RANGELEY — The Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum inducted Luc Morin of Weld and Leo Pepin, formerly of Stratton, into the Logger’s Hall of Fame on July 25 during the evening program of the Logging Festival.
Begun in 1985, the Logger’s Hall of Fame honors people who have worked in the woods for a significant part of their lives and who have made valuable contributions to lumbering in the western Maine mountains.
This year’s awardees join a distinguished list of local woodsmen that includes Robert Wilbur, William Spiller, Elijah White Jr., Wendell Steward and Richard Hale.
Born in 1925 in Saint-Martin, Quebec, Luc Morin began work in the woods at 16 cutting 500 cords of wood with a young man his age. “I love land, I love the woods,” he said. “In the woods, I was home. Period.”
Morin worked around Rumford when he first came to the United States in 1948, and he also worked in Bingham and Jackman. He trucked wood for Oxford Pulp and Paper in 1954, but he wanted to work on his own.
First he bought a horse, and then a John Deere tractor. His business prospered, and he logged all over western Maine and a little in eastern New Hampshire. “I never went far,” he smiles, emphasizing how he loves where he lives. At the height of his work, he had three skidders going; now, he keeps one in operation with the help of his grandson, Blaine Virgin.
Work in the woods was always interesting and new to Morin: “Every tree is a different deal!” He prefers selective cutting to clear cuts: “A wood lot is like a garden. You have to take the weeds out.” He advises young loggers to turn from “big equipment and get smaller!”
Morin built his log home in Weld and still cuts his own firewood. A dedicated fisherman, he built two fish ponds on his land and connected them with a spillway.
Born in Notre-Dame-Des-Bois, Quebec, Leo Pepin (1930-2012) began work in the woods at 14 alongside his father and uncle. When he was still living in Woburn, Quebec, Pepin worked on the flowage at Flagstaff Dam project in 1948-49, cutting wood with bucksaws and then chain saws. In 1953, Pepin, with his wife Lucille (Desrochers) and sons, moved to Stratton and worked for Warren Tuff of Kingfield.
When he logged with horses near Madrid, Pepin’s family lived with him in the woods — two young boys and no running water. Later, he worked for Norman Latandresse, then for the Forster Company, with Dick Lowell as woods boss.
In 1958, Pepin started his own business, logging for Beaudry Lumber on the Gold Brook Road and then for the Brown Paper Company, where he jobbed for many years. He began his business with horses, but in the mid-1960s he bought a Timberjack skidder and later added road-building equipment.
His two oldest boys, Claude and Luc, worked with him on their days off from school, running loaders, graveling roads and more. In 1984, Pepin sold his logging business and worked almost 20 years for Andrew and Adrian Brochu.
An avid hunter and fisherman, he spent many days after he retired catching salmon and trout on Lake Azicohos with his wife and, in the winter, hunting coyotes.