Saturday, October 25, 2008

Woodsmen of the West

Coastal British Columbia is one of the few places that has a smaller population now than it did early in the 20th Century. All up and down the coast you could find remote logging camps, solitary hand-loggers, fishermen, canneries and settlers eking out a living in remote inlets. Then the canneries closed, support towns disappeared, logging practices changed and higher speed transportation altered the location of population centers.

I love my new home in Coastal BC and enjoy reading about what life was like in the early days. Woodsmen of the West, written by M. Allerdale Grainger in 1908, is such a book. Grainger worked in the forestry industry as a chief of records, secretary of a royal commission on logging practices and chief forester. His book is fiction, but it's a realistic account about life in remote forests and camps.

The main character is Marty, an immigrant from England who has come to Canada to make his way. You follow him through the hotels, bars and hiring halls on Cordova Street in Vancouver, up the coast on the steamship Cassiar and to the Carter's remote logging camp in Coola Inlet. The book then switches to follow Carter's life and how he became a "Boss logger" and the owner of his own logging camp. It's a hard life for logger and boss alike. You get glimpses of the the pleasures and dangers of working in the forest, evenings around the wood stove in the bunkhouse, and annual trips to the city to drink and spend hard earned dollars.

If you are looking for a historical novel that is authentic, I highly recommend Woodsmen of the West. It can be purchased online at, or

When I'm at the cabin, reading is one of my favourite pastimes. Do you have any suggestions for me? -- Margy


  1. Hello Margy, we recently had a conversation similar to this at about 'Fun at the Cabin'. Here were a few reading suggestions: Walden, the Foxfire Series, Ted Nugent's Kill It and Grill It Cookbook, Bible, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Alone in the Wilderness about Dick Preonekke, various field guides, birds, trees, etc. Books about the Amish. Classic novels like Ethan Frome, etc. - Even though the website is a lot about log homes/cabins. I'm sure they would all LOVE to see yours. You should join us!

  2. Whoops, I should have said

  3. Can´t recommend you anything but I just want to say that your views are great.

  4. Thanks for the suggestions Denise. I have read Walden and Alone in the Wilderness and enjoyed them both. I also read Four Seasons North about another Alaskan cabin experience. Also, thanks for the invitation. I'll come check it out. - Margy