Log Max Machinery Rep a Key Player in Bringing 19th Century Ship Figurehead Home to New Brunswick

Richard Hunter (left), a leading authority on naval and merchant ship figureheads and the man who restored the Prince Victor figurehead shown in the middle, shakes hands with Rob Moran who led the effort to return the restored 19th century treasure home, from England to its place of origin, St. Martins, New Brunswick, Canada
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MONCTON, New Brunswick – What next? That seems to be the question that guides Rob Moran, a sales representative and part owner of Log Max Forestry, Inc.

Rob breathes life into Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetic reminder that in a world so full of wondrous things we should all be as happy as kings (or princes). In 2017, he added author to his long list of endeavors.

Hope Restored: The Ship Prince Victor, Its Iconic Figurehead and the Maritime Heritage of St. Martins, New Brunswick (Hawthorne Lane Publishing) is above all an account that illustrates what happens when one man follows a passion. Once Rob learned the figurehead existed, he wanted to get it back to New Brunswick where it had been built.

Rob’s connection to the Prince Victor figurehead was personal. His great-greatgrandfather, James H. Moran, had built the ship in 1870 in St. Martins, New Brunswick. (He did not build the figurehead.)

The service of the ship ended in 1887 on the Severn River in England. The ship ran aground in shallow water and rolled over. It may have been carrying too heavy a load of petroleum barrels. The river pilot at the helm was exonerated. The captain of the ship lost his wife and son.

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By 1888, the ship was sold to a breaker. The figurehead was removed and remained in England until a few years ago.

In 2014, Rob first learned the figurehead existed and that it had been purchased by the Hunter Figurehead Archives. After being contacted by Richard Hunter, the owner of the figurehead, who was trying to figure out the provenance of the piece, the local museum in St. Martins got in touch with Rob’s father.

Rob’s father was skeptical of the validity of the inquiry. But Rob wanted to know more. “I always enjoyed history,” he said. “It didn’t matter – from Greek mythology to Native American history.” He was interested.

The owner of the figurehead wanted to restore it and sell it at auction. When Rob became certain the figurehead originated in New Brunswick, he wanted to repatriate it.

So began Rob’s ardent endeavor to secure funding and get the figurehead home. There were many calls, conversations, emails and meetings in those efforts to procure finances, and at times Rob grew tired and exasperated. However, the floodgates opened after Rob met Harold E. Wright, a well-known Saint John historian, who put him in touch with various media outlets. Through the media the word of the project went out, and the funding came in. The rest is history and Rob wrote about the process.

Weighing 700 pounds, the torso replica of Prince Victor is seven feet seven inches tall. It is made of pine.

“Originally, a lot of figureheads were constructed using hardwoods, such as oak,” said Rob. “However, later on white pine soon became the wood of choice due to its lighter weight, even and straight grained [character].”

Being moderately soft, white pine could also be cut more easily, said Rob. “It also had minimal shrinkage and swelling and could withstand rough treatment. It was very durable.”

The figurehead was made like most in the day. Rob explained that the blocks for the wooden arms were fastened to the main block with wooden dowels. Then the wood was carved. Iron pins were used to secure the figurehead to the ship.

Rob’s book, Hope Restored… recounts the effort it took to get the figurehead to its new owner, the Quaco Museum in St. Martins. It includes a primer on shipbuilding history in St. Martins with a special emphasis on the participation by Rob’s greatgreat- grandfather and other members of the Moran family. The book also relates the voyages of the Prince Victor, prior to its loss in the Severn River, and the salvaging of the figurehead. (There’s even a chapter on some amazing coincidences that emerged along the way to the repatriation and the book.)

Repatriation accomplished in August 2016, Rob did not immediately think about writing a book about his efforts. But colleagues in historical groups had been encouraging him to do so. One person in particular, Graeme Somerville was determined to persuade.

