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

...The forest around us

Fifty years of contract logging
(Part 1)

....In 1928 my father, Albert Moore, began contract logging in Quatsino Sound on the northern end of Vancouver Island. The company he contracted to log for was the B.C. Pulp and Paper Co. The contract was a handshake. The times were poor and the price of logs was low. There were no bonuses unemployment insurance, frills or paid holidays. The only security was a person’s ability to hold things together and make them work.
....Over the past 50 years, between my father and myself, our small company has supplied logs for pulp and lumber to the same people – although they have changed names a few times.
....Forty two years of our contract logging has been done in the Winter Harbour area of Quatsino Sound. A relatively low lying area – well timbered – and a rainfall of near 200 inches a year.
....In these days of the great corporate deals, amalgamations, take-overs, and integrated headaches, it feels kind of nice to look back over those 50 years and remind oneself that small companies – like blondes – can have more fun. This is not to say there have not been hills and valleys – plenty of those – and some of the valleys appeared at times to have no bottom. But I have always enjoyed logging and being with loggers. It is not that logging is better than other trades or that loggers are better than other people. It’s just that I’m prejudiced!
....I remember the nice sunny day in early August of 1936, when the tugboat “Granby” towed our small float camp from the Quatsino narrows, out to the open Pacific, and into the inlet of winter Harbour. The ocean looked so huge when we looked seaward – you could feel that one could be towed right to Japan that day.


....Winter Harbour was known as a remote area in those days. Four days by Maquinna from Port Alberni on the West Coast. And if you came from Vancouver via Port Hardy it took at least two full days of transfer and travel. Needless to say, loggers didn’t move around too much in those days.
My father had hired two brothers, the Johnsons – to fall timber in advance of our camp coming to Winter Harbour. These two men had lived in a float shack, working all day and coming home to cook their own food at night. They had to row a boat two miles to a small store for supplies. They were pretty hap-py fallers to see that float camp tie up to the beach with a cookhouse waiting for them.
....Moving, I should say towing, the float camp about the inlet was a day’s chore that was done while the crew were at work. We always kept the camp near the logging so the men would not have too far to go to work. It seems strange now, but one of the biggest jobs was putting out a pipeline for our camp water supply. We did not have plastic or rubber pipe in those days and so we used 20-foot lengths of one-inch steel pipe. Finding a small creek and enough rise to give us gravity was always a chore. Sometimes we would lay out 2000 feet of pipe to get the needed water. Packing pipe up the creeks and over tide flats filled up a good days work for a couple of fellows.
....On coming to Winter Harbour we had not yet been able to afford the new small light plants then on the market. This would come in two more years. All the bunkhouses (three of them), the cook-house and washroom, along with a small office and my father’s house were lit by Coleman gas lamps or oil lamps. It was the bullcook’s job to make the rounds each day filling the lamps and checking the mantles and

wicks. His rule of authority was the small hand pump he carried on the evening round when he lit the lamps.
....There have been a lot of ways thought up to get logs to the water or mill, but of all the systems devised, I am sure the most spectacular was the log chute. Three of the Germyn boys were working for my father about 1933 when our chute was built. As I remember, it was about 500 feet long, coming from a high flat area above the beach to the salt water. It was built on two large bottom logs and two side logs – lashed and cradled on the steep slope. A steam donkey reached out from the top end of the chute and skylined logs in from coldeck piles. By a simple maneuver, the logs were “kicked” into the chute opening and went on their merry way down the slide.
....It was spectacular to see the logs hit the water. I remember big cedars splitting when they hit and long skinny logs going underwatwer for hundreds of feet like a submarine. A steam whistle was always blown when the men were about to “kick” logs into the chute opening, to warn the boommen down below.
....A-frame logging on the big tide flats would not be tolerated today, because of the environmental impact. Then, we didn’t know how to spell the words, let alone know what they meant. It is interesting to note that in visiting the same tide flats we logged in the early ‘30s and ‘40s, one cannot see any harm done to the beaches. I guess nature can look after these things quite well if they are not done on too large a scale.
....I look out from my house now and I see the big hill, where in 1945 we moved the steam coldeck donkey up to yard logs. For those who never saw a big Willamette Steam Donkey on a sled being moved about in the felled
page 44  
British Columbia Lumberman, August, 1978

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and bucked timber, it is difficult to describe. Pulling itself by its mainline, through a well “chunked out” path, the big machine was like a fiery dragon of hisses, and puffs and bellows of white steam. The Big Hill rose from the beach to a height of 1,200 feet in a distance of just less than 3,000 feet. Some of the finest trees we have ever logged came from the top of the Big Hill.
....Two men, Ernie Johnson, the hook-tender, and Hal Gerrish, the donkey engineer – along with a crew spent six days moving that steam pot up the hill. There were times when it was nearly on end. Wood had to be bucked and
split ahead for the firebox, and a water line had to be always ready – as the square wooden water tank would spill most of its water. What I describe are the kinds of jobs we do not see anymore in the woods – thank goodness! The nerve and skill needed by men like Ernie and Hall is indeed hard to find today.
....The cookhouse was an interesting and memorable place in the float camp days. A good many cooks kept a little brew behind the stove. This was made from left-over juices and fruit, and properly seasoned – it packed a real whallop. Liquor was not easy to get in the remote places, so anything was
welcome to the thirsty ones.
....Today there is tv and recreation halls and any number of nice things – and deserved – in camps for the men. My earliest recollections of loggers at recreation was watching men play cribbage or sew their clothes or knit socks. And there were no jokes about it either!
....I’d like to talk about some of the hills and valleys next month. A couple of tidal waves – mountain slides – and a few jolly things like that.

.........................Keep out of the bight,
..........................................Bill Moore