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

...The forest around us

Fifty years of contract logging (Part II)

....Contractors and the Big Company. Things are a bit different now. But there was a time, my friends, when 25 cents a thousand board feet for logs meant the difference between a new mortgage or break even for the con-tract logger. Most of the loggers on our B.C. coast kept working because the Big Company held a mortgage on their equipment and camps. Mind you times were tough in the ‘30s.
....I remember we were closed down for the year of 1938 because the Japanese had withdrawn their pur-chases of pulp from the Port Alice mill. The staff of the B.C. Pulp and Paper Co. in Vancouver and elsewhere were put on half pay for the year! Oh, you gotta be tough in the north!
....The pace of life was so different in those far off days. In the small logging camps up and down the coast, the gas-boat was the means of getting around. Slow powered by Easthopes, Vivians or Palmer gasoline engines,


this was the carrier that towed the logs, packed the supplies and took the injured to a hospital (not always near by). We lived by our gasboats.
....In 1936 when our little float camp came into Winter Harbour to start logging, it was difficult to communicate quickly to the big supply city of Vancouver for parts or men. Not that we needed very much, or many, of either. Boiler tubes for a steam donkey and once in an odd while a new logger. Men did not move about too much in the ‘30s as jobs were hard to get and the darn camps were so remote.
....There were no telephones in Winter Harbour, so if we had to send a telegram for something or someone, we would take our gasboat and head out for the open Pacific where there was a light-house on tiny Kaines Island.
....We would take our little gasboat out into the seas, to in front of the lighthouse. Once in front we would blow a hand foghorn to alert the light-

house keeper. He would then walk to the back of the 20 acre island and from our boat we would throw him our telegram, weighted down, to where he stood on the rocks. No docks – just rough, rugged waters! He would then send our message by key to Vancouver You could say we really appreciated the ‘phones when they came.
....My father did not get to see the more prosperous and modern meth-ods of logging for he passed away in 1943. After the war things changed so fast. Power saws replaced the old hand saws, steam was out and diesel was in. I suppose the decade from 1947 to 1957 saw more changes in our logging methods than any other decade.
....We, like so many on the coast in the ‘20s, ‘30s and early ‘40s, were beach loggers. That is, we used A-frames on large log-lashed floats or tight-line systems or log chutes as I
THE MOORE’S camp at Winter Harbour in the early 1950s. The ‘50s were a time of rapid change. Power saws replaced the old hand saws, steam was out and diesel was in. The decade from 1947 to 1957 saw more changes than any other 10-year period before or since.
British Columbia Lumberman, September, 1978  
page 75

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described last month, or very primitive tractors.
....My father bought one of those very primitive beasts from Earl Finning in Vancouver about 1929 or ’30. It was used to swing logs from a coldeck pile to the water – a distance of maybe half a mile. It rained quite heavy that summer – and Quatsino Sound is noted for its heavy over-burden of soil. I recall the deep rutted valleys this monster used to pull logs through. The machine was not right for the times or the place and we added another mortgage.
....One thing that is not seen generally in our camps today is the blacksmith shop. Then, in the ‘30s, it was as important as the cookhouse. A good
TWO PIONEERS of the coastal logging industry. Left is Jack Kelly whose company was later bought out by the Powell River Company and eventually became part of the MacMillan Bloedel empire. Right is Albert Moore, father of columnist Bill Moore, who still operates the company his father founded, contract logging at Winter Harbour. Photo taken approximately 1916.
blacksmith could make any piece of iron into a tool of utility. All heavy shackles, tongs, marlin spikes, chokers and such were made in the camp blacksmith shop. I spent many an hour striking (hitting) iron with a sledgehammer – not to be confused with today’s definition! As most blacksmiths were cranky by nature, God help you if you did not strike while the iron was hot. – and correctly.
....The independent, or medium, or small, or contract logger has always had his share of adversities if he stays in the game long enough. Forest fires have wiped out many an outfit and slides and road washouts are not uncommon to any logger in rain rich B.C. Fires on the northern end of foggy Vancouver Island are not a serious threat in most years – but we found our special disasters in tidal wave damage.
....In the spring of 1960 an earth-quake in South America triggered a tidal wave that devastated our inlet waters of Winter Harbour. We awoke to the sounds of thunder from the salt water on a misty Sunday morning. It was the roar of water rushing in through a small gap of land at the entrance of our inlet. In a matter of 20 minutes the tidal waters rose 16 feet – and then as quickly flushed out again – to keep repeating the process all day and slowing down in the next four or five days.
....It caused our log booms of about five million board feet to be dashed to pieces in the turbulent waters. We could not get out into the inlet in boats to salvage our logs as the waters were too rough and dangerous. Our pile-driven booming grounds were smashed as were our docks and floating pile driver. Unfortunately our logs were not scaled by the forest
service as it was still a hangup of the Big Company (and the forest service) that log booms be the problem of the logger until they were delivered to the mill 50 miles away, then scaled. It’s a sign of better times that these old habits are no longer in existence.
....Well one tidal wave in an outfit’s life is enough – but in the spring of ’64, just four years later, we received the same treatment again from an Alaskan earth-quake. Once again log booms smashed up, docks destroyed and a booming ground torn loose. One could damn near get mad at dear old Mother Nature!
....The relationship of the contract logger and the company he supplied with logs to was generally determined on two people’s personalities – the logger and the company representative. How to log, or where to log were never the real issues. The real issue was always – how much money per thousand! Therein lies many an interesting story of logging in B.C.
....I can remember in my earlier days in the Truck Logger’s Association my attitude that unless a trust is developed between the two parties, all the contracts in the world won’t work. I am more convinced than ever that this still holds true today and will tomorrow. For logging is not an assembly line of work. It is not tons of coal or tons of fish or units per hour. It is a combination of intelligent people, well maintained machinery, innovation, con-sistency of management, and a spoonful of good luck.
....The business of logging has indeed changed. The lonely inlet camps that took four or five days to get to are now served in a few hours by aircraft from Vancouver or Nanaimo.
....Where there were no wives in the camps, today you find communities of families with tv, deep freezes and auto-
matic dishwashers. Life in Woss Lake, Harwicke Island, Sandspit, Blow hole Bay, Mahatta River, Juskatla or dear old Downtown Winter Harbour can be as good or as poorly as one makes it.
....I have always found the people in this industry much more interesting than the giant machines we use to intimidate the forest. I know the Great Yellow Traktor Co. and others will excuse the bias. Loggers are by the nature of their surroundings a very inventive and imaginative people. Just look at some of the strange ways they get logs out of the bush, and listen to some of the stories of past logging glory they tell.
....Can there really be any nicer morning than a balsam scented sunny a.m. in late spring (forget the flies, fellows)? If we could pipe that type of air into downtown Los Angeles we’d have it made.
....I note what seems to be an increase in the number of contract loggers from 10 years ago. I think the Big Chaps like us and it might be said we are needed. That’s nice – and that’s the way it should be. There’s a lot of old family names that should be long remembered on this coast for the hard work and tough times that were spent in those early days getting things started. Kelly, Morgan, Allyson, Bendickson, Dumares, Anderson. These names along with many others go way back into the opening up of coastal logging. They were tough men and they served a tough boss – the rain, the snow, the heat, and all nature’s elements. We are the beneficiaries of so many trails they blazed.

.........................Keep out of the bight,
..........................................Bill Moore
page 76  
British Columbia Lumberman, September, 1978