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 Kerrone
Jim KerroneI started working in the forest industry in 1949.  I began working at Shawnigan Division for Denny Hogan, a contractor for Wellburn Timber Company, taking out poles.  My first job was running two horses.  The fallers would fall the poles in the timber, then the horses would skin them out to the landing.  The logs would be loaded on a truck and taken off the mountain, down to the railroad to be put into separate piles by lengths, from 25 feet to 110 feet.  They were loaded out on flat cars across Canada and the USA.

I worked three summers, six days a week and earned five bucks a day.  I bought a rifle from the catalogue with my first cheque and shot a cougar with it, and earned a $20.00 bounty

In 1952, I went to Kapoor Logging.  There was five feet of snow and a cold deck pile.  The system was a 'North Bend' skyline.  I wondered what I was getting myself into!  I was seventeen and my job was setting chokers.  The hooktender was the person who taught me how to set chokers
In those days, when there was snow, we had two men on each choker; because we had to dig holes in the snow with shovels. 

The rigging slinger was our boss, and the hooktender ran the whole side.  There were two stumps, the back line, and the road line.  We were working right in the center.  The pile was frozen, the rigging would be breaking like it was going out of style as we were trying to bring the logs in, so the rigging slinger said to me, “If you hear a crack, duck kid!”  We wouldn’t have had a chance, because we were working in between two blocks, which were 100 ft. behind us. 

1930 Queen Charlotte IslandsAs time went on, I worked at lots of different places up and down the coast for short times. In those days before we went pulling rigging, we had to know how to splice line.  The old timers would teach us how, if we were interested.  I think old Youp-Youp (Alf Nelson) taught me.  There are different splices – the main splice is the eye splice with marlin spikes.  Then, there were short longs when we wanted to join a line together.  The long splice is quite complicated.  It was hard to tell where the line was spliced together as the splice looked like the original line.  The splices were mostly for the running lines, and we had to have an ‘eye’ to hook things to.   Then the shackle went into that.  This was the butt rigging on the high lead system.

We were always splicing in those days!  We would put two railroad spikes in a stump, tie it, and make the size of eye we wanted.  We would double our line back, and put spikes in so it held together.  There were six strands to a line, and then there was the core – it was rope core, but now it is all steel core.  Now they have pressed eyes, but when that pressed eye wore out we had to splice a new eye.  One person pulled the strand, and the other guy put the marlin spikes in.  There was this thing called a guillotine, and they used a sledge hammer to hit it, to cut the line off.  Now they use a saw with a line cutter that had cutting disk to cut the line.

1935 or 36 at Gordon Bay- Joe Lum, Johnny & Joe KerroneI remember once when I started out setting chokers a couple of claims over, there were different settings – we logged one setting, and then moved to another one.  We were in four or five feet of snow, and my cousin Johnny Kerrone, was pulling rigging.  They were digging a hole in the snow to set a choker around the log.  I was on the back choker – there were two chokers and a high lead.  My partner (Ron Foster) and I had a gun barrel coming out of the snow as we went in to set the choker, where these guys were digging.  We put it upside down.  We were supposed to go over and down, but we didn’t.  Old ‘Youp-Youp’ said, “Oh you guys you did it wrong”, and then he showed us the right way.  The snow was frozen – just like running on a road, so he ran over there, and the girl whistle punk, Gladys Johnson was pulling on the wire for a bit more slack.  Suddenly, the wire broke and the whistle went “toot”!  As soon as Youp-Youp heard that, he threw the choker off the log.  It would have buried those three guys.  We saw lots of that.  It was a good thing he wasn’t a lazy hooktender, he was always showing us the right way.  I set chokers for a year before I got a job pulling rigging.  I pulled rigging for another year and a half.

In 1954, I went to Gordon River.  I broke in second rigging on the back-end of a skidder.  I stayed there for about three months, and then went to Shawnigan Lake where I worked as a second rigger on the track sides for two years.  Next, I went to Meade Creek and worked as a second rigger for a guy named Ray Dods.  He was a well-known logger in those days.  I worked there for five and a half years as a high rigger, and was head rigger from 1957 to 1961.  That was when the tin trees (steel spars) came in – they were all wood until then.

Broadfoot & Carol Larsen Gordon River 1953One time at Meade Creek, three of us were pulling a spar from the felled and bucked out to the road.  I was second rigging for Ray Dods.  We were out about three hundred feet.  The spar tree was five feet at the butt, and maybe one hundred thirty feet long.  To pull the main line out, we used one block for the haul back.  I hooked onto the spar and went ahead.  As it was going, the butt rolled down the hill, taking the haul back with it under the butt.  I stopped it to clear it up and yelled to Ray to stop because I needed more slack on the haul back.  Ray was standing on a stump relaying hand signals to the engineer.  The engineer thought he meant “tight-line”.  The line became tight with a siwash in it.  I yelled, “slack the haulback!”  So, he went to slack the haulback, but the engineer thought he said “tight-line”, and he “tight-lined” it.  I was right in the bight.  It hit me, took out a tooth and left a hole in my head!  Then it threw me thirty feet.  It could have taken my head off, but I was very lucky, I only needed stitches to repair my head.

Once the steel spars came in, it was very different.  I liked the old wooden tree, as there was more thinking to the job.  We topped the trees with an axe … no power saws.  A power saw was too big to bring up the tree, so we used an axe.  We had to notch all the stumps, and take all the bark off with an axe. Now with the tin trees, they just take the power and notch six stumps.  Then they get the guylines out, with the winches on the machines and just go ahead and winch it up.

