The Life of a Mineral Lake Logger

Cranbrook Street Scene c.1947 : Mike Melody and young man walking the Baker Street in Cranbrook, BC
Cranbrook Street Scene c.1947
Mike Melody c.1949 : Mike Melody with his catch of the day c.1949
Mike Melody c.1949

After being scaled by a scaler, the logs were rolled onto the skidway by a hook man. At this point, the log was approximately 16 feet long. It was then transported onto a logging truck by a jammer operator. The jammer (an A-frame equipped with two pulleys) allowed bullrope men, which consisted of a team of two, frequently used horses in a crosshaul set-up to lift the log onto a truck to be transported and moved to a logging pond to be processed at the sawmill.

Camp life at Mineral Lake could be hard, and men often sought spirits as a form of entertainment, comfort, and socialization during off duty hours. Images collected by Dan Melody of his logging father Mike Melody often show men with a beer in their hands on social occasions at Mineral Lake. Recreational opportunities were abundant at camp and the men had a wide range of activities to choose from.

"Guys would hunt, fish, pick berries, or just relax. Card games were popular, and I've been told drinking was popular, so there would have been some of that too. I'm sure this was only on special occasions, and it wasn't tolerated during the work week," Dan said.

The men were treated well by the company. They enjoyed a life of hard work that was complemented by the observance of major holidays like Christmas and Easter. Workers had ample opportunity to spend time with family, friends, and loved ones. On weekends, men with families and homes in Cranbrook could visit, while others would stay in camp to take care of personal chores. This included repairing clothes, boots, and sewing as well as laundry.

Automobiles were considered a luxury at the time and families might have one vehicle between them. The men that owned cars probably offered rides into town for those without. Sometimes they would go into town to drink and amuse themselves, as well as pick up supplies and clothing. Cheques were cashed in Cranbrook at Swanson's Men's Wear, as there were no bank machines at this time.

Two women and one man sitting at the kichen table : Two women and one man sitting at the kichen table
Two women and one man sitting at the kichen table

Life at Mineral Lake was rich and filled with activities for the men, and on special occasions, family and friends could enjoy being at the camp. Picnics, ball games, horseshoe tournaments, hunting, and fishing trips were all part of the experience. The workers often provided music and entertainment on social occasions; anyone who could play an instrument was put centre stage to the delight of coworkers. Most social events were held on weekends and holidays, only, with the work being the focal point for the men. It was their main priority to support their families and to do a good job.