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Barry Coulson
Port Alberni (B.C.), MCB Communications, 1992.163pp, paper, $18.95
ISBN 0-9695896-0-3. CIP.

Grades 7 and up/ Ages 12 and up

Reviewed by Adele Case.

Volume 21 Number 3
1993 May

The Logger's Digest is a long-overdue look at the "on the job" life of a west coast logger. With humour that is often ribald, but always modest and truthful, Barry Coulson's collection of personal experiences, anecdotes, Worker's Compensation Board notices (giving details of fatal accidents), pieces of poetry, and memoirs of long-time employees and retired loggers should not be missed by anyone who wants a good read.

Both covers of the book show graphically the immense changes in logging technology, from straining teams of horses to the latest heli-loggtng techniques using a hydraulic grapple. In these days of costly timber, the airborne approach is at times the only one available.

Throughout the book there are dozens of excellent black-and-white photographs that show the many changes that have occurred in logging through the years. Skid roads, trestle bridges, and enormous logging camps in which the workmen were literally "in the boonies" for months at a time have given way to more modern road systems, telephone contact with families, and ecological awareness in the management of a precious resource. Here and there throughout the book are "loggerisms" (one-liners that use the special lexicon of the woodsman, or make a wry joke: "I need some new hand-socks!" translates as new gloves, and "How about a shot of YMCA whiskey?" refers to lemonade or any other soft drink).

The author began as a humble choker-man and, as the son of the boss (the "push"), he was at the back of the crummy (the workbus that took the men to the site). He learned the ropes from Native workers, and later experienced all the major facets of the business. In the stories and anecdotes the reader gains insight into the camaraderie among the workers, and learns a number of unusual terms.

No one can read this fine collection without having several good laughs, and it will brighten a dull day for many readers who appreciate the west coast forests and want to know more about our major resource. The book finishes with a first-rate glossary of the terms used.


Adele Case teaches English at Britannia Secondary School in Vancouver, British Columbia.
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