Wally Knott on saw and his partner Red Meyers at Meades Creek Oct. 1945 by W.H.Gold PhotoMOFM Logo
 
 
 
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Jim Eddy
Jim EddyI have worked in the woods for the past forty-eight years.  I worked as a faller for twenty-eight of those years. I started as a whistle punk at Canfor Chahalis in 1961; there was a big reserve there with lots of natives working for them. They were running yarders and loaders, as well as head loading, second rigging, and hooking – they were all qualified loggers.

My father worked there for many years as a faller, and I started right out of high school working on the rigging.  There were three wooden trees and five steel spars there at that time.  I worked on the bull gang rigging wooden trees.  I used the back choker when I started… that was mine, and I pulled rigging too.  I was in charge of the rigging– those men were my responsibility.

We raised the trees using a flying gin pole.  First off, we had to notch the guyline stumps:  eight top guys, four buckle guys, and one for the nose-guy makes thirteen.  Each stump needed seventeen railroad spikes for nailing the guyline to it.  The nose-guy held up the loading boom - in this case it was a Johnson Boom.  Once the tree was up and the three raising guys were spiked, the real work began!  The remaining guylines were hung, strung out, tightened (with a rig-up goat) and spiked.  The jewelry was then hung on the tree; these included the haul back, bull block, and the three loading jacks .  After the yarder and loader were in position, the blocks were threaded, the loading boom raised and spiked, and the side was ready to log.  The rig-up goat was a four drum (main line, haul back, strawline, and passline) 10-10 Lawrence yarder mounted on a truck.

Jim Eddy FallingWhen I started on the rigging, the hooktender was the side boss.  There were two operators:  the donkey puncher and the lever man running the loading pot.  There were two second loader chasers and a head loader in the landing.  Out in the bush was the hooker, rigging slinger, two chokermen and a whistle punk.  The rigging slinger was responsible for picking the turns and the safety of his crew; the whole show was overseen by the hooker.

I can’t remember too many bad times on the rigging; other than the weather could be trying at times, to say the least.  We took care of each other and, for the most part, got along.  If someone wasn’t pulling their weight, for sure they were told about it, and they shaped up or left.  In the two years I was at Chahalis, there were two fatalities:  a chokerman, Phil, was crushed between two large fir logs; and a faller, Gus, was struck by a tree and killed instantly.  In those days, there were thirty to fifty fatalities per year in the woods of BC  – up to fifty percent of these were usually fallers!

A Decent LoadWhen I was rigging, we had long days:  we were up at 5:00 a.m., and had to drive for about twenty minutes.  At Chahalis, we had old Chev panel trucks with no windows in them, and board seats – they used to put fourteen of us in those things!  Then, we got on one of their crummies, and went up to a camp in the bush, and then marshalled out of there.  Then, we would go out and do our job, come back and just reverse that procedure.  I think we were gone for about twelve hours in those days, and were only paid for eight hours – there was no travel time!

It was great because in those days we were loggers… none of this BS… none of this dope in camp! You might have the odd ‘hung-over’ guy Monday morning – but that’s the price of doing business anytime.  No, it was a great experience, I thought.  Well, I was young, hard-working, and being ‘soaked to the ass’ twenty-four hours a day seemed to be the way it should be!  

A Fine UndercutI’ll never forget the first hooktender I had, because he had a hare-lip.  In those days they didn’t do that operation like they do now…  but to try and understand him – he’d be standing on the stump yelling at us, and we couldn’t understand a word he was saying!  The hooktender and the yarding engineers – they were all good.  I remember one time when I was the only white guy on the side:  the yarding engineer was Chinese and the rest were all natives.  There were about eight or nine of us on that side, and I was the ‘token’ white man … I was eighteen years old!

My brother, Frank, was falling up at Harrison Lake (Pretty’s camp at Bear Creek), when we decided I should break in falling.  In those days, there was no training program – if you could afford a saw, you could BS your way into it.  That’s what we did and I’m still alive!

Frank got us a job with Cattermole-Trethewey at Southgate Camp at the head of Bute Inlet.  Anyone who has been to Bute, can relate to the fact that the timber was big, and the ground almost as steep as the back of God’s head!  What a place to break in – a saw with a thirty-three inch bar and a Jim Ready to Goseven foot fir to buck!  We were on contract; paid by the thousand board foot (MFBM) scale.  I struggled through it with a great deal of help, and a few cuss words from Frank.  We worked hard; not always smartly I’m sure, but we came out of it as West Coast fallers.  Between us, we didn’t weigh three hundred pounds:  I was one hundred and forty-three, and Frank was one hundred and forty-one!

