-by Cynthia A Carlsen, moderator of the HWY 14 History Facebook group
The logging industry has been an integral part of the economic growth for the coastal communities along HWY 14. As exploration spread for timber so came the building of towns and villages… and opening of roads. Sooke and area has had numerous small and large operations for over 150 years, and the rich and abundant timber source of Douglas-fir and Western Red cedar served, and continues to do so, in demanding markets around the world. In fact, as far back as the late 1700s, when Captain Cook landed on Vancouver Island, he had his crew chop down trees for ship masts or “spars” due to their superior quality. Since the 1850s timber was sold to worldwide markets for anything from shipbuilding, bridges, railways, and gold rush buildings.
Like so many young men before him, Ted Shaw began his introduction into the timber industry, working as a “Whistle punk” for his “Uncle”, Chris Boyd, who ran a mill in the Cowichan area. Mr. Boyd eventually moved the Boyd Lumber Company in 1935 to Blueberry Flats (part of HWY 14) in the District of Shirley – where Ted followed and continued working.
- A “Whistle punk” often young and unskilled, responsible for relaying instructions between the remote worksite and the place where the logs are dragged for loading. Before the advent of radio, whistle punks directed the donkey punchers using a series of whistle blasts actuated by pulling a thin cable.
- A “Donkey puncher” is the operator of a small steam donkey, a machine used in logging in the 19th and 20th centuries.
- A “Donkey” or “steam donkey” is a machine, originally steam-powered, that pulls the lines used in yarding and loading lumber at the cut site; it is a type of yarder. Depending on its use, it might also be called a skidder, loader, roader, or flyer.
Bear in mind, this era was during the Great Depression of the early ‘30s, also known as the “Dirty Thirties”. It was a devastating time for millions of families across Canada. Sooke and area also felt the hit. Many families were very poor, unemployed and even homeless. Ted’s family wasn’t any different – when there was no work, Ted would work as a labourer at a local farm, or dig clams at Whiffin Spit at three and a half cents a pound.
By the end of the ‘30’s Ted began working as a faller for Elder Logging. The Elder Logging operation was a huge part of the Sooke economy, and many of the families that resided in the camp still live and/or have their children living in the Sooke area today.
It would be in the early ’40s that Ted would meet the love of his life, Elsie Gibson. The young couple moved to Sooke in 1945, residing on Maple Avenue, where Ted worked as a contract faller for Butler Brothers Logging. Butler Brothers, like Elder Logging, provided much employment to the local men and women of the area. Ted and Elsie raised their children, Barbara and Edward Jr. in the Maple Avenue “Apple House”.
Ted started up his own logging operations called “Ted Shaw Logging” in 1950. He had a contract with Muir Creek Logging (which was a partnership between MacMillan Bloedel and BC Forest Products) to log the wind fallen and diseased logs. Ted worked the 3,600 acre Muir Creek Block 70 for 11 years. This is the same block where he found the perfect tree which once carved and erected would become the world famous totem pole at Beacon Hill Park.
Like other logging outfits, Ted employed a lot of locals… below is a list of employees.
Note: I have been advised by Ed Shaw, Ted’s son, that this may not be a complete list. Therefore, he wishes to advise that if anyone has been missed, please note that Ted highly respected and appreciated all employees, and he sends apologizes to anyone missed on the list.
Ted Shaw Logging Co. Ltd. Employee list:
Marshal Smith, Mickey McGuire, Howard Elder, Jack Elder, Clare Solomon, Ken Worth, Cornelius Smith, Ken Priske, Oke Linell, Karl Linell, Mae Linell, Art Creamer, Jim Peers, Elmo White, Pete Pedneault, Herb Caffery, Dick Herrling, Dick Thut, Richard Hughes, Mandus Michelson, Eric Michelson , Byron Parman, Tuck Vowles, Rudy Vowles, Bill Doidge, Mike Gibson, Tom Gibson, Glen Hay, Bill Tambling Sr., Bill Tambling Jr., Rick Sudlow, Brian Swift, Bill Murphy, Jim Thorpe, Alan Ruttan, Dennis Ruttan, Sandy Ruttan, Bruce Butler, Elaine Murray, Lawrence Carpenter, Bill Brown, Bob Brown, Jim Neal, Garry Brooks, Allan Brooks, Merv Brooks, Hap Ross, Keith Ross, Rick Pears, Gary Kilgor, Bill Cook, Art Cook, Darcy Monnington, Alan Forsberg, Leonard Diggs, Karl Sahlin, Ron Sahlin, Jim Dixon, Ed Dick, Arthur Jones, Leonard Jones, Ernie Peacock, Jim Carson, Pete Hill, Fred Lajeunesse, Bill Adams, Erling Bergman, Erik Bergman, Rob Gudmundson, Darryl Gudmundson, Ozzie Watson, Don McLean, Don Kennedy, Finn Kennedy, Jim Kennedy, John Mueter, Paul Finnela, Hugh Cowan, Charlie Greave, Lynn Moore, Doug Morris, Mike Banner, Bill Reese, Jube Wickheim, Ardiel Wickheim, Glen Holland, Bob Whitmore, Buster Buxton, Bob Stange, Fred Stange, Chris MacRae, Ray Robinson, Dave Crooks, John Money, Irwin Perry, Jim Nelson, and Gavin Dixon.
In the late ