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

...The forest around us

The class of ‘77

....I live in, what I consider, a very nice part of the world – the northern end of Vancouver Island. It is relatively low lying country, with hills reaching up to 2,000 feet. The central part of this 300 mile long island has mountains of 7,000 feet – so we north islanders consider our area relatively flat.
....It is and area of “the forest around us” and as such has thrived and prospered on the abundance of trees its land has reared. The area has been logged for over 60 years and under its now sustained yearly cut should provide for the generations that will follow.

....The North Island has some small towns, some villages, some logging communities and scattered home-steads. It has an inland saltwater way that reaches into its very heart, providing sheltered waters that once saw many floating logging camps.

....It has been an interesting area to live in, and to watch its growth. Where it once was primitive with no roads, now it is modern with new theatres. Where it once took four days by steamer to get here from Vancouver, it now takes 70 minutes by jet. Where it was once an area of hand loggers and A-frames and steam donkey engines, it is now covered in good logging roads with giant loaders and mobile logging equipment. And where it once was an area that saw its logging payrolls be spent in the cities to the south – now the many merchants of the area supply the needs of its approxi mately 10,000 people.
....But maybe what has changed the most – and certainly for the better – is

its educational standards. There are still a few one classroom schools in some of its smaller communities – but spread throughout its more populated places are fine schools that very adequately handle the children and young people’s schooling to the end of high school. Not as before when so many had to send their children south for their education. Not as before when some children had to take correspondence courses by mail. And not vas before when a logger had to keep two homes – one for his family in the big city to the south – and another for his room and board in a bunkhouse. It meant a separated life for many a logging family for most of the year. Not an ideal way of life.
....While fishing, and to a more recent extent mining, have also played a part in the growth of the North Island 1 it has been the logger and his craft that have brought a better way of life to this very nice part of the world. And now in this more modern time, the logger’s family and his children can be with him to enjoy life together. They have the advantage of modern shopping districts, hospitals and good education facilities.
....It’s this last item – education – that I find most interesting to watch. For now the youth doesn’t have to move away for jobs. While there is not enough work for all young people, still many of them can find work in the woods or small towns and they are the future of this area.
....It was my pleasure to be asked to speak to the graduating class at our North Island Senior Secondary School on their graduation night. A night quite exciting for so many young people – a
night when a new phase of life is entered into.
....One thing that struck me as I spoke on this occasion was the fact that two thirds of the 100 graduates were young ladies. Why the absence of so many young men? I suppose it is a sign of the times of this area, that so many of the young fellows would drop out of school and go to work in the nearby logging camps or construction work-ings. Young fellows living away from the big city in expanding places like the North Island learn at an early age the arts of mechanics, carpentry, boating and assorted odd jobs. If they have, as a father, a logger, they of course become familiar with the woods and all too often will leave school before graduating to work as their fathers do.
....The proximity that young fellows have in such an area as this to all forms of machinery from automobiles to big log loaders, puts them at such an advantage over their city cousins in learning how to handle equipment. And the lure of logging dollars is quite a temptation for many a 16 or 17 year old young man. It does seem a shame that their education is dropped, but in such areas as this, it has always been a way of life.
....I hear stories from time to time about how the loggers of today don’t measure up to the loggers of yesterday. The fact that they can’t put a long-splice into a mainline or they don’t like working on the chokers, amongst other complaints, are com-mon of old-timers about the young. However, some old-timers forget that the machines are faster today and a chokerman’s lot has never been exactly a goal in life for any young man
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British Columbia Lumberman, July, 1977

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– now, or in the past.

....Only lately has the opportunity to be taught about logging by logging teachers come about. Under the co-operation of Canada Manpower for the government and the logging companies, it is now possible for young – or older – people to really learn about the woods’ various jobs. The old fashioned way of a new chap being thrown to a tough rigging slinger and be yelled at, on the job, was once the only way one could break into the woods. I believe more good potential loggers were turned off a logging career than hung in there and stumbled their way through the early months of learning.
....Education is a wonderful thing, but sometimes education for one man is another man’s waste of time. There are many with doctorates walking the streets looking for any kind of work today.
....I certainly do not advocate dropping out of high schools, but I think in the many rural areas such as North Island, our education system should recognize and teach about the area and industry of that area to those wanting to know. Too often young teachers, sent out from the city to rural areas, are horrified of such things as slash and logging methods. They feel it’s the rape of nature and quite often impart this feeling to their students.
....While there can be many things wrong about the methods used in log-ging, it is still a vital industry to B.C. and Canada – and is going to need a steady stream of young, interested and well motivated people for its craft for generations to come. Where better to find such young people than right in the areas they grew up in – and that quite probably their fathers also contributed to.
....Looking back over the past 20 years, I begin to see a basic change in the new loggers of today over their counterparts of the late ‘50s. The industry fell into a rut then - I suppose in part as an aftermath of World War II when the modern machines first started coming into the woods and “highball” was the name of the game. A certain pride of work was lost at that time that is now being recovered and that has happened for several reasons.
....First there is a bit of education now about becoming a logger and I’m sure the craft of a logger will be steadily and even better taught. Second, the logging managements have realized the need for better bunkhousing, better family dwellings and a more modern

approach to the needs of people in a logging community. I would add to these reasons such things as the skills of loggers’ sports that have allowed the individual logger to be recognized for his talent by the public.
....All the above have gradually brought about a different attitude on the part of many loggers and have made them feel a bit more kindly to their industry. The beneficiary of this pride is everyone concerned with the industry – hardly a losing game.

....So the “class of ‘77” here on North


Island and elsewhere about the nation moves into a new phase. It is my hope that many young men in these classes, particularly in the forested areas, will take a good look at the forest around them in their community.
....This industry needs the “class of ’77.” Let’s make this industry a good place for them to live and work.

.........................Keep out of the bight,


British Columbia Lumberman, July, 1977  
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