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

...The forest around us

Fifty years of contract logging (Part III)

....My father, Albert Moore, had been a tie cutter around what is now Thun-der Bay in Ontario. I recall his crafts-manship with a broadaxe as he would hew out a log for use around the float camp. His old broadaxe hangs now above the bar next to the Timber Club room of the Vancouver Hilton Hotel.
....He came out to B.C. from Ontario in 1912 with the Whalen Bros. As a timber cruiser and logging manager. These entrepreneurs soon made their mark felt on the B.C. coast. They built the pulp mill of Woodfibre on Howe Sound in 1913 and then built the Port Alice pulp mill in Quatsino Sound in 1917. Along the way they acquired the pulp and lumber mill of Swanson Bay, 100 miles south of Prince Rupert.
....Passengers aboard the B.C. Ferries Queen of Prince Rupert pass by this grown-over site on their cruise up the B.C. coast. All that remains today of this thriving town of a thousand people (1920) is a bit of cement and part of a smokestack (see B.C. Lumberman July ’74 – The Town That Vanished). The wet coastal B.C. climate soon swallows up with brush any area of inactivity.


....Swanson Bay died in 1925 and Woodfibre and Port Alice were lost to the Whalens about the same time. The mills became the B.C. Pulp and Paper Co., that later became Alaska Pine – then a joint venture with Abitibi – and now the company is known as Rayonier (Canada) Ltd. Well, as Bill Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name?” But the beat goes on!
....If you look at a fair sized map of the northern end of Vancouver Island, you will note how Quatsino Sound provides unique tidal waterways to this good growth area of hemlock, cedar, balsam, and spruce. The years ahead will see more and more use of these waterways for pleasure and business.
But in the 1920s when Port Alice had just got started into pulp production it was a difficult area to get people and supplies into. Coastal steamers from Victoria took four days through open Pacific waters to reach the mill or logging camps nearby. Other coastal ships plied out of Vancouver for Port Hardy for transfer to Coal Harbour, 12 miles away on Quatsino Inlet shores – by pack trail!
....Many, many loggers walked that trail

with their bedroll and packsack and caulk boots. Horses were used for some freight and an occasional lady traveler. I have a picture of my mother on horseback with my father standing alongside at the end of the trail at Coal Harbour. A bit rugged for today’s PWA jet set loggers – eh Mr. Potts!
....There were many small and medium sized float camps in Quasino sound supplying the wood for Port Alice’s needs. As a young lad in the early 1930s, I used to walk up one of the abandoned plank flumes that had been used to transport cords of wood to the salt chuck from back in the hills. Tight-line systems, A-frame systems, log chutes, and steep hand-logger shows were what fed the mill. Cedar was by-passed when at all possible because it was a drag on the pulp market. How times change!
....The bunkhouses on the float camps were generally considered not too classically architectured. Shiplap on the out-side and sometimes an inner wall up four feet from the floor. Well air-conditioned my friends! Ten men to an open room with a 90 gallon drum wood heater in the middle.
British Columbia Lumberman, October, 1978  
page 43

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$8 or $9 a trip. The busy planes were everywhere. Inflation, the Arabs and too many roads have now changed that price to near $100 a trip. Ah, progress. Now it’s buses for the young hockey team to go play their sche-duled hockey games in the next town. Or, the ladies in their station wagons driving off to a new store in search of better lettuce. Or, off to a dinner and movie for the evening for Dads and Moms. Whoopee!
....And it’s all good. The living is as it should be. With very little help from governments, the northern end of Vancouver Island has become family livable for the people who hung on. And, oh yes, there still is logging – lots of it – but by big log trucks and big au-tomatic iron monsters. Long gone are the silent log chutes and cord-
WINTER HARBOUR float camp in the early 1940s.
  wood flumes. Or the puffing steampots
....We didn’t have much money for fancy things like two by fours, and as my father was a good and ingenious carpenter, I remember him cutting studding and rafters out of hemlock or cedar poles from the bush. Some of those buildings are still in use as store-houses.
....As a boy growing up an only child in a float camp, I was always fasci-nated by the loggers’ stories. There was so little else to do on the float camps, nowhere to walk except the beach, no recreation halls, but instead a cribbage board and a pack of cards. The loggers of those days seemed to ask for so little for themselves. Mind you, there wasn’t much for anyone.
....I remember well the first union representative coming to the camp by gas boat (about 1933) to organize thecrew. My father cut their boat ropes loose and sent them on their
but certainly not uncommon on our early B.C. coast logging scene.
....The advent of float planes and the swift progress of logging roads soon changed the isolation. Schools, families and the accompanying stores and small businesses gradually moved into the northern end of Vancouver Island. It seemed long in coming and at times as if the rest of the world didn’t give a damn about the rest of us. A provincial highway from the southern part of Vancouver Island will only be finished next year. Dear politicians, and their promises, promises. We shall over-come!
....As we lived by our gasboats in the early days, so for a while until the network of logging roads joined all the communities, we lived by the Beaver float plane. In the 1950s the cost of traveling from camp to camp or to a Port Hardy or Port Alice was about

and one-cylinder drag-saws. Or the back breaking eight-foot hand falling saws. All things change. Looking at our little part of the world, there’s been a world of change. But one thing remains the same and that is the forest around us. We may cut portions of it down – but turn your head and you’ll see the new forests growing that you cut near 50 years ago. I’ve been here long enough that I’ve had the pleasure of logging some of this land twice. Oh yes, the second time round the trees were smaller - but very merchantable. For this is a very reusable area.
....Hey – it’s been fun! Let’s get ready for the next 50. Come on you loggers, you gotta be tough in the north –

and - Keep out of the bight,
Bill Moore

way. It was the way of the times. To men like my father, who were so close to their crews, it was inconceivable that a new authority could enter the scene.
....There were very few families living in the small to medium float camps. Schooling of course was the problem. Mails were slow so correspondence courses were rare. It meant that a logger had to pay his room and board at camp and keep his family away in the city where public schools were available. I remember one logger in particular – Charlie – who had nine children. He cleared about $110 a month (1934), stayed in camp for 11 months of the year, and sent his cheques down to Vancouver to feed
the family. Not much of a family life,   THE MOORE homestead at Winter Harbour, circa 1978. How the times have changed!
page 45  
British Columbia Lumberman, October, 1978