When I started falling, it was basically the same routine… just a different job.  After the faller's strike in 1972, the day was reduced to a six and a half hour  – no one could fall timber for eight hours a day… I don’t give a shit who you are!  You’d be dead – you just couldn’t physically do it.  In those days it was contract, you got paid for what you did before 1972.  You go out and fell and bucked the trees with a chainsaw.  The saws right now are about forty to sixty percent lighter and easier to handle.  We used to use Homelites, McCullochs, Pioneers, those old IEL’s, whatever the hell was around.  The old Stihls used to weigh about thirty to thirty-five pounds, I guess.  If you had a long bar on them, we’d run a sixty inch bar on them for big trees – they were darn heavy!  The ones nowadays are a pleasure to run. 

After running up and down the coast, and a winter stint at McKenzie; I started a falling job at Camp 3 (Nitnat) for Crown Zellerbach.  This was a great place to work - it was a very militant camp.  There weren’t very many ten day pays for the fallers, as we always seemed to find a reason to ‘wild cat’ and go home for the day.  Although I worked with many native guys on the rigging, Camp 3 had four native fallersPete & Earl Williams, and Raphael & Lambert Johnnie from Duncan – good guys and good fallers.  I was camp chairman there for a year or two, and had some pretty good go-rounds with management over many different things.  Unfortunately, a second loader was killed while I was working at Camp 3

There was a superintendent at Camp 3 who was a big man, and had a lazy eye.  The more agitated he became, the quicker this eye moved.  One morning, I went up to discuss some pressing issue with him; our voices were Nice Tabletopraised a bit I believe, and his eye was really motoring!  He demanded that I “look him in the eye” when we were talking; but I know I couldn’t without laughing!  I then told him I would like to, but I didn’t really know where exactly his eye was going to be next.  He turned beet red and I thought he was going to hit me!  Seconds later, he burst out laughing, and shortly afterwards finished our talk.  He was a good man and fair – a hard day’s work for a good day’s pay!  I first met Walter Erickson here and we became close friends and partners over the years. 

I left Camp 3 after the four and a half month long faller's strike.  This was a wildcat walkout of 80% of the fallers on the coast – approximately seven hundred of us.  The dispute was over falling formulas for specific work sites, and pay rates for these.  We were eventually starved out and returned to work on a day rate – we had lost the battle but not the war!  This was a large mistake made by the FIR and the forest companies. After the introduction of day rate, production seemed to falter and many more fallers were needed on the coast.

I started work for BCFP Port Renfrew on August 21, 1972.  I was set with twenty fallers, and within two years there were over thirty fallers in camp!  In February 1974, I was injured while falling a large, rotten fir snag:  my hip, sternum, and some ribs were broken… I was off work for one year with this!

There were two fallers killed at RenfrewLem Traer by a pistol-butt hemlock, and Don Baker by a balsam snag. One time, my friend Bill Marsh was hooking, and I was pulling rigging– we had a kid from New Brunswick setting Jim Buckingchokers for us.  Bill was at the backend and "blew the rigging back" to set a "quitting time turn" (we were using radio whistles at that time).  Bill "set the turn" and, while walking out, blew the "go-ahead".  The turn up-ended and swung around and over him!  I was a split-second from stopping the turn when I saw what was happening.  If I did, the turn probably would have dropped on him!  When he got up the hill, I told him what happened and he said “Bullshit!” It wasn’t BS and he was a very lucky man!  I broke him in falling a couple of years later. 

Walter Erickson and I were partners for seven or eight years – he was a great man and a wonderful partner.  He was very keen on keeping the company’s nose to the grindstone when it came to labour issues and safety.  I called him “pa” and he called me “boy” – we worked together for about seven or eight years. 

I remember a funny instance when we were working at Renfrew up at the WFI  Hookup, and we came across a bear den in January or February.  It wasn’t a very big den, but there were bears in it.  Well, the old girl went out one day, so we poked a stick in it and heard some hissing… so we knew there were cubs.  We were working the face, and we couldn’t fall that tree with the bears in it.  So, one Monday morning Pa says, “Well, we gotta go see that bear den and see if the bears left yet.”  The weather was nice, but I said, “I don’t think so, they are pretty good barometers and they don’t leave until spring is here.”  I remember there were some windfalls in front of the tree, and Walt walked up the windfall; he had a packsack on his back, and he wore glasses.  Well, he was looking at the hole, just a triangle in the butt of the tree, and it wasn’t a very big tree.  I was on the other side picking up rocks, and throwing them at the tree.  He asks, “What are you doing?”, and I said, “Oh, nothing.”  Well, I missed the tree and hit the windfall – it went right in the hole, and that bear came out of there like "Mach 3"!  Walt his eyeballs were bigger than his glasses, and he was going over backwards off the windfall.  The bear was frightened and just ran away.  But, I sure got a talking to about that performance… holy smokes!  I’ll never forget – I could count the caulks on his boots… I was laughing so hard!

