Thursday, April 03, 2008

Shake Block Cutter's Cabin

In my March 26 post, I shared a picture of an old wood stove that our friend John found in the forest at the head of Powell Lake. Here's the rest of the story.

Since the turn of the century (20th that is), rugged individuals have worked in the forests surrounding Powell River, BC. First loggers came through to chop and saw down the trees for lumber and pulp to be used in the paper mill.

You can still see huge stumps with springboard holes on the side. Loggers cut a notch in the trunk and then put a long narrow springboard into the notch to stand on. From this precarious perch they would chop or cut the tree at a height of about ten feet. Not a job for the feint of heart. Following behind the loggers were shake block cutters who took advantage of the cedar logs and stumps left behind. The cabin we happened upon belonged to shake blockers.

The first hint that someone had lived in the area was a decrepit fence along the lakeshore. Behind the fence was a cabin site, but the four walls had already fallen and were rotting away to nothing. What did remain was a small stack of old shake blocks covered with moss, evidence of the road they built to get their shake blocks (used to create shingles) to the lake for transportation, the stove, a root cellar, an outhouse and a trash dump. Based on the items in the dump, John estimated the site was used in the 1950s.

The outhouse was quite unique. The sides were six foot high slabs of cedar split lengthwise, apropos for shake blockers. John couldn't pass up a rear "window" for a photo op. "Here's Johnny!" The dump included lots of bottles and cans. They ate lots of canned corned beef and liked their Copenhagen chewing tobacco. There was also a rusted pan that must have been used for baking bread in the wood stove.

Standing in the midst of this piece of BC history was pretty exciting. You never know when you will find such a gem as you hike, ride your quad or boat along our coast. -- Margy


  1. ~~Betty~~9:06 AM

    Love that picture of John he looks like one of those tree faces in reverse. I am a little sad when cabins in the woods are gone I would like to have lived in one.
    Where I lived in the sixtys there were a few very large tree stumps with spring board marks on them.
    You pictures are great.

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