The Forest Around Us



Bill Moore

Toronto – and the loggers

....Yes, you westerners — there is a far off land of trees at the other end of the National Dream called Toronto. And that big city with all its cement and sophistication is to be invaded this summer by those charmers — ‘The Logging Champions.’
....To be sure, the good Torontonians are about to witness a real live Can-adian image in action. The axes will fly at the bulls eye, the power saws will buzz through the logs and the logs will spin in the birling pond.
....The Canadian National Exhibition, North America’s largest fair, are now busy building a new grandstand site for the show that Jube Wickheim will put on from mid-August till Labour Day. It will give eastern Canadians their first real opportunity to admire the skills of a logger, and I can hear their shouts of joy right now. For Jube is “Mr. Logger’s sports.” A former world champion of the birling pond, he is now Canada’s number one promoter of logging sports shows. He holds the respect of the competitors, he knows what the crowds want, and he’s a great ambassador for this forest industry.
....At this writing it is not known whether a portion of the Canadian Championship will be held in Toronto. However, there will be an exhibition with top loggers from several different countries showing off their skill with their tools of the trade.
....The Ontario Government in the person of Honorable Leo Bernier, Minister of Natural Resources, is most enthusiastic about the advent of Logger’s Sports to the Ontario scene, and says he will be out to take a turn at the axe-throw. The Federal Govern-ment in the person of Honourable Jack

Davis has also given great support to our efforts to bring eastern Canada into national competition, and I’m sure with-out his help the emergence of a national picture in the sport would not exist. So, gentlemen, we thank you both — I think you’re going to like what you see.
....My interest in logger’s sports has always been keen because I see in the competitors and the arena something more than just another sporting game. For here is one of the few ways there are that allows so many thousands of citizens a brief look at Canada’s number one industry. The mothers, sisters, cousins and friends of those who work in our industry, particularly in the logging end, can sit in the comfort of a grandstand and can readily see the skill needed by a logger to saw down a tree, to chop with an axe, to use judgement and timing in their trade and to be healthy and in good condition.
....With no slight on our baseball, hockey or football heroes—I say I would rather see a young lad take on as his idol, one of our champion loggers. No hundred thousand dollar pitching arm here or a million dollar quarterback — but a man of the forest out to prove his skills against a fellow man. One on one, the way real competition should be. No glamour boy with a breakfast cereal contract in his hip pocket, but an honest to goodness example of a woodsman. I am convinced the image of a million dollar athlete does more harm to the minds of young people than it does good. And I state this with no malice towards professional athletes. The promoters of sport are interested in bucks today and sports are being
ruined by the exaggerated salaries being handed out.
....The forest industry in Canada has in its grasp—through Logger’s Sports — the finest vehicle for public relations, image and recruitment, it could ever possess. All the public relations men put together could never dream up a better picture of showing off our industry and its people than through the competitions and exhi-bitions of logger’s sports. It has been a disappointment at times to see the lack of interest on the part of top management in our forest industry toward the sport of their livelihood. The support of the people of the industry is there, but there must be more input from the finances and backing of top management if the events are to achieve the potential results.
....The introduction of logger’s sports to a metropolitan area like Toronto will go a long way to encouraging our eastern forestry people to start their own local shows. I recall touring through the forested areas of Ontario and Quebec in the past two years, and I cannot forget the wonderful crowds of people who were thrilled at the sight of the logging champions accom-panying me, as they demonstrated their skills. The public relate very easily to the sport, for all Canadians are very aware of their forests and its loggers. Only too often the image people conjure up of a logger is some old remembrance out of the past of the “drunken logger’s spree on the town.” Well, I have known some doctors, lawyers and banking chiefs who could drink many loggers under the table — so the old fables can’t hold water today.
British Columbia Lumberman, June, 1974

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....The logger needs a feeling of pride in his work, and like so many other automated industries today it is some-times difficult to find a pride in this world of great iron monsters we use to bring the logs out of the woods. It is still his ability to show off that skill that people relate to most.
....Here in B.C., I have watched over the past ten years the sons and daughters of our fine competitors take up the art of logging sports themselves. The young are ever increasing at our shows and their keenness is only matched by their attitude for physical fitness and sportsmanship. Surely, this is what we really want to see in young people today. Far better than the hero worship of some here-today gone-tomorrow hotshot of gridiron or diamond (no offence Expos).
....And tell me forestry brothers — what other industry can boast of a recreational pastime of its own, such as logger’s sports? At least I haven’t heard of miner’s sports or construction sports or for that matter shipping sports! So you see we have a bit of a unique industry. We live by it and we can enjoy the recreation of it and we can cheer our own home — made heroes.
....The program of logger’s sports can fit a very small town — a logging camp — or a Madison Square Garden. It’s an adaptable sport too. The east does not have the tall trees of our west coast so naturally tree climbing will not be a big event in the east — except exhibition, but then the east should rally to log birling for it was from their forests that the great river drives came. And the skill of those old timers on an upper Ottawa River can live again in a birling pond at the Toronto exhibition this summer. The skill and timing of logger’s sports can be used in safety too as the new Ontario Logger’s Sports Association is doing in their drive to bring the sport to the attention of Ontario’s logging industry. We have noted the low accident frequency rates of loggers in competition. This can be partly accounted for in that they keep their tools in excellent shape — always sharp and well guarded when not in use. The rules of the sport have been set up to disallow recklessness or unnecessary risks. You will simply not find a champion logger at competition without the safety of stag-gered pants, or close fitting shirts or short or tied back hair. These are basic safety factors of a logger’s daily life and the example as set through logger’s sports only goes to help his fellow forestry workers who are watching the sport.

....Yes, I place a high level on logger’s sports, for many reasons — its safety through awareness, its appeal and good guidance to young people, its pleasure to the crowds, and its portrayal of an image to the public.
....So, you P.R. men of our industry — the next time the executive floor asks you to come up with a new idea to “show off our industry ‘cause we’re so terribly misunderstood” tell the chairman about logger’s sports. Tell him it’s “sure-fire,” “can’t miss” or “box office appeal.” Maybe, just may-
be, he might discover the delights of this entertainment and skill and give up his seat at the football stadium for a bleacher on Logger’s Sports. Come on boys—run up the flag for logger’s sports—
....See you at Woss Lake—or Grande Prairie, or Chicoutami—or Toronto this summer.
....Oh,— look at those loggers go—!

Keep out of the bight,

British Columbia Lumberman, June, 1974