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Ken Drushka
Madeira Park (B.C.), Harbour Publishing, 1992. 304pp, paper, $39.95
ISBN 1-55017-072-4. CIP.

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by Adele Case.

Volume 21 Number 3
1993 May

Colourful, graphically impressive and replete with vignettes and anecdotes that add a human dimension to this history of logging on the west coast, Drushka's work is a "must read" for all who want to know more about this major resource industry. Jacketed in forest green and bound in a dark woodsy colour, the book is a testament to the author's diligence and meticulous research skills. Moreover, it is improved by intelligent editing and the artistic skills of all who had a part in its production.

Drushka worked for years in the industry, as a journalist, a logger, a silviculture contractor, and a sawmill owner. His comprehensive work contains historic black-and-white photographs from many of the logging museums in various B.C. cities.

Logging is not a matter of a man's trekking into the forest, axe in hand, to fell any useful tree. This book details the problems of felling, topping, hauling, yarding, skidding, floating, sorting, grading and getting the wood to users by means of teams of oxen or horses on skid roads, railway engines on wooden trestle bridges, logging trucks on company-made roads, barges on difficult tidal waterways, and helicopters. As well/ a number of chapters clearly and fully deal with the multiplicity and complexity of the machines used by loggers, from the earliest days to the present. One section deals with the special difficulties of logging in "the jungles" (the hundreds of islands and slopes - often steep-sided - of deep inlets up the northern coast of B.C.).

Not just the giant corporations are documented. This history gives information about many small, independent operators. Anecdotes give the reader some background to the difficulties in the work, the humour of the loggers, and some wryly ironic yarns that show the "never say die" spirit of loggers. Today, people might forget that resource industries were the fuel for British Columbia's growth. Success came only with hard work, and leaders in the woods or in the board rooms were individuals who possessed both physical and psychological strengths.

Drushka's history of logging on the west coast is not a political work. In his summing up, the author laments the bureaucratic ineptitude, the corporate greed and the foreign corporations that have little concern for the infrastructure of those who had made their life from work with the trees of the province. Drushka suggests that the logging industry be redefined by those who have shared in the work - those who have had "rain in their lunch buckets."

For the historian, the silviculturist or the serious reader, there is an excellent appendix of sources, as well as a listing of those used for oral history reminiscences, or memoirs. An index and appendix showing coastal log production in board feet is also added. This is a book that should be available in all B.C. libraries, and widely in Canada too.

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