconds better than runner-up Orville Smith. Duane Loveday was third in that event.
Caul also took second-place honours in the speed powersaw and pole-felling events.
He then teamed up with his brother, Jim, to win the tea boil. They also took second place in the crosscut saw event.
Caul traditionally teams up with his son, Jason, who was unavailable to compete this year because he’s currently in the bush fighting forest fires.
However, Caul said he expects his son to be back next year since Jason finished second to his dad in the overall standings in 2004.
This year was Jim Caul’s first attempt at the popular event and he finished as top rookie.
Kelvin Caul said he expects to be back next year with Jason once again as his partner in the team events while his brother is planning to find his own partner so he also can come back.
The weather was more of a factor than in years past, but Caul said it wasn’t a problem for him except in the tea boil, when the rain made it difficult for all the teams to get their fires started.
In fact, Caul said he rather relished the lower temperatures as a pleasant change from previous years.
“The rain was nice and cool,” he remarked.
Like all the loggers in Friday’s competition, Caul had nothing but admiration and respect for the “Old Man of the Bush”—77-year-old Gaston Godbout—who put on an impressive showing in his own right.
“He’ll never retire,” Caul said of Godbout. “He’s still pretty good.”
In fact, the former overall champion was good enough to take three individual events outright and then teamed up with his grandson, Loveday, to capture a fourth place in the crosscut saw.
The Caul brothers took second in that event while Orville and Wes Smith from Northwest Bay teamed up to finish third.
Godbout also won the Safe Logger Award given out each year by the Rainy River District Logging Safety Committee, one of the sponsors of the event, to the logger who best practices safety and awareness throughout the competition.
In the speed powersaw event, Godbout’s time of 8.44 seconds was nearly a full second better than Caul’s second-place effort—and broke his own speed record in the process.
Loveday finished third.
Godbout also took the bucksaw in near-record time, as well as the axe throw.
In the latter event, he was the only competitor to use a one-handed technique and it appeared to pay off as he scored 15 out of a possible 18 points on this three throws.
Caul had tied for second with Orville Smith of Northwest Bay, but wound up in third after Smith edged him out in a tie-breaker.
After the competition, Godbout was faced with the obvious question: will he be back next year?
“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “I’m 77 years old, but if I feel good, I guess I will.”
Looking even further ahead, will we still see him here when he’s 80?
“I don’t know about that,” Godbout chuckled. “I’d sure like to. It gives me something to do.”
In the other events, Loveday successfully defended his title in the chair carve event, with Godbout coming second and Caul third.
The chair carve is not a speed event. Instead, the loggers are judged on the artistry and function of the chair they carve out of a single log with a chainsaw.
In the pole-felling, Curtis Smith of Northwest Bay took top honours when he managed to drop his cedar pole smack on top of the target peg.
Caul and Godbout both scored side hits on the peg to take second and third place, respectively.