To my grandchild,
Christmas, 2000 A.D.
....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
....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
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
....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-