3. Resource Mining by the Sea: Mining and Forestry

An introduction to the Strait’s resource mine, 1849–1980s

Whereas the Strait’s Indigenous people had found practical uses for a great many elements of their natural environment, the settlers who arrived after 1850 were mostly interested in a few raw materials with rapidly growing global markets. Indigenous people with long-standing ties to the place were inclined to look upon its natural resources as an inheritance requiring careful stewardship. In contrast, settlers arriving from afar and looking to make their fortune in a strange land were more inclined to see a veritable resource mine: unlimited quantities of minerals, wood and fish, there for the taking.

Lumber being loaded on a ship at Chemainus Sawmill in the 1890s. Image E-08040 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

The Hudson’s Bay Company’s (HBC) ocean-going ships and global trade networks had allowed it to access markets around the Pacific for the Strait’s resources, including Nanaimo coal, Burrard Inlet timber and Fraser River Sockeye. Further advances in transportation and the rapid dispossession of the Strait’s Indigenous people then helped set the scene for a frenetic “resource rush” that ensued around the inland sea between the mid-1880s and World War I. A global downturn in 1913 depressed markets for all of the Strait’s export commodities, yet mining, and especially forestry and fishing, remained fundamentally important to the Strait’s settler economy between the wars and contributed to another boom after World War II.

Having derived much sustenance from the Strait’s natural bounty, many settlers believed its “unlimited resources” would continue to bring prosperity in the long term. The reality of mines, however, is that they always get worked out, and fish and wood were being harvested faster than they could be replenished. As resources diminished and human populations grew around the Strait, each industry experienced growing tensions. Foresters who were devastating salmon spawning streams came into conflict with fisheries advocates. Commercial fishers catching salmon met with increasing resistance from sport fishers and Indigenous people seeking fish for food. Mines poisoning coastal waters with acid drainage were brought to task, haltingly, by provincial authorities. Other kinds of resource industry pollution, and the impacts of these industries on recreation, went from being marginal issues to critical ones and again the province responded, slowly (chapter 5). Advocates of sustainability and environmental stewardship contin-ued to challenge the perception of the Strait’s resources as unlimited commodities for export.

Early mining by the shore, 1849–World War 

Mining, mostly of coal and copper, was the Strait’s biggest industry in the first decades of colonisation, and it played a decisive role in the early settler economy. These early mines, and the many quarries that opened in the following decades, were successful in large part because the water highway made them economically viable, easing exports to both nearby and distant markets.

Global coal production increased a hundredfold between 1800 and 1900, and coal quickly became the Strait’s most important export after mid-century. Nanaimo’s coal, first mined using Indigenous labourers, was being shipped to Honolulu and San Francisco Bay by the early 1850s. Discovery of more extensive coal beds stimulated rapid growth in production, and Nanaimo was soon one of the Strait’s largest towns, shipping 25,000 tons of coal a year by the late 1850s. Coal wharves dominated the waterfront, and the town centre was built on tidal lagoons and flats filled with mining waste.

Robert Dunsmuir’s Vancouver Coal Mining and Land Company bought the HBC mines at Nanaimo in 1861, and within a couple of years Nanaimo was loading almost 33,000 tons a year for California alone. Completion of the Central Pacific Railway in 1868 further boosted the American market for Nanaimo’s high-quality bituminous coal. Production grew to 80,000 tons a year by the 1870s, by which time Nanaimo’s settler population had reached a thousand. A decade later, Nanaimo’s population was nearing 5,000. The British navy’s ability to dominate the oceans now depended on its access to coal supplies around the world, and its ships patrolling the North Pacific depended on the Strait’s coal.

The Dunsmuirs lived at the head of Departure Bay in Nanaimo, where they could oversee the loading of their coal. They were shipping over half a million tons a year, by 1893, to California, Oregon, Alaska, China and the Russian Far East (see photographs here and here). Between the mid-1880s and 1900, Nanaimo’s population doubled to 10,000, about half the size of Vancouver at the time. Coal mining had also begun at Union (later called Cumberland), near Baynes Sound, in the late 1860s. That operation struggled until Dunsmuir acquired the mine in 1884, the same year he received the vast Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway land grant. By the late 1880s, the Dunsmuirs’ Union Mine was linked by a new railway to a deep-sea port on Baynes Sound, where the instant town of Union Bay grew up around the coal wharves. The mine transformed the local economy, and Cumberland’s coal became a driving force in the Comox Valley.

Departure Bay coaling facilities in the 1880s: Nanaimo coal fuelled trains in the western US. A BC Ferries terminal would later be built on the same site. Image E-06769 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

A geological survey led by Dr. G.M. Dawson combed the BC coast in the 1880s, searching mainly for coal deposits around the Strait. Dawson didn’t find any exciting new prospects, but others were undeterred. Over the next twenty-five years, miners searched for coal in many places around the inland sea, from Tumbo and Saturna Islands to Campbell River and Quadra Island and many places in between. Gabriola Island was the scene of much excitement over prospective coal mines in the late 1880s and ’90s. Local papers regularly announced promising deposits on Gabriola, which were just as regularly followed by disclaimers. Coal output on the western shore of the Strait, meanwhile, went on climbing through the first decade of the twentieth century. The Dunsmuirs developed another port town from which to export their coal, produced by new mines south of Nanaimo. They named it Ladysmith in honour of a rare British victory in the Boer War. By 1908, $66 million worth of coal had been extracted from Vancouver Island and remaining reserves were judged inexhaustible. Yet barely two years later, perhaps sensing coming changes, the Dunsmuirs sold their coal mines along with vast tracts of their railway lands.

The Western Fuel Corporation Mine in Nanaimo around 1900. Note the timber for shoring up mine shafts. Image D-05596 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Coal stimulated the economy, but metals seemed to offer the best prospects for getting rich quickly. A short-lived gold rush had erupted on the lower Squamish River valley in 1858. A little copper was mined there too, and on Saltspring and Lasqueti Islands. Other sites on the Strait were thought to be rich in copper, but prices were low and Chile’s giant mines were closer to Atlantic markets. Initially, iron was felt to be the better prospect and even generated a scandal in Victoria in the early 1870s. Amor de Cosmos, BC’s second premier, was accused by political opponents of using his position to gain access to rich iron claims on Texada Island and then launching the company’s stock on the London Stock Exchange while he was in that city on provincial business. The affair brought down the de Cosmos government, but it launched an iron-mining industry on Texada that continued off and on for a century and even attracted the interest of New York’s powerful Rockefeller family for a while. Iron was also mined, very briefly, on Redonda Island in the early 1890s.

