Loggers at Mineral Lake

October 4th, 2022 2 Minutes
Collection no. 0523.0291 c. 1950, Kootenay Spruce Mills at Mineral Lake – Image courtesy of the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History (CBIRH)

By Sasha Buckley, CBIRH Student Intern (MBSS Student)

Hello, it’s your favourite student intern. Today we’re talking about loggers because the thought came to mind, and the image came to my feed. To figure out what it was like to be a logger in Cranbrook, we first need to know what a logger is (you probably already know). A logger was a title given to people who chopped down trees and processed them. They typically worked six days a week, with Sunday being a day of rest, although, let’s face it, it was a maintenance day. As for hours, they were usually 12-hour shifts which could become longer if there were unfinished jobs. They would sometimes transport the logs by sled when there was snow and use horse carts and water for the rest of the seasons.

This is because these trees are made of wood, and wood is heavy – not only does it float, but it can also support the weight of other objects, keeping them above water. So, I’m sure you are asking the question: why do we need to gather wood? Wood is a rather versatile resource. Put simply, wood is tough. You can build structures with wood to make housing for the growing population of people. Wood is also cheap and easy to find, so that you can create many different structures. With the proper process, wood can also be turned into another helpful resource called paper, which can function as an alternative to soft plastic in most cases. One more thing about wood is it is burnable. This means you could use it as fuel to produce energy. Or you could be an arsonist (Har).

Most houses are made of wood, after all. Long story short, wood is a powerful resource available to us in large amounts, so why don’t we gather copious amounts of this stuff? Well, as you may know, wood comes from trees, and trees do many other useful things just for existing, so we need to leave a vast amount of trees upright so they can serve different functions that we need to survive. This means we can only harvest the wood from the ones we leave standing.

Trees are also a hazard because they often have sharp rods sticking out of them, which they use to grow leaves to harvest energy from the sun.

They are usually tall. Since the easiest way to harvest trees is to cut them from the base, trees would fall on top of them and easily impale unsuspecting loggers. Loggers typically cut off the sharp rods and took the more significant part of the tree, leaving the sharp rods on the ground, which was also a dying hazard as they could trip and get impaled by them.

There were also large studs in the ground left behind by the trees that were harvested as they were the tree’s base that the loggers could not harvest. Also, mentioning the sharp tools they used to get the job done, Logging was just dangerous. No one died at spruce mills in Mineral Lake however.

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