........Comment by Bill Moore

...The forest around us

And fingerlinks

....There are machines and people in the forest around us, and with apologies to the Big Yellow Traktor Company et al – I find the people more interesting. Not that I’ve got anything against those big chunks of iron, it’s just that iron has no heart and iron doesn’t get angry, like say a salt water boomman.

....Boomman – now there’s a logger for you. I’m speaking about the old wooden pike pole carrying, tin panted variety – not your modern gentleman boomman with high powered steel boomboats and floater jacket. Now there was a man of the elements!

....Perhaps a crankier, more ornery boom-cat never lived than Moses Dean. Bone dry pants, bone dry coat and bone dry hat – and he not only worked in such clothing, he wore it to town, too.

....It was my pleasure as a young fuzzy-cheeked lad to “work the boom” with Moses. We had an A-frame outfit then – steam coldecker in the woods and an old steam roader on the A-frame. Logs were brought down an 1,800 foot skyline to the water in tree lengths. I was drag saw man and sluicer. That meant I had to buck up


the trees in the water into log lengths with a gas engined Wee McGregor Pond Saw, and then push them with a pike pole to the sorting gap where Moses took over the stowing of the logs into flat booms.
....We never talked all day – Moses staying on his end of the boom cussing out every log – and I stayed at my end – busy – and afraid to go near him. We worked for nearly a year together and I don’t think we even said a dozen sentences to each other. If any word was spoken it would be Moses cussing the world for allowing a young punk to be his boom partner.
....But with all the cussing at logs and young fellows, Moses made up a beautiful boom of logs. No haywire methods, no short cuts and no nonsense. Those booms of logs were put together to get to the mill intact, and they did. He was a logger of silent pride like so many of his day.
....Booming up the logs in coastal camps in the 1930’s and ‘40s was a tough job. The elements of fall and winter, day in and day out could be brutal. Very few of the old timers came through it without arthritis or muscle troubles – partly because rain clothing was not of the light, flexible and rainproof quality of today. Men accepted the cold and the wet not

really caring about the years ahead when they may be crippled.

....In the big booming grounds of the large companies up to six men would do the stowing of a boom of logs that now takes one man in a steel boomboat to do. Believe me there is nothing as chilling to the hands as grabbing a wet, cold, wooden pike pole on a frosty morning and pushing logs about. Also as the loads of logs were dumped into the water, they would often pile up in jackpots. This meant the boommen had to grab a five foot peavie and, by standing on the pile of logs, roll key logs out to separate them. It was dangerous and it called for nimble-footed men.
....No life jackets then, of course. And that is why about six boommen a year used to drown in our waters. When jackets became compulsory in the more enlightened years, the drownings just about ceased to exist. Strange isn’t it how men have to be forced into doing things for the good of their own lives?

....Ah, the Wee McGregor Drag Saw! Now there was a fine little instrument of torture. The little single cylinder engine sat on a wooden frame on a small log float. With a small chain drive

British Columbia Lumberman, Octomber, 1976  

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it ran a fulcrum arm that pushed and pulled a heavy six foot saw blade. The blade was held up by a small block and tackle with the drag saw man standing alongside the blade, holding on to the end of the rope of the pulleys. A big ratchet-type dogging device held the logs in place while they were being bucked. The drag saw man used his foot to guide the saw into the cut. Let’s just say that a safety inspector today would go gray with one look at such a setup!

....There were good times on the boom. On a nice sunny day, with a little breeze to keep the flies away a fellow could take off his shirt and laugh at the thought of the loggers in the bush who had to keep theirs on. Sitting with the steam donkey
....Crew on the A-frame, listening to an old timer fireman or donkey puncher spin yarns of old steam rigs they had worked on. Steam men were a breed of their own, and they knew it. Their stories were full of how much steam a boiler could hold, or how many logs a certain side had logged at legendary camps such as C.R.T. or


Lambs, or I.T. .A young fellow could pick up a little learning and a lot of B.S. at such lunch hours.
....Boommen and the other loggers in the camp did not generally get along too well. They worked in two separate worlds – the boomman on his water, and the others on Mother earth. It was often to the delight of the earth-men if they could overload the boomcrew with logs and in so doing stop the logging for awhile till the boomcrew could get the logs out of the way. Little wonder the old time boommen were cranky and cussed the rest of the world, for they were vulnerable to the elements of wind and rain and their fellow loggers!
....Time on the boom always went by very quickly – I suppose because it was always a busy place. Chewing tobacco and snooze were used by many men because they simply did not have the time to dry their hands to roll a cigarette.
....Somewhere about the booming grounds there would be stashed a hand boring four inch auger. If the engine-driven boomstick boring machine broke down, out would come the hand

auger to bore the holes at either end of the sixty foot logs to be used for boomsticks that held the booms together. No harder hand and muscle work could be done in the woods than to “bore up a bunch of sticks” – by hand. And many a boomstick on this coast was drilled that way. God bless progress!
....Funny things happened on the boom. I recall one summer un in a salt lagoon, Fred Tom (a boom-cat if ever there was one) and I used to watch an old mud shark lazily swimming about the lagoon. He was a big devil, near 20 feet long, actually quite harmless, but real big. I was walking, with my balancing pike pole in hand one day, on a lonely string of boomsticks when I noticed the creature slowly swimming toward me. As he reached my feet he turned and swam alongside the boomstick I was walking on. I could have reached out and stroked him, he was that close – but needless to say, I was so scared of this giant, I had nothing else in mind except to part company with him. Which I finally did.
....So now the old style booming and the old style boommen have given way first to the boom dozer boat and now to the dry land sort. Progress has changed the job into one of more efficiency and bit more comfort, although nobody’s done anything about the wind and the rain or the cold.
....It’s pleasant to look back on the memories of those very tough old time boommen. They talked to logs, you know. “Over here you bastard – not over there!” It was a quiet life, working on the water, before the advent of the noisy little dozers, and voices travel so easily over quiet waters. Maybe if you listen some day in one of the old deserted booming grounds on our coast, you’ll hear an old timer talking to his logs, telling them where to go.
....Fingerlinks! Oh that was a shackle device that was used around the booming grounds to tie up logs or booms. If it were under tension, a single hit with a hammer could open it up for release. The old time boomman always had a fingerlink on hand somewhere.
....Great men and good loggers, those boommen. I hope they have found some quiet waters, some sun and a cool gentle breeze - and some obedient logs.

But remember,
Keep out of the bight,


British Columbia Lumberman, October, 1976