It was soon clear, however, that copper was the most interesting metal on the Strait (see Figure 7). New opportunities had emerged for copper producers by the 1880s, as Montana’s vast Anaconda copper mine began shipping its ore to Puget Sound on the new Northern Pacific Railway. Anaconda had successfully challenged Chilean dominance of global markets and demonstrated the viability of western North America’s copper producers. Technological developments, particularly the Bessemer conversion process and electrolytic refining, stimulated copper demand. Growth in electricity generation and distribution, and growing numbers of electric motors, all required the pure copper wire that these new processes produced.

Low-grade copper extracted near the shore could be cheaply transported by sea. A mine was opened at Mount Sicker in the 1890s and almost 250,000 tons of ore was extracted from it by 1908. Smelters were built to render its ore, first at Crofton and then at Ladysmith (see photograph here). More exciting copper finds were made farther north. High-grade copper mixed with gold was found near Vananda (see photograph here), on the other side of Texada Island from the iron mine. By 1900 Texada had been declared “Canada’s most precious rock,” and its northeastern corner along Malaspina Strait “the richest twenty five square miles in BC.” Vananda became the focal point of a heady wave of mining-based excess that generated an exuberant social life. At the peak of its short boom, seven mines operated around the town, which boasted a small but memorable opera house.

Copper also transformed Howe Sound. Two prospects on Bowen Island aroused much interest in the late 1880s and early ’90s, leading to predictions that the island would become the province’s next big mining centre. A mine operated there for one morning but things didn’t work out as planned; it closed for good by noon, and Bowen’s copper boom was over. Copper was mined far longer at nearby Britannia Beach, south of Squamish. Discovered in 1888, the Britannia property sold at the turn of the century for $2 million. The mine was soon shipping 200 tons of rock a day to the Crofton smelter and went on to extract immense volumes of low-grade ore for seven more decades. Prospectors staked claims to many more copper and gold deposits around the Strait in these boom decades, from the Capilano River to Quadra Island. These claims were usually said to contain “copper mixed with gold,” a description that was sure to boost their market value, but few mines actually opened. The ones that did open—notably on Lasqueti and Quadra Islands early in the twentieth century—didn’t live up to expectations and soon closed.

A seemingly endless supply of coal and minerals fit perfectly with the settlers’ tendency towards materialism and short-term goals. They seemed obsessed with getting ahead, which meant exploiting resources, accumulating wealth and enjoying their newfound prosperity, and they had little time to notice or contemplate such things as the toxic chemicals flowing into the Strait. Mining would continue around the Strait after World War I, though coal mining declined and then ended. The early importance of the industry on the inland sea, and the role Indigenous people had played in it, would not be seen again.

Mining on the Strait after World War 

Mining declined around the inland sea after World War I, though the provincial government mostly continued to back the industry enthusiastically and regulate it reluctantly. Coal production peaked in the early 1920s and then went into a tailspin. Long the most important market for Vancouver Island coal (see photograph here), California had discovered oil and stopped importing the Strait’s coal completely by the mid-1920s. However, the war had stimulated demand for copper, which was used to make electrical wiring and armaments, and ore was shipped from Mount Sicker and Texada Island until the reserves were depleted in the 1920s. Much ore remained at the Britannia Mine on the steep shore of Howe Sound, though. Accessible only by boat, the Britannia settlement was almost wiped out by an avalanche in 1915, and a flood killed nearly a hundred people at the new townsite in 1921. But copper production climbed, and by the 1930s Britannia had become the largest copper mine in the British Empire.

Figure 7. Major mining and smelting activities on the Strait in 1914.

Despite rapid growth in mining globally after World War II, the industry contin-ued to slow down on most parts of the Strait as the most accessible mineral reserves declined, though there were exceptions. A popular summer resort and retirement community had developed in Gillies Bay on Texada Island to replace mining in the interwar years. But an upsurge in the demand for iron to produce steel saw the island’s rustic charm evaporate overnight when a new iron mine began operating near Gillies Bay in 1952. It exported almost 1.5 million tons of ore, mostly to Japan, before the mine closed in the 1970s. The Britannia Mine continued to thrive past World War II, remaining Western Canada’s largest copper producer. However, it closed for good in 1974, after the ore ran out.

The Tyee Copper Smelter in Ladysmith around 1900. Image G-02211 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Although mining had been the dominant economic driver in the early settler years, it soon ceded its place to fish packing and then to forestry as the primary industry around the Strait. And as it lost its economic value, its true costs started to come to light. The effects of decades of dumping mining pollutants into the Strait slowly came to public awareness. The province opened the Britannia Mine Museum in 1975 depicting the industry in a favourable light, but by 1980 the site was also recognised as one of North America’s largest sources of heavy metal pollution. More than 40 million metric tons of tailings had been dumped directly into Howe Sound or used as fill around Britannia Beach, and the site continued to leach toxic copper and zinc into Britannia Creek and Howe Sound long after the mine had closed.

Smelter at a mine at Vananda, on Texada Island, in 1899: Vananda’s mines responded to soaring worldwide demand for copper. Image I-55309 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

In an overview of coastal BC prepared in the early 1960s, Roderick Haig-Brown suggested it was “by no means unlikely that another major [copper] producer [like Britannia] remains to be found somewhere in the unexplored immensity of the Coast Range.”1 And he was right. In the late 1970s, a mining company with rights to rich copper and molybdenum deposits underlying much of Gambier Island in Howe Sound announced that it planned to extract 250 million tons of ore from the island property. The perception of the Strait as a limitless natural resource had shifted, however, and locals, mostly cottagers from Vancouver, considered the proposed mine a grave threat to their island.

Waste rock from the Union Bay coal washer (seen here in the 1920s, near the end of Vancouver Island’s coal boom) is perhaps still affecting water quality in Baynes Sound in the twenty-first century. Image D-07220 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Projected to cover two-thirds of Gambier Island, the development was to include an open-pit mine 300 metres deep, several dams and tailing ponds, ore storage and transport facilities, and a bulk-loading port. The operation was expected to blast 90,000 tons of rock a day, which would generate vast storage piles and create a fine cloud of dust over the island. The mine, said its proponents, would be floodlit at night so it could operate around the clock. And it was in line with BC’s Mineral Act, which permitted this sort of development on Crown land. It was drastically at odds, however, with the island’s own land-use plan. It also clashed with the recently created Islands Trust (chapter 6), which encompassed Gambier Island. After a bitter five-year struggle, the company eventually abandoned the proposal. In this instance at least, the Strait’s role as recreation space prevailed over its role as a resource mine. The forests would remain more of a battleground.

