............THE FOREST






A Christmas Letter

To my grandchild,
Christmas, 2000 A.D.

Dear Johnathan,
....As I write this letter near Christmas 1980, you are one year old. I thought it might be fun, and maybe interesting, if I addressed this to you on your twenty first birthday, in the good old year 2000 A.D.
....Now, I’m not going to get nosy about how your school or work is coming along. At your age you’ve got that pretty well in hand. I just had the urge to tell you about some things going on in the forest around us, here in British Columbia and Canada, at this date of Christmas 1980. I’d like to know your thoughts as you see things on your twenty first birthday.
....First off, Johnathan, I hope you’re looking at One Canada as we here have always known it. But, if not, I hope that all Canadians have thought things out in a cool and reasonable manner in doing what they have done. Right now, in the late fall of 1980, the politicians across this land sound like a pack of starving timber wolves, howling for their share of the territory. In fact, a few of them sound like jackasses, as they bray about the “Great Constitutional Issue.” But one thing, Johnny – the trees keep on growing in the forest.
....Now, these forests across Canada mean so much to all of us in this land. Do you find people really recognizing the need to care for our forests, to tend them as tree gardens, and to utilize them in a multitude of ways? As you know, your family has been in the business of trees for more than a hundred years as you read this. I guess that entitles you and I to exchange some thoughts on our “family tree” – [oh, sorry about that, J.]


....I find that most city dwellers in our overpopulated southwest corner of B.C. are really very unknowledgeable about the extent and wealth of our forest lands. They know all sorts of facts about hockey and football and what’s wrong with the world, but they do not seem to bother too much about this great renewable resource asset of our forests. Of course when you travel to the up-coast or interior places like Prince George or Port McNeil, you find the people there very involved with the topic of forestry. It’s their bread and butter, and they are on the scene.
....With this in mind, Johnathan, some of us who do care are about to launch on a new project that we hope will give the public a better understanding of their forests. We are going to raise funds from governments, industries and the public to build a British Columbia forest Centre. You will, of course, know the Centre well, in the heart of downtown Vancouver, for by the year 2000 it will have long been built into a truly great place of “forest learning.”
....And forest learning is vital to the people of a province and country so rich in trees. Unless young people like yourself are brought up to understand their forests we shall always have difficulty in acquiring dedicated people to manage our forests, log our forests and provide skilled leadership for the thousands of people employed by our forest industries.
....Johhny – it has always been difficult, and sometimes near impossible to explain to strangers or visitors, or young people, the workings of things like forest company policies or the workings of government Forest Services or Trade Union negotiations. Public awareness of things like world competition in forest products is not


brought home until markets are cut off and people are out of jobs. There are so many sides to the story of forestry, depending on where one sits, and they all need telling.
....Up to this point in time we have haphazardly taught lessons in our schools about “seedlings” and “trees” and “products” from trees. Certainly for a resource that provides half the economy of B.C. at this writing, we have given little reason for people young or old, or visitor, to find an interest in our forests.
....The Forest Centre, we trust, will help to fill this need, for the story of forests will be told in an interesting and fun way, and our Centre will be very accessible to so many people. I can nearly hear you telling me about it as you speak to me down through time. And all the while, Johnathan, the trees keep growing in the forest.
....Surely when you read this, the day of the heavy accident and death toll in our forest industry will have been lowered drastically from our now 40 or 50 on-the-job fatals in the logging sector alone. This is a situation that can no longer be tolerated. As I see it now the forces are gathering to put a stop to these needless deaths. No, it will not happen overnight, but new regulations, more safety inspection, more serious searching will lead to more competent managers and wor-kers in our industry. In my time, logging has been a very hazardous business, Johnny. Let us hope, as you read this, that it is far less hazardous.
....Now tell me, how are things going with forest waste from logging areas? My friends who visit me from places like Scandinavia are always appalled when they view the waste we still leave behind on the ground after log-

British Columbia Lumberman  ·  December, 1980  ·  36

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ging. And yet we have improved over the years that I have been in the logging scene. But those old bugaboos – “uneconomical” and “allowable waste” seem to always rear their heads when we talk of new ways to better utilize our forests.
....When your great grandfather logged in the Queen Charlottes around 1918 it was only economical to take out the big Sitka Spruce second and third cuts. The butts were too awkward and the top cuts had limbs – they were uneconomical and were considered “allowable waste.”
....When I was young it was uneco-nomical to even fall the huge rotting snags in the old growth forest, so we logged around the deadly monster. Then later, it was uneconomical to log heavy-butted Hemlock logs, so buckers cut off most Hemlock butts (called long-butting) and that waste was thereby justified.
....We didn’t log small trees in coastal B.C. until we were forced to, and I can recall not that many years ago leaving the big cedar butts in the woods because the mills DIDN’T WANT THEM! Uneconomical!
....All this history was in the name of allowable waste because it was uneconomical to find better solutions in those years. Really, Johnathan, we have been so rich and affluent in trees that we have been able to use such phrases as “allowable waste” and “uneconomical” at the least provocation.
....In my travels in northern Europe I have talked to many loggers from many countries and have seen the look of envy in their eyes when they speak of our bountiful supply of trees.
....Now, young chap, is your gen-eration using some or all of this waste from the forest floor for energy or some other useful purpose? Tell me, how is the “allowable waste syndrome” in the good old year of 2000?
....You know Johnny, when I look back 20 years to 1960 and compare those times to now, 1980, I wonder about 2000. Not that much has changed in some of the areas I have written you about. Certainly the terrible death rate has not changed appreciably amongst our loggers. The subject of allowable waste is still dragging its heels. We should be spending more money on research NOW into the waste on our forest floor, not when the Brazilian forest products start hitting our shores.
....Well, Johnathan, it seems as if by this Christmas of 1980 we haven’t solved all our forestry problems, and I suppose by your Christmas of 2000 they will still not all be solved. But we must never let up in our attempts to

solve them. And  remember Johnny – all the time the trees keep growing in the forest.

Take care, Johnathan, and Merry Christmas – and do remember -

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



British Columbia Lumberman December, 1980
page 37