“[Graeme] believed in the project from the beginning and had financially contributed to the figurehead fund-raising campaign,” said Rob. “He chased me for four to five months to write the story down. He would say, ‘Nobody else can. You know all the details…and so on.’”

Graeme died just six days before the figurehead reached the museum. But his prodding and encouraging words kept playing in Rob’s thoughts.

By late fall in 2016, Rob had begun writing. When he shared text with local historians, such as Dr. Gregg Finley (who had written on shipbuilding in St. Martins), they told him to keep writing.

In was Rob’s mother, Linda Moran, who connected him to Carmel Vivier, an editor who had established her own publishing company. And he soon had a publisher. Just ten weeks after Rob finished the manuscript, the book was published.

Although Rob said he had a bit of trepidation about plunging into book writing, he admits he thought he might have the wherewithal to accomplish the project. “When I get something in my head, I can be a pretty tenacious guy,” he explained.

In 1959, Rob’s father went to The Maritime Forest Ranger School in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Aspiring to also be a ranger, Rob attended the same school in 1986. Ranger service rules precluded him getting a job in the same region as his father, however, so Rob looked for a different path.

Rob worked for a time as a field supervisor and scaler for J D Irving, Ltd.-Woodlands Division. He then worked for Rocan Forestry. Following that experience, he went to work for Log Max.

“I work for Log Max Forestry Inc., based out of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada,” explained Rob. “I am also part owner in this company. Sometimes when people say ‘Log Max’ they think Sweden – in other words, the manufacturer of one of the products that we sell.”

Moncton is a town of 72,000. It is located on the Petitcodiac River, which meets the Gulf of St. Lawrence. New Brunswick is one of the Maritime Provinces. The other two are Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Log Max AB, which is based in Grangärde, Sweden, manufactures a wellknown line of single-grip, harvesting and processing heads. The U.S. supplier of Log Max products from Sweden is located in Vancouver, Wash.

When Rob began cutting firewood with his father, he was using a chain saw. He explained that he has been in the wood products industry long enough to appreciate its amazing transformation. The advent of mechanized harvesting is certainly one noteworthy change. And Log Max has long been one of the key contributors to the efficiency and safety mechanization affords.

To accommodate harvesting operations of all types, Log Max offers its singlegrip harvesting and processing heads in a range of sizes. There is the ‘modest’ Log Max 7000XT. And there is the Log Max 10000XT, which cuts wood up to 35.4 inches in diameter. Both harvester and dedicated processor versions of the Log Max 10000XT have an integrated top saw.

Then, there is the Log Max 12000XT, which is built to handle big trees or multistem approaches. Its aggressive roller is made of V-steel and has studs that sink deeper in the trunk.

Although his company is based in Moncton, Rob is a native of St. Martins. “A lot of people don’t realize that this small lobster and fishing village today – with a population of just under 300 – was once renowned as one of the richest villages in the British Empire,” said Rob of St. Martins.

“At the time during the Golden Age of Sail, St. Martins produced [one of the largest number of] wooden sailing vessels in New Brunswick, second only to Saint John, New Brunswick,” explained Rob. Today, one must visit the local museum to see the history of shipbuilding.

Founded with the name Quaco, St. Martins is not without a tie to its original moniker. There is the Quaco Museum, for instance.

Rob is a past-president of the Quaco Historical and Library Society, having served for four years. His wide-ranging interests go well beyond forestry, forestry equipment, history and ships.

An avid participant in martial arts, Rob recently earned a second-degree black-belt in Yoshinkan Aikido, and is a Sensei at Saint John Aikido. He said martial arts training may have helped him keep his focus as he worked on the book.

Rob is already at work on another book. He will only tell us that it has a maritime, nautical theme.

One of the great joys in working on the repatriation of the figurehead was the ability to travel and explore leads to information and resources with his wife, Tami Moran, and his two sons, said Rob. Sons Matthew Moran and Anthony Moran were teens when the project began. And Rob said he hopes his diligence set a good example.