When we did it on the wood trees we had to spike the guylines.  The first wrap was made when we pulled it tight on the main line.  On a wood tree – we would put eight or ten spikes in on the first wrap.  Then we would slack it down, pull the slack back, and then put on the other wrap.  We would put two spikes in it, and when it was down we slacked it down.  Then, we would bring back another wrap, and put eight to ten spikes in the last wrap.  The last takes the pull.  You would think it would be the first one, but it is the last one.

The crew and I always had fun working together!  Down at Kapoor Logging, they had a Danish fellow, who they called Pete "the Bugger", his last name was Bogart. He worked down at the reload.  We would bring the trucks down, and dump the logs.  Pete was the head loader, so he would load them on the cars to go to Cowichan Bay.  He was in his late sixties and a real character.  The story is that he came from a well-to-do family in Denmark, and he behaved in a manner unbecoming of one of his stature. The family didn’t like that, so they sent him out on big trips to different places – he came to B.C. in the 1920’s and he never went back.  He stayed here the rest of his life and died at Shawnigan Lake, living well into his nineties. This is a story that I heard about him.  He had a toothache and went to the dentist in Duncan to have it pulled.  The office was busy and the receptionist said he would have to wait.  She asked his name, and when he replied, “Peter Bogart”, she wanted to know if he was a relation to Humphrey Bogart.  “Yah, my brudder!”  He was next – he didn’t have to wait! 

Neil Deuchars Gordon River 1953Another character I met in Knight Inlet was a man whose nickname was ‘Race Horse Pete’.  He was an old rigger, still rigging in his sixties.  In camp, he would work hard and save all his money until he had enough to go to town to the Race Track in Vancouver.  Sometimes he would stay in town for awhile, but other times he would come back on the next boat, depending on the horses.

The first tree I went up was in 1943 with my Dad on a passline.  He told me I was holding so tight when we were at the top that I squeezed the core out of the guyline.  He was running camp up at Teddy Robson’s during the war at Mount Hall in Saltair.
  
We worked hard but there was still time to play.  Sometimes, we might have a little piece of bark in our sandwiches, but if you ever played jokes, you knew you were going to get one back – and you had to be willing to take it!  At Meade Creek, there was a guy named Jack Crabbe, who chewed plug tobacco.  He was down at the rock cut loading out and needed more tobacco, so he asked a truck driver to, “Get a plug from Kerrone.”  Another hooker, Jimmy Carson, said “We’ll fix that bugger.”  So he took my plug, cut a quarter off and then put gear dope with the plug of tobacco and it really blended well.  Gear dope is what was put on the gears, so they wouldn’t wear.  It is basically tar – we would heat it up in the morning when the machine was warming up and then pour it on the gears.  That night, when we went down, Crabbe said, “You so and so’s”.  Instead of sharing what he thought was tobacco, he put it all in his mouth.  He said when he was loading logs, someone hollered at him – he went to holler back and he couldn’t open his mouth!  I’m sure I got paid back for that!

Kapoor Logging 1953Working in the logging industry was hit and miss as to the days that we worked.  Our work was dependant on weather conditions.  The summer heat and dry weather required working early shift and summer shut downs to lessen the risk of forest fires. Nine months was a good year of working at Meade Creek.  The rest of the year, we would work in other places.  We worked through storms, snow, rain, mud.  Sometimes we would get flooded out, or a bridge might get washed out, or the wind was so strong that trees were coming down, so we would go home until the weather settled down and washouts were repaired.
 
In the 1960’s Dad and I had a falling and yarding contract for the Taylor Brothers at Camp 6 (Caycuse) that lasted 2 ½ years. One hot summer day we had been on early shift for three or four weeks and everyone was tired, Jim Kerrone & Bob Foote 1968 Gordon Rivercranky and hot.  One of the crew had not shown up, so we were short-handed.  I was the only one on the rigging and when we finished the setting, I blew for strawline.  The strawline came back hooked to the haul back eye.  When it came to the road line block, I stopped the line, and unhooked it from the haul back eye.  Needing the haul back to stay up the hill to hook up the blocks to send into the landing, I blew to go ahead on the strawline.  Both lines took off down the hill.  I stopped both lines; the haul back went down the hill, past the block 100 ft.  So I had to pack both blocks and straps down the hill to catch up to the haul back eye and send them into the landing.  When I got to the landing, I said to Dad, “Did you forget the signals?”  He said, “You’re fired too!”  Unknown to me, he had been fighting with the chaser in the landing and had fired him.  I said, “You can’t fire me!  I’m a partner.”  All was well the next day!  As they say, “That’s logging!”
 
After that claim was finished I went back to Gordon River.  I thought I would like to try falling, so I was put on right away with seasoned fallers, Sonny Monte and Eric Erickson.  There were some big cedars which needed big undercuts.  I didn’t know how to deal with them, so I spent a lot of unnecessary time wedging, but in time, I learned with the help of the old-time fallers. The scaler, Bob Foote, felt sorry for me because I wasn’t getting much timber down.  He said he would pad my scale because we were on contract.  I said no, just give me what I have coming.  Meanwhile Monte and Erickson were so far ahead of me that I didn’t see them until quitting time.

Gordon River shut down in 1981.  Ken Ramwell got me a job working for Dick Nimmo at Franklin River on a chunk truck.  Ken and I would yard the chunks to different areas and Dick would pick them up with his self-loader and haul them to the Coleman dump.  It was a long day, leaving Duncan at 5:00 a.m., drive to Lake Cowichan to Dick Nimmo’s and then drive to the claim to begin work.  On hot days, after work, we always had a cold beer in the water can.  I worked there for a year and a half.

In 1983, I moved on to Mount Sicker Logging, working with the Smith boys.  Good timber, lots of production.  Stayed there until 1991 and then retired.  It was a good place to work and finish my years in the woods.  Working with good people was one of the best things about working in the logging industry.