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






‘Looking Back To Look Ahead’

A t this writing in mid October, the
forestry situation in B.C. and in Canada is not what one would call healthy. Just about everything from 2 x 4s to card-board boxes is caught up in this world-wide recession. I wonder how it affects baseball and hockey cards?
....We have grown so used to a reasonably balanced economy here in Canada and the U.S. A., that to have so many people out of work and so many businesses in deep trouble, is a hard pill to swallow. Looking back (how easy it is) it seems we were sailing along on a never ending, very protected way of life. A raise every year, a nice home and a ‘better than a gold watch’ retirement to look forward to.
....Security was the word we all wor-shipped and if we didn’t have it in total, we certainly kept trying to catch the butterfly. Compared to teeming million in the rest of the world we lived with a pretty secure base – rich or poor – for a lot of years.
....But now the future is a bit cloudy and the reactions of people are somewhat amazing to watch. The stock market has had two dramatic upturns where bidders trampled each other to get in on the goodies. Lay-offs of groups of thousands are becoming commonplace and that is frightening.
....In our own forestry circles, loggers are picketing the shipping of logs to Asia while other loggers are asking the government for permission to export logs so there may be jobs. It depends which side of the street you’re walking on, I suppose.
....It is certain that there will be a lot of loggers and mill people out of work this long winter, and that is sad. It is sad too that people don’t save as they used to. The plastic card has brought with it a philosophy that is disastrous for those that have not seen the less secure days of the 1930s.
....I remember those days from a small float camp my father had on northern


Vancouver Island. As the only kid in camp I haunted the bunkhouses when the logging crew came in from work and would listen to their talk as I sat on the edge of a logger’s bunk. They talked of hard times. They were earning $2.50 to $4 a day in the early 1930s and they worked six days a week with no over-time pay.
....They fascinated me with their des-criptions of the Prairie harvest and how they would go there by “riding the rods.” They had great stories about hobo jungles and railroad cops and how they’d have to keep out of reach of the billy-sticks wielded by a tough cop.
....They talked of the labor marches and soup kitchens and of knocking on the back door of farmhouses for a handout. These were not the flower children hip-pies of the early 1960s – the runaways and the free livers who flocked to San Francisco and so many cities. These were humbled Canadians who were trying to cope with a deeply troubled world’s inability to live in peace with its neighbors. Armament monies for the first Great War (and soon to be a second Great War) there was always plenty of, but no food and clothing money for the people.
....The loggers of those times, like everyone else, put up with an awful lot of misery. I have heard people today say that it was really “all relative.” I say to those who would make such statements, that they have no idea of what they are talking about.
....I remember loggers who came to camp in some up-coast lonely inlet in January and stayed until December, without so much as a weekend off. Reason being that they had a family of five or six in the big city and they sent every nickel of their paycheck to them. That type of story was repeated in a great many camps.
....Today there is some protection for those out of work, or in need or want of medical care. Then there was not.

The individual is far more secure today then he was nearly fifty years ago.
....When I think of those men in that small float camp and in a hundred other camps like my father’s, I am amazed they didn’t rebel against society more than they did. But take it they did and we are all the better for it.
As an example of a difference, the work clothes of those days were heavy and cumbersome. If the work didn’t tire you out the clothes sure as hell would. There was heavy black rubber rain gear that made you sweat so much you might as well not wear any in the rain. There were stiff-as-a-board “rain-test” pants and jackets that stood up by themselves when taken off.
....I remember a rather small, tough hooktender by the name of Alf Larsen who came in the bunkhouse after work, threw his “bone-drys” on the floor – wet or dry – and put them back on the next morning – wet or dry. Foolish, yes, but possibly just fed up with fighting the outdoor elements plus living in those damned awkward clothes.
....There was of course no safety clothing for loggers in those days. Boommen drownings nearly stopped abruptly when life-jackets were intro-duced by law through the Workers’ Compensation Board. I believe an average of six boom-men drowned an-nually prior to the introduction of safety equipment.
....It’s strange how loggers resisted the hard hat when it first came along to the woods in the early 1940s. They said it gave them headaches, earaches, itch and claustrophobia, but it stopped falling limbs from killing them.
....Camps that have bunkhouses today have color televisions that possibly bring in 42 channels from New York to L.A. Single rooms, saunas, and good living accommodations are the loggers’ lot today in most logging camps.
....It was different. I remember the


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long, narrow bunkhouses that held 12 men, with no partitions. A wood burning barrel-type stove in the center of the building made life miserable for those too close or too far away.
....The walls – believe this – were ship-lap boards one layer above the height of the logger’s bunk. The holes and chinks in the walls were plugged with news-paper to keep the wind out. The logger’s personal things like watch, change, razor etc. were kept above his bunk, generally in a wooden Pacific Milk box nailed to the wall. He kept a two compartment wooden orange crate by his bunkside for his can of tobacco and some form of ashtray.
....Things are relative? Not on your life, buster!
....A recent report says that business bankruptcies are 100 per cent greater this year than last, in B.C. I’m sure there are a good many forestry oriented businesses included in those sad figures. However, in the earlier times I write of here, It was not a case of bankruptcy for most small logging firms. They just died and the crew were either paid off or not. Generally the latter being the case.
....Logging operations of contract log-gers (handshake – no paper!) were shut down at a moment’s notice. While looking through some old papers recently I found a letter from “the big company” to my father, dated July, 1932. In it the writer, an officer of the big company, told him to close down within one week. Most contracts (writ-
ten!) today have at least a 30 day clause for closure.


....No doubt we’ve had a good run for a fairly good spell. B.C. in par-ticular has enjoyed some excellent logging years in the past 20. Let’s hope that world leaders of govern-ment and business can get things rolling again. Maybe we have to bear a bit of misery, but still not like the loggers of the 1930s, for I don’t know if we could handle it now. They seemed tougher some-how.
....A friend of mine in Scandinavia recently told me, “Bill, this is the only country in the world that we Scans know can give our markets a bad time. You see, Canada has quality forests – they cannot be replaced by Brazil’s. You have industrious people who know how to handle and harvest your forests – not newcomers to the forestry game who have to be taught “lesson one.” And you have the transportation in place – not a Russian forest that is transportation poor. You have all the ingredients.”
....These three things, as my friend points out, are really what our forestry future is all about – and it took the grim determination of those silent loggers of the 1930s plus the present day know-how of our new loggers, to pave the way for a steady forestry future.

So, hang on, buster, and –
Keep out of the bight,

Bill Moore