The Life Of A Mineral Lake Logger

The men were treated well by their superiors and by CS&D, adding to the inclusion and productivity of the workers. “The bosses at Mineral Lake were outstanding men and always willing to listen or to help with any problems that arose. They were pretty loyal to the company at that time, knowing it was their source of income to provide for their families. The company knew that if it treated its employees decently, they’d be more productive. It worked both ways back then.”

Wages were fair for the cost of living during that time, with workers making roughly $150 per month. “Dad used to laugh at the pay he made back then, but at the same time he told me how his money went so much further than later in his life—he always told me that no matter how much you make, it’s always going to be too little.”

Gas in the first half of the 20th century was 27 cents per imperial gallon, and eggs were 57 cents per flat of 18. Melody’s father paid $12 per month for rent at one point. Fair wages accompanied opportunity for the advancement of dedicated and diligent workers who could move up the chain of command if they demonstrated skill and proficiency in their position

A stroke of good luck accompanied Mike Melody’s arrival as a worker at Mineral Lake. Mike was 19 years old and looking for a new job at a sawmill, after his career as a short order cook was unsuccessful. Unbeknownst to the eager young Mike who set out on foot to seek his fate, the General Manager of CS&D pulled up alongside him in an old truck, just as he stepped onto the main highway, and offered him a ride. The mysterious man was Vic Brown, the future president of Crestbrook Forestries Ltd. The pair struck up a conversation, hitting it off right away, as Mike disclosed his plans to work at a logging camp. Brown drove him to Mineral Lake and showed him around. He offered Mike a job on the spot; the two remained lifelong friends.

Mike Melody was a logger from 1944 up until his death in 1984.

“Dad started out running logs on the lake and slowly worked his way inside to less dangerous jobs as many men did. Sometimes, back then, if someone got hurt, left the camp, or couldn’t do the job well, they’d be replaced with another suitable worker chosen by the foreman—there were no union nightmares like today.”

Adventures in camp were a way of life, and Dan recalls many stories told to him by his father. Pranks and jokes were fair game at Mineral Lake, and Mike was at the helm of a few legendary practical jokes, including disturbing the lunch ritual of one of his coworkers. “One time, my dad snuck into the kitchen ahead of a coworker, nailed his lunch pail to the bench, where the guy sat regularly, and snuck out. When the man rushed to grab his lunch and sit down, he almost twisted his arm off and ripped the lid off his lunch pail, scattering the contents all over the floor, much to the amusement of the other men as they drifted in to see the mess.”

Encounters with wildlife were also a concern for loggers, and men were generally wary of running into bears or mountain lions. One surprising day, when Melody Sr. was running logs, he was startled by a loud disturbance in the brush directly behind him; he turned to see a massive cow moose in a sour mood, and ready to charge. Grateful it wasn’t a bear, the quick-thinking logger pushed off from shore and into the water, watching as the moose retreated.

Kootenay Spruce Mills at Mineral Lake c.1949
Loading a logging truck at Mineral Lake Kootenay Spruce Mills It was owned and operated by Cranbrook Sash & Door.…
Kootenay Spruce Mills Employee c.1950
Kootenay Spruce Mills Logging Truck Driver changing a tire on his truck c.1950 Do you recognize this Truck Driver? If…
Kootenay Spruce Mills Employees c.1950
Kootenay Spruce Mills Employees at Mineral Lake Do you recognize these employees? If you do please let us know. Kootenay…