wonder what ever happened to good old so-and-so? I suppose
we all at some time wake up to the fact that time has
passed by and things around us have changed. Is it possible
that events change quicker today, or is the blur of
the fast track dulling time?
....As a reader might know,
I like to remind people of the yesterdays in this fascinating
forest around us. We in the industry so often forget
that to the out-sider, many of the events and people
involved in our history are unique and Paul Bunyonish.
It’s an industry with a mystique that no other
large modern industry has ever had.
....The average city dweller
is familiar with, say a fishing industry: “Why,
sure, Louis, you go out on the ocean in a boat and you
catch a bunch of fish. That’s the fishing industry.”
....Or the mining industry:
“Like, ah, you dig a hole in the ground and you
get this ore and you bust it up in a grinder, and like,
there you have a mining industry!”
....But, friends, Sam City
reads about giant machines that lift a tree off its
stump and limb it and lay it on a truck without a human
hand ever touching the tree. That’s mystique.
Or they see on the video thousands of acres of forest
burning up in forest fires and yet there are still lots
of trees. That’s mystique. Or they hear stories
about loggers who climbed the wooden spars and danced
on top. That is mystique!
....Yes. Indeed, we are
gazed upon as something apart from the everyday walks
of peoples – and apart from your ordinary garden
variety industry. So what’s wrong with that? Not
a darn thing. I only say remember it and don’t
presume that today’s city folk under-
Let them know we are different. Anyway, it’s good for
your stories and your ego!
....The pathway of time has seen
the disappearance of many occupations in our industry, particularly
in the logging sector. In thinking back on some of them I
find myself identifying faces to well forgotten jobs and I
thought it might be fun to remind ourselves of some of the
ways we were.
....Jerk Wire Whistle Punk –
now there was a beauty. In September of ’74 in the BCL,
I wrote of this uniquely named chap whose job it was to relay
logging signals from the lads hooking on to the logs out in
the felled and bucked to the steam donkey engineer in at the
tall wooden spar tree.
....The “punk” as
he was known around camp really came in two varieties. There
was the bug-eyed young fellow who was starting out in the
woods, and who lived in fear of his hooktender’s hollering.
The other was really not called “punk,” but rather
“signalman,” for he was a professional person
who followed the trade and did not fear any hierarchy on the
....A length of galvanized clothes-line
wire was stretched from the steam whistle atop the steam donkey
engine, and by ingenious means out to near the scene of the
logging. Here, within yelling distance, the “punk”
listened for commands from his crew to “go ahead,”
“slack lines” or “stop” the chokers
that were attached to the mainline and haul-back cables.
....A cold, miserable job of
standing still and listening for the holler in summer while
flies buzzed about you. Auto-mation was a blessing for this
...Then there was the “Drag
Some worked on the
water at booming grounds. Others worked on land, bucking trees into
specified lengths -the forerunner of the chain saw.
....The land job was not too compli-cated.
A little single piston engine known as the “Wee McGregor”
was mounted on a small wooden frame that could be moved or pulled
about by one man. It was set yup to a log, often in the steam donkey’s
wood yard, and the little engine would push and pull a heavy saw
blade through the tree, cutting it into the lengths desired.
....It was the pond machines I remem-ber
with mixed emotions. These little rascals were set up on a small
log float with a small roof overhead. The frame was in a fixed position
and a set of wooden pulleys and small rope held the saw up. The
drag saw man held on to this rope and guided the saw with his foot
across one or two floating logs, held firmly in front by a big ratchet
....It was as job of splash and gas
fumes and noise and a thrashing big blade. You kept your eye on
the situation and you waited for quitting time. In those days many
trees were brought to the water in their full length which necessitated
them being bucked into log lengths. It was a busy job when the logs
were pouring in to the booming grounds and the time went pretty
fast. The drag saw man wore heavy black rubber rain gear over his
work clothes to keep him somewhat dry. A wet job and a steady job.
Another victory for automation.
....Blacksmiths – oh yes, Gerry,
there is the odd one still about of these wonderful tradesmen. But,
not too many. Strong men who knew how to mould a bar of iron into
a useful tool