The Life of a Mineral Lake Logger

Loggers time for loggers at Mineral Lake landing c.1945 : Notice the Milk/Water canisters
Loggers time for loggers at Mineral Lake landing c.1945

Food wasn't a scarcity, and camp cooks were skilled at the culinary arts. Hunting was a regular sport with plentiful game nearby, and cooks had no problem serving up the kill of the day. The men never went hungry, and they enjoyed a high quality of food consisting of “big meals, fancy pies, and desserts.”

Living conditions were decent, with two to three men rooming together in the cabins. CS&D provided complimentary accommodations to the logging crew they employed. With the proximity of Cranbrook, it was a men-only camp, as families could come to and from on the weekend. There were no family unit dwellings known to be available at this time. "These guys were there to work, rest, and support their families," said Melody of the workers’ mentality.

Kootenay Spruce Mills at Mineral Lake c.1950 : Kootenay Spruce Mills was located at Mineral Lake, it was owned & operated by Cranbrook Sash & Door.
Kootenay Spruce Mills at Mineral Lake c.1950

Life at logger camps could be perceived as lonely, isolating, and challenging, but at Mineral Lake, the men shared a sense of duty and camaraderie. "Dad was pretty outgoing and didn't mention loneliness at all. He had a lot of friends in camp and there was always something to do. Then again, he was pretty young compared to many of the men and I'm guessing those with families missed them during the week or longer, depending on their resources to go home. Men were different then, relying on their own devices for entertainment."

Training on the job resulted in positions being handed down as workers left, and accidents were a reality of life at the camp with the absence of formal instruction according to Melody. "I don't recall hearing about anyone being killed up there, although injuries were fairly common. Guys would work through cuts, bumps, and bruises, and were quite tough as far as injuries go," he said. Photos:

Mike Melody at Kootenay Spruce Mills c.1950 : Mike Melody at Kootenay Spruce Mills Logging Pond on Mineral Lake c.1950
Mike Melody at Kootenay Spruce Mills c.1950

Men at the camps looked after one another, preventing severe incidents, injury, or death. They were a family of sorts and relied on each other to get through the long days and daunting work. "It was hazardous work sometimes, but everyone seemed to look out for one another to prevent anything serious from happening. I remember Dad telling me about a logging truck rollover, where the guy crawled out of the wreckage and asked when it could be fixed up so he could get another load. As the industry became more mechanized, and workers relied more on safety stops with equipment, injuries became more prevalent."