Mining the forests of the Strait, 1849–World War 

Britain had become a key player in global timber markets by the late eighteenth century. Lumber, especially for ship construction, had become an indispensable commodity, moved by sea across ever greater distances in the early nineteenth century as both demand and local deforestation increased in many locations around the world. Demand from boat builders declined later in the century, but other uses for wood—especially for the construction of houses and railways—ensured that it continued to soar. By the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Strait’s wood had become a valuable commodity in this rapidly growing global market. The forests of the inland sea remained the heart of BC’s forest industry well into the twentieth century. This was partly because of the great value of the giant trees that grew in the temperate coastal forests; partly because of the ease with which this timber could be moved to shoreline mills, then lumber, pulp and paper exported from them; and partly because of the Strait’s ability to absorb vast volumes of untreated waste with few apparent ill effects.

The HBC built a sawmill in Victoria in 1848 and one in Nanaimo a few years later. These small mills employed Indigenous workers and made few inroads into Vancouver Island’s forests. However, HBC dispatches alerted the British Colonial Office to the immense untapped forest resources of this place. According to Governor James Douglas, it was a land of “inexhaustible [emphasis added] forests of the finest fir timber in the world…which [together with its rich fisheries] will become a source of boundless wealth to its inhabitants at some future time.”2 A decade later, colonial planners in London noted, “The principal timber…grow to a gigantic size.”3 Yet for early settlers intent on farming, these enormous trees were often more a nuisance than an asset and commercial logging initially remained very small-scale.

A stand of old-growth Douglas fir on Vancouver Island. As colonial planners in London noted in the mid-19th century, such gigantic, high-quality timber was a treasure waiting to be exploited. lightphoto/Thinkstock/iStock photo

In 1865 the Crown began to grant timber leases. Previously timber could legally be cut only on the logger’s own land, but under the new system commercial lumbering on land leased from the government spread quickly around the Strait. To ensure that local lumber needs were being met, the province virtually gave away the coastal forests to lumbermen. For example, the Moody Sawmill paid 2½ cents per hectare for more than 40 square kilometres of timberlands around Burrard Inlet. The inlet had the advantage of combining heavily timbered slopes with a sheltered deep-water port, and its mills were already shipping hundreds of thousands of board feet of lumber every month to the San Francisco Bay area by the early 1860s. By 1863 the Moodyville mill on the northern shore of Burrard Inlet, near the present-day foot of Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver, was sawing 40,000 board feet of lumber a day. Hastings Mill soon opened on the south side of the inlet, and by 1868 the two were producing close to 10 million board feet of lumber a year, as well as a million shingles and 2,000 spars for sailing ships. Victoria’s Colonist newspaper was often critical of Mainland competitors, but in 1868 it crowed that Burrard Inlet lumber was “already so highly esteemed at San Francisco as to bring $2.50 more per thousand feet than Puget Sound lumber.”4

Until the 1880s, most of the trees for the Strait’s timber exports came from Burrard Inlet, though the mills were already drawing from other places along the Mainland shore as early as the 1870s. The Moodyville mill leased timberland on the lower Squamish River in 1870. Others began logging in Howe Sound, where all nine settlers on the 1875 voters list were “lumbermen.” Indigenous communities at Sechelt, Sliammon and Cortes Island were all logging and assembling booms for towing to mills in the southern Strait by the mid-1870s. And by the time settlers arrived at Gibsons Landing in the mid-1880s, loggers had already cleared the trees. Small logging operations appeared on the steep shores of Jervis Inlet and Desolation Sound at the northern end of the Strait as well. By the early 1880s, Burrard Inlet and New Westminster sawmills were transforming timber from almost every shore of the Strait and shipping it around the Pacific.

Vancouver Island developed its own lumber industry, as mills opened at Che-mainus in 1862 and near Comox in 1877, and soon settlers clearing land for farming along the Vancouver Island shoreline were selling their timber to a number of local sawmills. By the mid-1880s, many small sawmills on the east coast of the Island were supplying local demand, while more logs were dispatched to mills farther down the shore. Logging had become a major part of Vancouver Island’s economy, and the historical record abounds with stories of early loggers who came ashore and made their fortunes.

Logging at Jericho near Vancouver; the area later became one of the city’s most popular shoreline parks. Image I-66029 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

In these early decades of lumbering on the Strait, the only practical way to move giant logs any distance was by water. The region lacked the broad, flat rivers that eased log extraction in eastern North America, so the Strait itself played this role. Yet even with copious amounts of dogfish oil applied to skid roads and a team of stout oxen (see photograph here), it was not easy to pull immense, rough-barked logs, so logging was usually restricted to the first few hundred metres in from the shore. Still, harvesting these trees with axes or large handsaws and then hauling the timber to the shoreline was extremely laborious and dangerous. At tidewater they were bucked into shorter logs and stored until there were enough to make a boom that could be towed to a sawmill.

When the Canadian Pacific Railway reached Burrard Inlet, the Strait’s already expanding forest industry grew even more rapidly. Between 1871 and 1911, the number of sawmills in the province increased almost tenfold, from 27 to 224; the workforce in forestry grew from fewer than 400 people to more than 15,000. Most of these jobs were around the inland sea, with the majority of them concentrated around Burrard Inlet, which had nine large mills operating by 1890. The Moodyville and Hastings mills alone were producing more than 40 million board feet a year, or a third of the province’s overall production.

Most forests around the inland sea had not been touched by industrial forestry in 1880, and some contemporary observers even bemoaned the fact that these very large trees were limiting the Strait’s agricultural potential. The province had assumed responsibility for forests when BC joined Confederation in 1871. In 1884 it introduced a new timber licensing system with looser regulations, while the forest industry moved to increase its harvest with investments in new technologies. Under the new system, the intent to farm was no longer a prerequisite for obtaining land.

