Loggers’ Memorial should be preserved, says local faller

Forestry is still the upper North Thompson Valley's biggest industry and its workers should be remembered

  • Tue Oct 11th, 2016 5:00am
  • News

Faller Robin Mann sips a cup of coffee after bringing down a giant Douglas fir in the Raft River watershed in 1984. A slab from the log later was made into the centrepiece of the Loggers’ Memorial in Reg Small Park in Clearwater. The structure is now rotting and town council is asking for input on where it should be located. Deadline for input is Oct. 14.

The Loggers’ Memorial is falling apart. What should be done about it? District of Clearwater wants to know.

“This is a logging community and it was a dangerous job. I think we should build something that lasts,” said Robin Mann, the logger who, in 1984, cut down the big Douglas fir that was used to make the giant slab that is the centrepiece of the memorial.

According to Mann, the tree was located in a stand of other big Douglas fir and cedar in the Moilliet Creek drainage at 22 km on Road 9 in the Raft River watershed.

“It was the biggest fir I ever fell, although I fell a few cedar over the years that were bigger,” he said.

Former Birch Island resident Dave Tremblay was with him at the time.

Tremblay had only a relatively small John Deere 555 crawler-tractor to skid the log.

The log was too big for the 555’s grapple and so the pair needed to work together and use some ingenuity to wrestle it to and then onto the truck.

It went to Wadlegger’s sawmill, which was the only mill in the area with a saw big enough to cut the log  However, the butt was too big to be sawn. It sat in the sawmill yard and then at 52 Ridge Resort (now the KOA) for several years.

In 1993 the Loggers Memorial was constructed and a slab from the log became its centrepiece.

Pete Pelton, a logger from Upper Clearwater, used a chainsaw with an extra-long bar to cut the slab. Another slab remained on display at Clearwater/Wells Gray KOA.

Mann started working in the bush in 1979 or 1980 for Larry Colborne. Within a week he was falling.

He fell trees for several years, then started working for BC Ambulance, eventually rising to become the Clearwater unit chief.

About seven years ago he went back to falling, but this time in a feller-buncher and working for Clusko Logging.

The machine can cut up to two or three thousand trees in a day, he said. This compares to the eight or 10 he might have cut more than 30 years ago while in the patch of four- or five-foot diameter cedar and fir by Moilliet Creek.

Not only are the new machines more productive but, more importantly to Mann, they are far safer.

“There were quite a few incidents over the years. We need to remember those who didn’t make it,” he said.

An ad placed recently in the Times by District of Clearwater asks for input on what to do with the Loggers Memorial.

The ad notes that the structure is rotting on the bottom and becoming a safety hazard. Town council is therefore seeking input from the community on where it should be relocated.

People can express their concerns by emailing admin@docbc.ca or by calling 250-674-2257 and leaving a message for Roger Mayer, the parks, facilities and safety manager.

Deadline for comments is Friday, Oct. 14.

Inset photo: Roy Cragg (l) and Guy Roy pool their talents to attach a 300-year-old Douglas fir slab to the Loggers’ Memorial in Reg Small Park in 1993.

Below: Dignitaries line up as they take part in the official opening of the Logging Industry Workers’ Memorial in Barriere’s Fadear Park last April. Some have suggested something similar might be done in Clearwater. Alternatively, perhaps one memorial for the whole valley is enough.     Times file photos