The Life of a Mineral Lake Logger
"It took him about five minutes after the moose had gone to recover his wits enough to come back to shore. As soon as he got back to solid footing on the trail, the willows crashed open again and with a bellow like a freight train, out came the moose, this time at full speed. She was determined to flatten my father into the ground. Still, a couple of well-placed hops and Dad was back on the logs again and running them far out onto the lake," said Melody in an excerpt taken from ‘Non-Swimmers Needn't Apply’ in Our First 100 Years, Crestbrook Forest Industries Ltd.
Melody Sr. managed to get a few photos of the incident and kept his footing, a necessity for a man who never learned to swim. Loggers were required to be swimmers for the job, and it was a secret that he never shared with the company for fear of job loss, according to Dan Melody’s recollection of the tale.
Other hazards on the job included brush fires, and Mineral Lake was no exception. When a neighbouring fire broke out in Moyie, all hands were on deck to extinguish the blaze. "Everyone was put to work fighting it for several days in a row with little more than shovels and water cans strapped to their backs. Eventually, water bombers were brought in from Calgary, and they dropped supplies to groups of men stranded in various locations around the perimeter of the fire."
Planes would eject "big pallets of supplies," which were parachuted to the woods near the men. On one occasion, a pallet carrying canned tomato juice, intended for the crew, exploded when it hit the ground abruptly after a small parachute was unable to safely carry the load. "It crashed to the ground like a ton of bricks, exploding tomato juice everywhere, and nearly killing a couple of men standing nearby to retrieve it,” said Melody. The logging camp enjoyed a fruitful run as did the men who called Mineral Lake home but eventually all good things must end.
“Fate dealt Crestbrook another blow when Kootenay Spruce Mills at Mineral Lake was destroyed by fire in August 1958,” Our First 100 Years, Crestbrook Forest Industries Lt, pg. 50