In 1889, for example, the logger John Glover gave notice of intent to apply for licences on about 40 square kilometres of land “for timbering purposes” on Sechelt’s North West Bay, Thormanby Island, the shore of Malaspina Strait by the Sliammon Reserve, by Squirrel Cove Reserve and other parts of Cortes Island, and on Valdes (i.e., Quadra Island) near the Cape Mudge and Drew Harbour reserves. The locations of Glover’s claims suggest he may have aimed to use a lot of Indigenous labour. Perhaps such large tracts of timber had become available beside new reserves after uncertainties about reserve boundaries were resolved. In any case, this was just one of many signs that logging was gathering momentum. It has been said that “the majestic timber stands of Vancouver Island and the coast of the Mainland were…disposed of in large tracts on easy terms to all comers for over thirty years.”5

Timber licensing continued as harvesting technologies evolved. A dozen years later a Mr. Emerson leased around 35 square kilometres of timber on the waterfront of Nelson and Hardy Islands at the mouth of Jervis Inlet, on Howe Sound and elsewhere around the Strait. Emerson announced his intention to start logging immediately with more than a hundred men and four big donkey engines (steam-powered winches). The rapid dispossession of the Strait’s Indigenous people had been based on the premise that they were not “using the land”—not making it bear fruit the way European farmers could. Yet now the settlers were building much of their economy on logging, which was difficult to construe as “adding value” to land unless the land was going to be farmed or built upon after it was logged, which it seldom was. Instead, most forest land was essentially being mined—logged and abandoned—leaving behind mostly infertile, eroded land that would be worthless for decades to come.

Interest in West Coast forests grew as eastern North America’s timber supplies diminished. Between 1890 and 1910, American lumbermen carefully assessed virtually every accessible forest around the Strait and elsewhere in the province. Early in the 1900s, with distant investors buying up many timber licences, Victoria took greater notice of the value of its timber. A provincial Royal Commission on Timber and Forestry in 1907—by which time 3.6 million hectares of forest land had been leased—spoke warily of the “insatiable nature of the continental demand for standing timber.” By 1912, the province had established what historian Robert Cail would praise forty years later as “the best method yet devised”: timber sales by public auction with control of the land retained by the provincial government.

Eastern industrialists invested heavily. Sales soared from barely $2 million at the turn of the century to $150 million by 1913—well over half of this capital from American investors. Richard Rajala, in Clearcutting the Pacific Rain Forest, described this transformation in the forest sectors of coastal BC, Washington and Oregon as an “industrial revolution.” This revolution was largely financed by eastern capital and comprised, among other things, much larger-scale logging and milling with improved technologies, as well as greater integration of the regional industry into continental networks.

The government in Victoria promoted the development of exports, rebating royalties paid for lumber shipped outside BC. Exports to the rest of North America grew rapidly after the arrival of the railway, and new North American markets led to new opportunities. Cedar shingles, mostly from the shores of the Strait, became a key export to eastern markets: BC was supplying half of Canada’s shingles by 1908 and 80 percent by 1921. Exports outside North America became relatively less important than before the railway, but they remained significant. The Colonist reported in 1898 that mills around the southern Strait were still exporting to South Africa, Australia, East Asia and Europe.

Growing dependence on these eastern markets resulted in greater instability in the demand for wood products. As the continental economy rose and fell, so too did the eastern markets, which led to cyclical overproduction problems in the forestry industry. In the 1880s, almost all logging was being done close to shore, and oxen or horses hauled the logs over skid roads to points where they could be gathered into booms and then towed by sea to a sawmill. This logging was necessarily selective, taking only the most valuable trees, though many others were damaged in the process. By 1900, however, larger operations on the Strait had begun using steam-powered donkey engines to extract logs, though many smaller operators still logged with animals. The donkey engines greatly boosted productivity and allowed logging operations to move farther inland. The “revolution” in the forest then gathered steam as the larger companies built numerous railways to move timber from the hillsides down to the shore. These technologies helped ensure that BC’s forest industry remained concentrated on the Strait longer than it would have otherwise, as they made it easier to harvest higher-altitude stands when wood supplies along the shore were exhausted.

Periodically Victoria faced pressure from loggers who had cut more logs than they could sell to local mills and who then sought permission to export their surplus to American sawmills across the border. The province refused, sternly enforcing its prohibition on raw log exports and launching patrol boats on the Strait in search of miscreants. In fact, small sawmills proliferated around the Strait, though overall milling capacity became concentrated at a few sites on the southern Strait. The large mill at Chemainus was cutting half a million board feet a day by 1890. The owner, John Humbird, was a lumberman from the American Great Lakes region. Like other entrepreneurs moving into the rich forests of the Strait’s western shore, Humbird had made a deal with the Dunsmuirs. He bought 400 square kilometres of their forest land close to Chemainus and in the Comox Valley, agreeing to build a sawmill for the export market at Chemainus (see photographs here and here). American entrepreneurs John Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie also bought forest land from Dunsmuir, then eventually visited Chemainus to sell it to the Humbird mill. Around the turn of the century, with forests depleted in the Cowichan Valley, Chemainus became more dependent on Comox Valley timber. Humbird owned 200 square kilometres of forest there and began building railways to extract it. Small operations were already cutting timber along the seashore and up the riverbanks near Comox.

Logging expanded greatly when larger companies began to play a dominant role in the early 1900s, towing most of the harvest to southern mills. By World War I the Canadian Western Lumber Company was the largest in the province. It had assembled an impressive collection of forest resources, railways, tugboats and sawmills and controlled a vast expanse of high-quality, even-aged Douglas fir stands that stretched along the coastal plain between Comox and Campbell River. The company’s wood supplied its Fraser Mills plant in New Westminster, which had become the second-largest sawmill in the world. Increasingly, logging was becoming capital-intensive, with railways following the receding timber up the hillsides.

An early logging crew on the Tsolum River in the Comox Valley, standing in front of old-growth Douglas fir. Courtney & District Museum, Walter Gage photograph. Photo: 990.24.289.

As early as 1888, the Colonist reported that logging had ceased around Burrard Inlet for lack of suitable timber. All the large mills, it said, were bringing their timber from 80 to 200 kilometres away. Logging had spread quickly along the Mainland shore north of Burrard Inlet starting in the 1880s. Unlike on Vancouver Island, where settler farmers turned to lumbering to increase their income, on the steep Mainland coast and northern islands many loggers were the first to settle, albeit briefly. Loggers in those years often lived transient, uncomfortable lives as they moved wherever the extremely dangerous work of felling and pulling massive trees off steep slopes took them. Others were able to combine logging with a relatively sedentary lifestyle. The reality was that many settlers around the Strait came to depend on logging for their well-being, often turning away from farming to find more lucrative work in logging or at sawmills.

In the final years before World War I, pulp and paper mills began to appear on the Strait. Leases for cutting hemlock trees—judged unsuitable for lumber—had first been granted as far back as 1891. In 1900 the province announced plans to encourage pulp manufacturing. The following year, twenty-one year-long leases finally became available for cutting pulp wood, at five cents per hectare and fifteen cents per cord. Four of these leases were let, covering a total of 140,000 hectares. Dr. G.M. Dawson’s earlier geological survey of the Strait had noted the presence of several large lakes in the Powell River area, with a short river spilling from one of the lakes into the nearby sea. The place was ideal for a pulp and paper mill—copious water, enough head to generate electricity and hundreds of square kilometres of forest available near the shore. For a decade after the introduction of pulp wood leases, the Powell River area had remained like other parts of the coast—a place where hunters, fishermen, loggers, tourists and “stump ranchers” coexisted—but this changed suddenly with the construction of an “instant town.”

Chemainus Sawmill in 1895; John Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie eventually sold their Vancouver Island timberland to the Chemainus sawmillers. Image E-02574 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Employees’ houses, roads, a power plant, wharves and four papermaking machines replaced the Indigenous village on the river now named for the Sliammon people’s nemesis, Israel Powell (chapter 2), all in less than two years. Taking advantage of numerous stands of hemlock on the Strait’s wetter slopes that made excellent paper, the Powell River Company shipped its first 17,000 tons of newsprint by the end of 1912. By 1913, more than a thousand loggers were working in the woods around the town. The mill worked day and night, seven days a week, giving this stretch of shore a different feel from the rest. Many neighbours welcomed this industrial complex, as it was a good market for local farmers’ produce and loggers’ timber and offered urban amenities much closer than Vancouver. The pungent odour of sulphite pulp making was only really noticeable when one was downwind, and few settlers paid much attention to the mill’s copious liquid waste. Smaller sulphite mills built in the same period had similar mixed effects on their neighbours in Howe Sound.

The Strait’s early forest industry generated a great deal of waste. Especially before donkey engines began to facilitate log extraction, many millions of board feet of good timber were left in the woods and burned by the loggers in vast pyres that easily spread out of control. Diaries and newspapers at the end of the nineteenth century are full of reports of fires raging and smoke cloaking the Strait throughout the summer. Destructive and wasteful logging practices began to attract criticism. Woodsmen of the West, a novel of the period by Martin Grainger, described logging around the sea variously as “mining” and “butchery.” Grainger went on to act as secretary for the province’s first Royal Commission of Inquiry into Timber and Forestry, and its report gave rise to a provincial Forest Act in 1912 and a Forestry Service that was created to enforce it. The act mostly focused on fire control and on improving methods of log scaling (estimating the volume of lumber in harvested logs) but did little to address the industry’s assault on the forests that had so upset Grainger. Damage to spawning streams used for skidding logs or buried under slash, and erosion of deforested soils by torrential winter rains, continued unabated.

The Strait’s forest industry expanded most rapidly in the first decade of the twentieth century. Revenues from the forests and mills bolstered Victoria’s finances, while saw-mills or logging became the economic backbone of many settler communities, including Vancouver. The province’s new Chief Forester, H.R. MacMillan, confirmed in 1914 that the industry was now the province’s key sector. He declared the future bright because half the province was still covered in high-value first-growth forest, and less than 10 percent of it had been logged. Most of this logged land, however, was around the Strait and a few people, like Grainger, were beginning to suggest that the perception of the forest as an inexhaustible resource that could be harvested at will was an illusion. Yet the forests remained a lucrative place to work, for both settlers and Indigenous people. Calls for more careful stewardship were drowned out by the urgent demands of total war after 1914, as they would be again during World War II.

Forestry in the interwar years

Forests remained the Strait’s most valuable resource after World War I as the business of liquidating old-growth forests around the inland sea developed its own culture. Early movie footage, such as that shot by Francis John Barrow during his many summer cruises on the Strait, captured the drama of logging on its shores. The sea was alive with log booms being towed to mills and ships loading lumber and paper. The opening of the Panama Canal meant that ships from the west coast could now cross from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean without having to circumnavigate South America. This route significantly reduced shipping times and costs and made coastal lumber more competitive in eastern US markets.

Many of the Strait’s communities depended heavily on the forest for their survival, but nowhere more than Powell River. By that time it had become one of the Strait’s major centres of railway logging, with more than twenty locomotives pulling 300 cars over 160 kilometres of track. The town’s population grew from around 2,000 in 1921 to 8,000 in 1941, though local timber supplies were approaching exhaustion by the 1940s. Across the Strait, the Comox Valley was almost as dependent on forestry in the interwar years. According to Richard Mackie’s Island Timber, the valley was still “the Garden of Eden for loggers…almost solid fir, flat terrain, dense stands, five foot fir on the stump,” while the main actor in the local industry, Canadian Western, was “hell bent on harvesting the low lying accessible old growth.” Its subsidiary Comox Logging and Railway did the logging, and its towboat company moved the logs across the Strait to be milled at its giant plant in New Westminster.

Such rapid harvesting stimulated growing concerns about forest depletion. Before World War I, the Royal Commission on Forestry had focused mostly on the forests around the inland sea, where the industry was concentrated. The commission had recommended the province look upon its timber royalties not just as revenues but also as capital being depleted from the forests. The commissioners suggested public money earned from forestry should not pass into general revenues until enough funds were reinvested to ensure future forest productivity. They called for firm government control over harvesting methods. Looking back thirty years later, Haig-Brown reported: “These findings have been utterly disregarded.”6 Despite a Forest Act being passed in 1912, forest management remained a low priority for subsequent provincial governments.

The province’s first tree nurseries were developed in the 1920s and some re-forestation started in the 1930s. Yet Haig-Brown painted an alarming picture of the state of the forests in the early 1940s. “In the depression years the average man in British Columbia had time to think about his province,” said Haig-Brown, and he had “good cause to think hard and searchingly” about his future. Looking at this future, he declared, “There was nothing to give him satisfaction. He saw a giant industry, using most powerful methods that were obviously wasteful not only of present but of future timber stocks” and “thousands upon thousands of acres…that had borne heavy timber [and were] now unproductive.” Even in “the tremendous Douglas fir and cedar and hemlock stands of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, there was no sure future.”7

Haig-Brown reported that the public had begun to express widespread concern about degraded forests by the 1930s “through boards of trade, in the press, at community meetings…[and] social organizations.” The province ignored these signs until the late 1930s, when its Department of Lands published an account of its forest resources. The report, wrote Haig-Brown, presented a “terrifyingly full confirmation of the worst nightmares of public opinion.” He chastised the government for its dis-appointing response to this report. But the province’s Chief Forester, E.C. Manning, was mobilised by it. Manning, wrote Haig-Brown, was “that very rare individual, an inspired civil servant…[He] saw that an industry so vast, wreaking such tremen-dous physical changes on the face of the land, must inevitably affect adversely other industries such as fishing, agriculture, the tourist trade and anything that depended upon a natural resource, whether that resource was soil, water, fish, game, fur or scenery.”8

