by Bill Moore
He would walk through the beer parlors of the Penn-sylvania Hotel or the Stanley or the West and tell the male beer drinkers – ladies and gents were divided then – “I’ve got ten dollars for a rigging slinger, $15 for a boomman and $25 for a high rigger. Come on boys, we gotta keep the logs rolling.”
....The time was the 1940s and so many men were away fighting in far-off lands. Still the logging industry had to keep the logs moving for the war effort. Not just the glamorous Sitka Spruce for the famed Mosquito Bomber, but trees of all species for pulp and paper and lumber.
....The “man-catchers” prowled the skid road streets of Vancouver looking for loggers or potential loggers. He would check in with the logging company he worked for in the morning, find out who was needed and draw some daily expense money. Then off he would go in search of whistle-punks, cooks, and donkey-punchers.
....As the war lengthened, employees in the logging camps were frozen to their jobs. You couldn’t be fired and you couldn’t quit unless the sky fell down. It was a necessary measure for the country, but it put strains on the camps in many ways.
....The selective service branch of the federal government could instruct a man to go to a logging camp without the man having any qualifications. I recall well two hand fallers arriving in camp who, up to a few days previous, had been taxi drivers on the Vancouver streets. They apparently didn’t hunger for army life – so they said they could be loggers.
....It was remarkable the two fellows stayed alive for the next two weeks. And it was remarkable that they could leave a stand of big west coast Cedars and Hemlocks in a half-felled, tent-like condition. Fortunately the sky fell down and they agreed the army was a much safer place to be than a logging camp. They volunteered.
..From 1943 to 1945 the good logging crews in the camps
|A/18 British Columbia Lumberman November, 1985|
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(Cont’d from pg. A/18)
his rounds each
morning with company cash in his pocket, ready to buy beer for the boys
or pay a tap man for a hot tip.
be solved by a brown bag bottle of spirits being slipped to the security man. Eyes would turn the other way and the wobbly logger would make his way up the gangplank. Once on board it was pretty well assured the fellow would be soon out in the tall timber doing his stuff.
....Dave passed away some years ago. But he is fondly remembered by many loggers as one of the fairest and decent of a trade that at times could be a bit unsavory back in those wild west days of hiring loggers for camps.
....The man-catchers were sort of a phenomenon of the difficult war years. In the 1930s and again in the 1950s, logging employment agencies would sometimes have a man out on the streets and in the various watering holes, keeping tabs on who was in town and ready to ship out. But there wasn’t quite the same fever to the scene that would be generated by the man-catchers of the mid1940s.
....Prior to the Second World War there were several independent logger employment agencies mostly in and around Vancouver’s famed Skid Row. Herb Hicks, George Lamont and Bill black were names that come to mind. These men were responsible for the hiring of tens of thousands of B.C. Coast loggers in the hey-day of high-leading.
....They each had their own employment office and there would always be men haunting their places looking -->
( Cont’d on pg. A/21)
( Cont’d from pg. A/20)
Keep out of the bight,
|A/20 British Columbia Lumberman November, 1985|