month marks my fifteenth year of writing about the forest
around us for B.C. Lumberman. I have enjoyed it because I
find the industry and the forests – and particularly
the people involved – to be very interesting and sometimes
....Canada is a country that
depends on her forests for a good part of her economy –
be it in the industry of pulp and paper making, or lumber,
or tour-ism. Our forests are our number one bread-winner and
the people who work at the varied businesses of those forests
have some interesting stories to tell.
....We have an ideal climate
for the fibre of softwoods, and all the steel and aluminum
and plastic will only keep being a competitor to wood –
and never a substitute.
....Our challenge for the future
will be to properly look after these great areas of forest
land. It will take some doing.
....But now if I may indulge
myself (thank you, Ed.) I’d like to look back through
the past years and remember some of the places and events
– and especially the people that I have written about.
....December, 1970, was about
New Year’s resolutions and went on to say “I am
sure it’s fair to say the forest industry has come through
one of the worst years in the past two decades.”
....Well really all there was
in ’70 was falling lumber and plywood prices, a crippling
towboat strike, long drawn out labor negotiations in the logging
industry, and pulp mill strikes. Actually not a bad year when
you think of the past few!
....July of ’71 was a happy
event when these pages reported that Premier W.
a great deal more should be done. Remember – Keep B.C.
Clean – and Green. Back to the interesting people.
....And one I described in September
of ’73 was Sam Parrish, a logging camp cook –
short of stature and a bit on the round side. A delightful
man of English vintage and from the old school of cookhouse
cooks. The stories of Sam are legend and I wrote this one:
....Sam was serving up dinner
to 200 loggers in ’26 when after only a few minutes
one of the flunkies came running up to Sam wide-eyed and out
of breath. He said, “Sam, You Got One!” Sam looked
up from dishing the potatoes and said, “Wot you mean
– I got One?”
....The flunky, ashen faced,
said, “There’s a logger dead with his face in
the carrots just a sittin at the table – you got, Sam!”
It later turned out that the logger had died from a heart
attack. But it became a good Sam Parrish story. A memorable
....Allowable Waste. A term I
took as unacceptable to express the fibre waste we leave in
our forests. Oh, yes, I was told about the other terms such
as “Economically unfeasible” and “but we’re
getting better.” But the philo-sophy of waste was with
us 10 years ago as it was 50 years ago – and unfortunately
as it still is.
....I could go on and on about
it. But, I said it in March of ’74 and it still goes,
“What we leave behind causes other people in other lands
to look upon us as wasteful and fat cats. What we leave behind
causes us to be lazy with new ideas and allows our competitors
to beat us to the customers’ dollars.”
officially proclaimed Log-ging Sports as the “Official
Industry Sport of B.C. – Order in Council #712.”
And we’ve never looked back.
....It was always fun to start
an article with something like: “There are giant iron
machines and people in the forest around us – and with
apologies to the Great Traktor Company – I prefer the
people.” Such a story in ’71 was “and Then
There Was Monahan.” A friend to coastal loggers and
one of the true great forest industry sales persons of an
era of great sales people. We miss that twinkling man, that
....And we had journeys to forests
in Finland, and we sat with production committees there, and
we compared life in their woods to ours. Both good. Also in
’72 I reported on a Festival of Forestry trip to the
Black Spruce Forests of Quebec with young fores-ters-to-be
and some champion loggers. We put on sports demonstrations
in Chicoutimi and Place Ville de Marie in Montreal and our
eastern Canadians loved the loggers from Colombie Brittanique.
....In mid’73 the topic
of debris on B.C.’s beautiful Salt Water Main Street
was recorded. That’s our protected water avenue that
brings us revenue, year in year out as the tugs and barges
and tourist ships and fish boats and every form of water conveyance
ply up and down our 600 mile waterway. Some work has been
done over the past 10 years to clean up the lower water areas
of the Gulf of Georgia, but I
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whistle punks and a pulp mill town of 1,000 people that vanished
(Swanson Bay) were columns in ’74. and we talked about
the walking logger becoming rare.(They still are). But, a
note to my dear Editor – the magazine was fat, oh great
one, and the years were filled with fine fourth quarter reports.
....In January of ’75 I
wrote of our logging fatals and accidents – as I have
each year and will continue to do. Logging is a hazardous
business and anyone who does not understand this meaning should
not be in the business. That goes for executives and chokermen.
....We can and someday will teach
the workforce that careless moments cause nearly all the sorrow.
I believe the only way to better safety is by the dedicated
real joint effort of union leaders and management leaders.
Not just at the camp level, but up at the top.