Manning perceived that there was little or no government control over logging. He estimated that something like 60 percent of the forests logged by the late 1930s would remain barren or understocked far into the future. Virtually all forests were being cut far beyond anything like their sustained yield capacity. Douglas fir stands around the inland sea were by far the province’s most valuable resources (see photograph here), and they were going to be seriously depleted by the 1950s. Despite initial opposition from the forest industry, Manning succeeded in introducing a number of forest management improvements, particularly in the Douglas fir stands on the Vancouver Island shore of the Strait. He aimed to improve fire protection and logging methods, and enhance forest regeneration after logging. The industry soon came around to supporting this approach. Haig-Brown described it as “inadequate even in the [limited] areas to which it [was] applied…but still the greatest step towards forest conservation in the history of the province.”9

Logging operations at the Bluebird Mill in Qualicum, 1918: Part of the transition to more capital-intensive harvesting. Old-growth Douglas fir logs like these were the province’s best timber. Image B-07567 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

When World War II broke out, forest harvesting increased. The cut levels, which were already judged to be far in excess of regeneration rates, increased significantly in the early 1940s to support the war effort. For Haig-Brown, despite a modicum of new regulation, logging methods remained “haphazard and extravagant and ill conceived.”10 E.C. Manning was killed in a plane crash in 1941. Two years later, another Royal Commission on Forestry—known as the Sloan Commission—was appointed to address growing fears of timber shortages and the large forestry companies’ demands for improved security of tenure. The Sloan Commission recommended “sustained yield” forest management, wherein an “annual allowable cut” of timber would be established based on the estimated growth rate of the forest. Unlike many such commissions, the Sloan Commission was highly influential, though its recommendations failed to result in a “sustained yield.”

Part of the problem was that forest-harvesting technologies had advanced much faster than forest management practices. Logging railways and the use of overhead logging, which involved suspending cables to move heavy logs over difficult terrain, had produced vast clear-cuts in valley bottoms. Immense expanses were denuded and left without nearby sources of seed. The result was extensive areas, particularly in the Strait’s rich Douglas fir forests, where natural forest regeneration was failing by the 1920s. Bulldozers and logging trucks then moved logging farther up hillsides onto steeper, previously inaccessible slopes, which increased the damage to streams in unstable upper watersheds. Improved tree-harvesting technologies also left behind a lot more “waste wood” in the forest. Pulp and paper mills on the Mainland shore used some of this waste, but no mills were built on the Vancouver Island side of the Strait until after World War II.

The waste that most worried contemporary observers was the wood fuelling the fires that raged through the summers around the sea. Some fires—on the Malaspina Peninsula in 1918 and in the Comox Valley in 1922 and 1938—were huge and became the stuff of local legend. But smaller blazes, often set by loggers and fuelled by their waste, burned out of control every year. People complained about the smoke, summer after summer. A terrifying blaze raged out of control for weeks between Campbell River and Courtenay in 1938, threatening both towns. It burned over 300 square kilometres of forest and destroyed millions of board feet of timber, and more than 2,000 firefighters struggled to keep it under control. On his summer cruise through the Strait that year, Francis John Barrow complained that the smoke was ruining his photography. Ash from the inferno spread as far as Victoria, “fog” all the way to Portland. Haig-Brown, more inclined than the forest industry to worry about other stakeholders, called for the prompt reforestation of the worst-affected areas, claiming that “taxes on tourist revenues of the future would far more than cover the costs of replanting.”11

To many, pulp and paper production was the ideal solution to the forest industry’s profligate waste. Canada had become the world’s largest newsprint producer by 1939, and by late in World War II, Canada was producing half of the world’s newsprint. Powell River had become the world’s largest pulp and paper mill, loading 200,000 tons of product every year onto the freighters arriving at its wharf at a rate of one every two days. Powell River’s wood supplies by then came from far beyond the Strait.

A public perception of the need to move towards more effective control of the forest industry and sounder stewardship of the Strait’s forest resources had begun to emerge in the 1930s. But this idea was subsumed, as it had been a generation earlier, by the urgent demands of a world at war.

Forestry boom and bust after 1945

The economies of many places on the Strait continued to rely heavily on logging even after 1945. Forests such as those on Lasqueti Island that hadn’t seen much logging earlier due to their lower-quality timber were logged more intensively as their wood became more marketable.12 Previously inaccessible stands could be more easily exploited by truck loggers, and rugged Texada Island, for example, supported almost thirty truck-logging operations in the late 1940s. Though only half of the operations remained by the mid-1950s, they were still shipping 15 million board feet a year off the island. Writing around the same time, Frederick Marsh noted the central role of logging on some southern islands in the late 1940s, where newly arrived loggers occupied cabins built earlier by farmers, and descendants of settlers fell back on logging as their other sources of income dried up. Other island loggers, tired of being condemned by their neighbours for “ruining the beautiful islands,”13 began planning subdivisions instead (chapter 6).

On the Mainland and Vancouver Island, large integrated firms increasingly began to dominate the forest industry. They expanded their control of wood supplies and invested heavily in new pulp and paper technology that could utilise everything from sawdust to trees. BC’s largest mills remained concentrated around the inland sea into the 1960s (see Figure 8), even as local wood supplies continued to shrink. Raw wood and fibre could easily be shipped to these mills from coastal forests farther north, and their lumber, pulp and paper products easily shipped out. In the 1950s, the Powell River mill was taken over by forestry giant MacMillan Bloedel and remained the Strait’s largest industrial complex. By then, its ten papermaking machines were producing over 250,000 tons of newsprint a year and the mill employed close to 2,000 workers. The town’s population rose from around 8,000 in the late 1940s to a peak of 20,000 in 1980.

Pulp and paper plants transformed the economies and atmospheric conditions of the Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo and Campbell River as well. Haig-Brown, offended by the pollution from the new Campbell River pulp mill, wondered how much its emissions were affecting the health of local citizens and forests. Again these new mills had been located at sites where they could take in vast quantities of fresh water and then dispose of similar volumes of liquid waste into the sea. Producing a single ton of pulp required up to 250,000 litres of fresh water, mostly for debarking logs or cooling machines. And a mill producing 500 tons of pulp a day might consume over 90 million litres of fresh water in the process. Not surprisingly, the big mills were responsible for a considerable amount of local marine pollution (chapter 5).

