....It was a beautiful
day in Edmonton. Clear sky, mild, no wind. “Is
it always like this in Edmonton in mid-March?”
I asked. “Of course, Bill, this is the promised
....Well, I had promised
to be there for
The University of Alberta’s forestry graduation
evening to give a little chat about life in the salal
brush of Pacifica B.C. and sundry other topics, including
a poem or two.
....It was a really nice
event and an evening that meant a lot to the 30 grad-uating
forestry students. And as is com-mon in these classes
today, eight of them were young ladies. This would
be the lowest number of grads in a class for some
....I’d like to
tell you about the event because these young people
will become a part of the scene of the forest around
us in the years ahead.
festivities were to be held at the Edmonton Inn and
the orga-nizers had sensibly planned a meeting of
the Rocky Mountain Section of the Canadian Institute
of Forestry for that afternoon. I sat in and listened
to a panel discuss allowable annual cuts in Alberta
and found the session to be most informative and interesting.
Being a logger, I particularly enjoyed listening to
Dean Marshal give an excellent talk on the small logger’s
(that phrase kills me – I remember a small logger
who weighed over 400 pounds!) views on the problems
of AAC as it pertained to his company, Spray Lake
....In checking about
I became aware how delighted everyone was in looking
forward to the big evening’s events. The CIF
had chosen this day as their meeting in order to coincide
with the graduates’ night and the graduates
were pleased because it would enable all the CIF members
to be present at the ring ceremony.
those not familiar with this cer-emony, it is the custom of
the Canadian Institute of Foresters to present the new graduates
with a ring to welcome them into the fold.
....Like most graduations of
university students, the affair is always one of excitement
and sort of thanksgiving. At this stage students have put
in about 17 years of studies and are really ready to cast
loose the shackles that have bound them to books.
....I have always found the forestry
fraternity, students or graduates, to be a rather quiet and
undemonstrative group. Being as how their chosen work is the
relative quietness of forests, I suppose all things fit. I
will refer to this a bit later.
....There was indeed a nice hum
in the ceremonies room of the Edmonton Inn that evening, as
the parents and friends, faculty members, foresters and grad-uating
foresters met to celebrate the occasion. A very fine banqueting
table was laid on, and it appeared as though some of the young
chaps had held off for several days in anticipation of the
....As the room settled down
from the chatter and clatter, Peter Murphy, Associate Dean
of Forestry took the lectern and gave the graduating class
the message from the faculty. He reminded them of their years
of preparation for this event, and now it was time to head
out and serve the forests of Canada well.
....Professor Murphy proposed
a toast to the class and this was well answered with a toast
to the professors by grad-uating student Wybo Vanderschnit.
....Then, what I consider one
of the most difficult honors of the evening – the Val-edictorian
Address – was given in fine style by Greg Fenton. Greg
had a good delivery and thanked his university, the professors
and the many others who con
tributed to the
class’s years of training.
....It then became time for this good
writer to earn his good dinner – so a few steps to the podium
to talk about loggers and trees and things.
....“I didn’t come here
to tell you about recessions and strikes and lockouts and poor times.
I came here to talk about hope and heart. In spite of a world that
seems bent on harming itself, you will have to have these two qualities
in your life’s makeup if you expect to succeed.
....“Our forests are Canada’s
second greatest asset. Given to us as a free crop to use and care
for. This means replacing as we use. We are not doing exactly that,
and your voices must join with others in demanding that political
decisions are made that will ensure we maintain proper care and
a tree planted for a tree felled policy.”
....I reminded the class of Canada’s
quality forests and her quality transpor-tation systems and mostly
of her num-ber one asset – her quality people. I spoke of
my friends in Finland who never fail to remind me of these three
powers – quality fibre, quality trans-portation and quality
....“If this is so, then why
should we worry, or why should we fear the competition? Well, firstly,
the ones we fear don’t have to be on foreign shores We are
the ones we must fear the most. We are the ones who can write our
own fate if we fail to get our act together.
....“And getting our act together
means everyone in this field of forestry – management, labor
and governments – start pulling together and not treat each
other like the enemy.
....We must be positive – we
must not jeopardize the qualities I mentioned – and we must
not get rattled by the media’s insatiable search for headlines