....Later, in May of ’75,
an article about “Teachers of the Trees” where
the Festival of Forestry program for showing school teachers
an intensive tour and look in at what is going on in our industry
and our forests was described. These tours have now taken
in hundreds of teachers and have exposed them to forestry
across Canada. The letters of appreciation have been all the
thanks wanted, for we feel that some of our children are getting
a well balanced story of Canada’s forests.
....Then there was ’76
and “Heroes of the Hemlock.” Well we had fun with
this one because it so happens that the writer is an old movie
buff and likes nothing better than a game of trivia including
old logging movies. Those Hollywood writers told it as it
was – like:
“Edward Arnold would often play the role of the Timber
Baron. At his side would be some nasty chap like Barton MacLean,
who loved nothing better than roughing up young Hemlock Heroes
such as William Lundigan or Fred MacMurray. Get a bunch of
the boys together, Jake (always a mean foreman’s name)
and head up for the Twin Pines Logging outfit and burn down
the cookhouse! I’ll show that Jeb Goodly and his crippled
daughter that they better pay the installment on the New Loci
– or get out of the country.”
....Ah, the woes of the early
loggers when caught in the web of the timber baron! The script
writers of Hollywood succeeded quite well in misrepresenting
a whole forest industry of the west –
American and Canadian.
And some-where, tonight, those stories are still being unfolded
on a screen. Ah, but I loved old logging movies.
....There was a very nice trip
to the Fin- land forests reported in ’76 and the writer
was once again dramatically shown that there need not be allowable
....The year ’77 was a
sort of fun writing year. Things like “Support Your
Local Logger” didn’t change the image of a logger,
but I hope it made some people realize that besides getting
blamed for the demise of the fishing in-dustry and blamed
for all the smoke pollution plus being an ornery sort of cuss,
your local logger could use a little community support once
in a while. Do it.
....Then there was the story
about the “Good Ship,” the old CPR Maquinna coastal
steamer that was hell on sea-sick loggers going back to their
camps on the west coast of rugged Vancouver Island.
....We reported once again from
Finland on the 17 nation Chain Saw Contest for Loggers. This
was the first time a Canadian team had competed in Europe
against a host of nations including Russia and all her bloc,
Scandinavia, France and others. Our Champions – Ron
Hartill, Owen Carney and Gord Hart – discovered that
the Europeans are super chain saw operators. Ron won a gold
medal in an Olympic style of games and we thought we were
on our way to many more. But we learned better. In Norway,
Oct ’80, Dick Herrling won a silver – but back
in Finland in ’83, we drew a blank.
....By the way, dear reader,
we are on our way to Sweden in late September with a team
that is seasoned and well trained. Let’s see how it
turns out. Go for it, Kanada!
....In ’78 we talked of
“The Enemy – The Chainsaw” and it was certainly
noticed in writings and discussions from many places of
a new emphasis on this dangerous but efficient tool that
has caused so much grief in our industry.
....I did a three part series
in that same year on “fifty Years of Contract Log-ging,
a sort of history of the writer and my father’s life
in the logging wilds of northern Vancouver Island. Hey,
how does time go by so fast?
....November, ’79 will
long be remem-bered in the travel industry for the manner
in which loggers were told in an interview with the globetrotting
bon vivant, Cornelius Burke, just where to vacation, etc.
An excerpt from that memorable interview follows:
....Moore: Mr. Burke, what
advice would you give to a young chap from one of our up-coast
camps when he decides to spend his hard earned cash money
on a trip somewhere in the world?
....Burke: Go back to camp!
....Moore: How does one say,
“Did you get a lot of logs today, in Turkey?”
....Burke: Allah giveth –
and Allah taketh away.
....In February, ’80
I wrote of the Forest Centre Project. A project that many
in the forest business hope will be accomplished when we
finally get this recession out of the way. Patience., patience.
....It has always been fun
to write a Christmas story about the earlier days on the
float camps. There are a few memories of those times yet
to be recorded.
....Of all the stories about
people (again with apologies to the Great Yellow Tractor
Company), I think I liked “Max’s Story”
in the March and April issues of ’82 the best. Here
was a man who had been a logger, boat-builder, carpenter,
and fisherman all his life in a tiny coastal community.
He chopped his own wood, he built his own beautiful fish
boat and he participated in the early days of logging. He
asked nothing of his government except to be allowed to
live on good Canadian soil. He paid his way.
....There are people and there
are machines in the forest around us – and there are
thousands of stories yet to be told. I’d like to do
a few more.
....And do –
“Keep out of the bight!”