The growing importance of these large mills was part of a broader trend towards corporate concentration in the Strait’s forest industry. By the 1950s, smaller logging and milling operations were being pushed out of the industry by larger, integrated firms that could better build and operate large mills and manage the large tree farm licences (TFLs) being offered by the province. With Victoria relying on revenue from the profits of these large firms, the government often equated the interests of their leading companies with the public interest. This helps explain Victoria’s timid response to growing evidence of forests being depleted, mills polluting marine environments and loggers damaging salmon streams.

Technological change paralleled structural transitions in the industry. Roads and trucks replaced logging railways, and the old logging locomotives—newly painted—began to grace seaside parks from Vancouver to Courtenay. Large plants that could transform wood into plywood and various types of pulp and paper took over from simpler but less economically viable sawmills. Waste wood and sawdust, which had previously been burned on site or sold as domestic fuel, were turned into fibre for making paper. And gone were the days of sleeping in crowded bunkhouses; by the 1950s, many loggers got a place in town and drove their highly mobile equipment from one logging site to the next.

Improved methods for artificially regenerating tree seedlings allowed the industry to go on neglecting the need for improved logging practices. Like the fishery, the forest industry valued efficient production but often ignored scientific misgivings about the real, longer-term inefficiencies and hidden costs associated with these approaches. Just as the fishery couldn’t resist the allure of farmed fish as a panacea, the forest industry embraced planted forests and maintained that logged areas could be easily replanted. In both cases, the seemingly infinite capacity to artificially regenerate these valuable resources helped dismiss fears of losing them through systematic overharvesting. In the woods, this new vision meant transforming “static and wasting wilderness (i.e., old-growth forests)” into “ordered ranks of flourishing young trees…a succession of cultivated forest crops more abundant and gainful than Nature could ever produce.”14 This fig leaf effectively allowed logging to be profligate and destructive around the Strait throughout these decades.

Figure 8. The pulp and paper mills on the Strait in 1960, which used waste wood and produced large quantities of liquid waste.

Technologies used on the Strait from the 1940s to the 1980s did little to mitigate the forest industry’s impacts on other stakeholders or halt the decline of forest resources. Worries about forest depletion in the 1930s had been eclipsed by the war effort of the early 1940s. After 1945 these concerns were largely swept aside again, this time by the enthusiastic post-war boom. Haig-Brown reported in the 1960s that the “best of the sawmill timber” had been “stripped away” from the Strait, leaving the industry to earn revenues from plywood and fibre produced from second-rate timber. With the province’s annual timber cut up to over 27 million cubic metres and having already “borne the burden of heavy cutting for over half a century,” the more accessible forests around the inland sea were under “excessive strain.” The sea’s Douglas fir stands, which had been the great wealth of the industry, were “a thing of the past,” though impressive stands of cedar, hemlock and true firs remained on some Mainland shores and, especially, beyond the northern limits of the Strait.15 The deforestation was particularly thorough on the Vancouver Island shore, partly due to the railway lands that had been owned outright by forest companies and were therefore less constrained by Victoria’s regulations. By the 1970s, these lands were the site of some of the world’s largest clear-cuts.

The depletion of the Strait’s forests continued more or less unabated through these years, with the harvesting rates diminished not by conservation but by occasional market downturns. Even a short-lived social democratic government in the 1970s did little to change the industry. Then, despite more rhetoric about sustained yields, the province’s overall annual forest harvest increased from 150,000 hectares in the late 1970s to 225,000 a decade later. However, forests around the Strait contributed a steadily declining portion of this “cut” as the industry shifted to poorer stands in the interior of the province.

In her book Green Gold, Patricia Marchak alluded to the similarities between BC’s forestry industry and a mining operation. As with resource exploitation in South America at the time, BC was consuming its renewable resources as fast as possible. The phenomenon, called imediatismo in Brazil (in contrast to senso comum, or common sense), described a tendency to seek immediate satisfaction without any thought for the future. In that country, runaway inflation spurred the resource rush, the idea being to spend whatever wealth you have today because it will be worth less tomorrow and virtually nothing next week. Latin American–style runaway inflation was not a problem on the Strait, yet the same pervasive lack of faith in the future existed. Some may have feared that the forest wealth so suddenly “inherited” by settlers might be lost just as quickly. Whatever the reason, Victoria’s resource economists justified the exhaustion of resources by suggesting that the capital embodied in the forest could be converted into different kinds of capital to build the future post-resource economy. The reality for many forestry-dependent communities around the Strait was vastly different: well-paid jobs disappeared in the final decades of the twentieth century, only to be replaced by lower-paying service-sector jobs or unemployment.

UBC geographers Roger Hayter and Trevor Barnes characterised the Strait’s post-war “mill towns”—places such as Crofton, Chemainus, Nanaimo, Powell River and Campbell River—as communities that had grown complacent due to a “Fordist wage bargain” struck between well-paid unionised workers and the forest industry. In other words, many communities had grown accustomed to the affluence assured by a rich supply of timber and fibre from coastal forests. But as this wood supply faltered in the 1970s and the deep economic downturn of the early 1980s hit the coastal forest industry particularly hard, the mills began to close and the belief in an inexhaustible resource came crashing down.

The government’s policy of “sustained-yield forestry”—forest production that could be maintained indefinitely at some “sustainable” level—hadn’t helped because harvesting had never in fact declined to sustainable levels. Victoria’s decision to implement a forest tenure system—and cede control over public forests to long-term private-sector licence holders who could raise the capital needed to carry out “sustained-yield logging”—had not produced the desired effect. The province’s head forester, C.D. Orchard, had earlier envisioned a merger of public and private interests, but others have suggested this idea was always fanciful and that “sustained yield” was mostly a rhetorical flourish to cover up profitable and unsustainable harvesting practices. Besides, critics have maintained, the province never had the staff it needed to properly control the pace or quality of logging.

Like many well-meaning conservation policies, sustained-yield forestry worked in theory but it seldom lived up to its aspirations in practice. There was confusion from the outset about how to implement it, how to calculate the volumes of mature timber used to set the “annual allowable cut,” or how to accommodate the highly variable economic values of different forests. The complacency that prevailed in the post-war decades allowed provincial officials much latitude in their interpretation of this policy when faced with political pressure to maximise forest harvests. For example, the collaboration between Robert Sommers, the forest minister in BC’s first Social Credit government, and the forest industry revealed the remarkably “flexible” way that sustained-yield forestry was applied in the 1950s. Sommers’s party had come to power promising to eliminate the corruption of the province’s 1940s coalition governments. Yet Sommers would be the first elected cabinet minister in the British Empire to go to prison when he was convicted of accepting bribes in exchange for generous forest licences.

