birch n [ = Betula papyrifera, white birch; B. lutea, yellow
birch or WITCH-HAZEL] DAE ~ bark (1643-), ~ broom (1809-); DC ~ rind (1692-); NID
birchwood n 2.
Attrib, comb, cpd birch bark: see birch
1612 Willoughby Papers [Guy's narrative]
Theire canoaes are about 20 foote long, 4 foote [and] a halfe broad in the middle alofte,
for theire keele, [and] timbers they have thinne lighte peeces of dry firre rended, as yt
weare lath and in steede of boorde they vse the vtter bitche barke which is thinne [and]
hath many foldes, sowed together. 1863 HIND [i] 50 I wrapped the furs in birch-bark, and
tied the bundle at the end of a large branch twice as high as myself from the ground.
1873 HOWLEY MS Reminiscences 27 (a) John undertook to prove to me that he could
[cook salmon] in a birch bark pot. He procured a large sheet of bark, folded it at the
ends in such a manner as to form an oblong dish. The folded ends were kept in place by
being pinned lightly with small split sticks. 1907 MILLAIS 66 ... de men in the Bay were
out that night lookin' for Noah wi' birch bark torches.
besom [phonetics unavailable]: broom made with birch or alder twigs.
T 43/7-64 What they swept the house with was called a birch besom.
That was the name on it that the women used to havea birch besom. C 69-17 People
made their own brooms from alder branches; these brooms were called birch bisoms. You
could pick the twigs to make the broom at any time and in any month with the exception of
May. It was taboo to pick the alder branches in May as this would cause a death in the
birch billet: a length of wood cut for fuel; JUNK.
T 49-64 They used to cut stuff and take it up to St John's in the
spring o' the yearbirch billetsand sell them. T 14-64 One of these old
Waterloo stoves would take a birch billet probably two feet long. 1977 BUTLER 86 I made a
bargain with the men owing me money to cut birch billets for thirty cents per hundred.
birch broom: see birch besom.
1910 Nfld Qtly Oct, p. 19 There are no scandals now like the
sale of Army commissions or flagrant jobs for Army contractors. The War Office could not
at the present time send out a flagstaff for Quebec, or birch brooms at 7s. 6d. a dozen
to Canada, when their price in the colonies was one-tenth of that sum. 1937 DEVINE 11
Instead of an ad. in the paper (to sell schooner], as in modem times, the old birch broom
used in sweeping the deck was hoisted to the mast-head. T 43/7-64 'Twas all birch broom
[then]. Ye'd go in the woods and pick the small birch and make your broom. C 67-6 A birch
broom was made by cutting small alder 'gads,' binding them together by interweaving other
alder gads, trimming off the bottom and driving a handle into this bundle. 1970 JANES 21
Her crinkly hair was, in the language of that time, like a birch broom in the fits.
birch drum: in the fish trade with Brazil, cylindrical
wooden container in which dried cod are packed. See also DRUM n 1.
T 90-64 We made birch drums, half drumshalf quintal
drumsand whole quintal drums: they were for the Brazil market.
birch hoop: strip of birch fastened around barrel or fish
1975 RUSSELL 52 Because after all, how was I to know that a
good firm birch hoop off a five quintal fish cask wouldn't make a reasonable substitute
for these crinolines?
birch junk: see birch billet;
T 45/6-64 This feller empted the barrel, empted the beef
out o' the brin bags and filled it up with birch junks, and took the keg and brought it
out. Now when the other man went back for his beef, here he had a bag full o' birch
junks. T 210-65 Couple o' year ago he was getting some o' this big birch junks in
therehe'd cut them up with a chain saw, in junks, so they'd be able to handle them,
heave them in the truck.
birch rind, ~ rine: bark or cortex
of a birch tree, esp used in the fisheries as a covering, insulation, etc. See also RIND
1809 Naval Chronicle xxi, 21-2 Every night, during its
process, it [the fish] is brought into round piles, covered over with birch-rinds, with
weight on it, to keep the wet and damp out.  1915 HOWLEY 230 The Red Indians never
wash except when a husband or wife dies, then the survivor has in some water heated by
stones in a birch rind kettle.  1973 KELLY 43 The room is at present only half
finished, and a smart shower, which fell during our occupation of it, found its way
through the roof of birch-rind on the heads of the congregation.  1927 DOYLE (ed)
67 "The Kelligrews Soiree": There was birch thine, Tar twine, Cherry wine and turpentine.
T 55/7-64 They'd make big birch rind masks and tossel them and trim themwhiskers
and everything on them. T 66-64 In the summer time when there'd be no fish, they'd go
finin' birch fine. Birch fine was a dollar a quintal. T 141/68-652 The birch
rine would be used for [insulating cellars] and for dinnage in the schooner. If you was
going to plank out a wharf, you lay birch rine over your stick [to] preserve it from the
water seeping into it.
birch sheathing: protective layer of
birch, esp yellow birch, on hull of a vessel.
141/60-652 He had her measured and runned her a summer fishing; [then] he had
his birch sheathing sawed here, and sheathed her. And he runned her sixteen springs to
birch timber: mountain holly (Nemopanthus
mucronata) (1956 ROULEAU 26).
birch wood: grove of
 1792 CARTWRIGHT ii, 326 From thence I
turned through the birch woods, which abound in excellent