There are all kinds of funny stuff that happens out there!  I used to coach a men’s hockey team out here at the lake, and I remember one time when my falling partner got his wrist broken one night while playing hockey.  So, he figured out that he would go to work the next day, fall down and make it look like he broke his wrist at work.  So anyways, we were in the crummy and who should show up but the bull bucker!  We hadn’t seen him for, I don’t know how many days, but he showed up and had a cup of tea with us.  Well, it had just snowed a bit, so I was Logger Sportsgoing to gallop up the hill, fell a few trees in my quarter and a few in his, knock the snow away and come down.  So, anyways, I’m watching my partner tie up his boots with a broken wrist, and there is a bead of sweat forming on his forehead; but he’s just pulling on his boots trying to tighten his laces.  But, he got away with it and it worked; but, the bad mouthing he did to that bull bucker after he left was pretty funny! I’ll never forget those little beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead! 

Another time, I was living on the mainland and we decided to charter out of Vancouver harbour. Well, we got out there and it’s rough in the harbour and we are bouncing around that bloody harbour and this plane won’t jump up – I really hate that part.  The guy finally says, “We’re overloaded”, so back to the wharf we go.  We had a bunch of saws and stuff in there and some beer.  So the guy says, “Throw the beer out, it’ll come on the next plane”; we were like, “Yeah, likely story”.  So, we threw the saws out, and at those times they were worth like $300 bucks a piece.  The guy on the float kind of looked at us, and we said “Don’t lose those, you’re responsible for those saws”, and he was like, “oh yeah”, but we never expected to see them again.  Anyway, we got out there and we were still bouncing around; I looked out the window at the wing and said, “Aren’t the back part of the wings supposed to be down a little bit?”  He goes, “Oh God”, and starts putting the flaps down.  So, finally we jumped it up in the air, and took off – we were going around Horseshoe Bay.  Well, he had this map on his knee, you know with those knee holder things they have, and I’m getting a little suspicious then.  He’s looking around and says, “Oh, that’s Harmac over there I guess” – he’s flying by bloody pulp mills, by the smoke from the pulp mills!  Then he asked, “Where are you going?” you know the story, and I said “Narrows Inlet”.  So, I said, “You give me Kicking Backthe map and turn when I tell you to, how’s that sound?” and he was like, “Sure, that’s fine.”  We didn't hire that outfit again!

My friend Bill Marsh was falling out at Caycuse, and his partner stopped to make a lunch fire just above him.  Bill was falling a cedar, and a few bits of moss came down on him.  He thought that was different, because the tree wasn’t moving or anything; so he looked but couldn’t see anything.  So, he finished the undercut, and went around the back to put the backcut in it, and had a look over his shoulder at his partner – he was standing there wavinghis arms!  So Bill shouted, “What the hell’s going on?”  Well, a cougar had come down that tree; it had been up the tree when he was putting the undercut in it, and Bill didn’t even see it.  But, the cougar had jumped down and left – if his partner hadn’t had seen it, he wouldn’t have even known it was there! 

Then about seven or eight years ago, a guy got bit by a cougar on the elbow.  He was sitting in his pickup eating lunch with his elbow out the window, and a cougar came up and bit him on the elbow!  It was in the middle of summer…probably a young one who didn’t know what it was doing!  We also had a wolverine towards Bear Creek years ago, when we stayed in camp there.   She had a den in a big rock quarry, and had pups in it, so we used to feed it ham and other lunch meat. 

I did a stint at the head of Knight’s Inlet.  The camp looked a lot like Dodge City.  There were many, many grizzly bears in the vicinity.  The camp dog was a Jack Russell, named "Bear Bait", and he liked to tease these bears once in awhile.  The bears would put the run on him, and into camp they came – the dog ducking under bunkhouses and the bears looking for him.  I don’t know how long he survived this game!

The last twenty years I worked as a faller & bucker, charge hand, landing bucker, forestry crew man (specializing in pile burning using napalm and liquid propane), and managing the campgrounds in the summer months for Timber West.