After Haig-Brown’s death in 1976, non-governmental critics of the province’s forestry policy focused increasingly on the need to preserve “wilderness.” Now an essentially urban movement, the new generation of forest preservationists was animated by the desire to protect nature, rather than to ensure the long-term future of the forest industry. By wilderness they meant old-growth forest, and this idea put them on a collision course with Victoria’s strategy for progressively harvesting all remaining old-growth stands under the guise of sustained-yield forestry. Since very few old-growth stands were left around the Strait by the 1980s, when Victoria and the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) became locked in their “war in the woods,” this struggle unfolded mostly around isolated old-growth forests beyond the inland sea, particularly on the west side of Vancouver Island.

Debate over how to manage second-growth forests on the Strait had a lower public profile but was still highly contentious. A key issue was that forestry companies owned large blocks of island forest that could turn huge profits if they were rezoned into residential lots for building cottages and retirement homes. Weldwood owned much of Gabriola and Denman Islands and MacMillan Bloedel much of Galiano, where 70 percent of the land was under forest company control. These large holdings help explain why the Islands Trust, which was created in 1974 to preserve the “unique character” of the islands in the Strait, cautiously embraced forestry (chapter 6) and made it as difficult as possible for forest companies to convert their forest lands into subdivisions that might threaten this character.

While they contemplated cashing in on a recreational land boom on the southern Strait, the forest companies also clashed with recreational activities farther north. Rather than a “war in the woods,” it was a low-intensity “war on the water” that focused mostly on log booms (see photograph here). In the mid-1960s, one such battle was fought in Quadra Island’s Gowlland Harbour, the only harbour in Discovery Passage that was secure for boats in any wind. Local residents complained bitterly that the nearby pulp mill was taking more and more of their waterfront for log storage. A letter from a local citizen to the province’s superintendent of lands summarised their concerns: “[Booms are] gradually making an incursion not only at the expense of the residents, but…operators of yachts and fishing vessels who use the Gowlland Harbour anchorage.” The letter continued, “225 children receive swimming, boating and water skiing instruction in this area every summer…any further concessions for log storage…will destroy this recreational value.” Finally, claimed the writer, “The roar of the high speed engines in the small tugs day and night, the destruction of the boat anchorage and booms of logs moored to the shore and in the channel will definitely reduce the value of waterfront property in the area.”16

The Canadian White Pine Company sawmill in New Westminster in 1947: The vast complex of sawmills around New West depended on logs towed in from around the Strait and beyond. Image I-28018 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

The mill’s response reflected the self-assurance of the forest industry in those years. The population of Campbell River had increased from 2,500 to 7,500 since the mill opened, noted the mill’s spokesperson. Close to 1,100 people, or about half the town’s working population, were employed at the mill. Log storage areas needed to be close to the mill, protected from wind and tide, and the mill needed more log storage space. So, inevitably, the mill needed to use more of Gowlland Harbour. The superintendent of lands denied the company most of the new area it sought around Gowlland Bay but allowed it to keep the substantial area it was already using for booming. The province had begun to pay closer attention to these conflicts in the 1970s because it was interested in the possibility of establishing its own small marine parks on the same protected stretches of coastline. The fact that both parties needed these marine spaces primarily in the summer months only intensified the conflict. While still strongly supportive of the forest industry, the province had also come to recognise the critical importance of the Strait’s “recreational values” (chapter 6).

From centre stage to senescence

By the 1980s, the forest industry was in steep decline: the warnings of conservationists had been ignored for decades and their long-abiding fear—of squandering one of the world’s richest forest resources—had been realised. Signs of the industry’s looming senescence had become evident ten years earlier when it began to be portrayed as a sort of aging cultural icon. In the 1970s, a new literary journal, The Raincoast Chronicles (published in Madeira Park on the Sunshine Coast), began documenting the rich social history of a century of settler logging (and other activities) on the Strait and beyond. In nearby Gibsons Landing, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) launched a television series in 1972 about log salvagers on Howe Sound. The Beachcombers played for twenty years to a global audience.

Vancouver had become rich on the profits of the Strait’s forest industry. Yet the city aimed to make it clear through events such as Expo 86, with its focus on transportation and communications technologies, that it was transcending its early dependence on primary resources and becoming a “world-class city.” The Strait had played a critical role in developing the forest industry, but increasingly the growing urban populations on its shores were valuing it more for its recreational assets than as a highway for logs or a waste dump for pulp mills. The industry would continue to operate around the inland sea, and it increased its efforts to replant forest land, but it was no longer the dominant force it had once been. Like mining and fishing, it was unmistakably in decline.


1. Roderick Haig-Brown, undated (but circa early 1960s), unpublished 44-page typed manuscript (draft chapter?) entitled The Pacific Northwest—Doubleday, 26, RHB papers, BN 58-1, University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyial Collections.

2. Letter dated 28 May 1849 from James Douglas, Chief Factor, HBC at Fort Nisqually, Puget Sound, to J. Shepherd, GR-0328 Great Britain. Colonial Office Correspondence, 92–93: British Columbia Archives.

3. Great Britain Emigration Commission. Vancouver’s Island: Survey of the Districts of Nanaimo and Cowichan Valley. Reports by B.W. Pearse and Oliver Wells to accompany their surveys made under J.D. Pemberton, Colonial Surveyor. London: H M Stationary Office, 1859, 7.

4. “To Advertisers. To Agents.” British Colonist, 27 Nov 1868, 2.

5. Cail, Land, Man, Law, 246–47.

6. “The last quarter century,” handwritten, undated (1942 or 1943), unpaginated 11-page manuscript, RHB papers, BN 55-8, University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyial Collections.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Elda Copley Mason, Lasqueti Island: History and Memory (Lantzville, BC: Byron Mason, 1991), 192.

13. “Leisure Island Laughter,” 440, 457, 462, MS-1176 - Frederick Marsh fonds, British Columbia Archives.

14. Extracted from the text of a 1967 MacMillan Bloedel brochure, cited in Richard Rajala, Clearcutting the Pacific Rain Forest: Production, Science and Regulation (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1998), 221.

15. “The Pacific Northwest,” 44, RHB papers, BN 58-1, University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyial Collections.

16. Letter to Superintendent of Lands, from a citizen in Heriot Bay, 8 August 1966, GR 1614 Parks and Outdoor Recreation Division, BOX 25, File, British Columbia Archives.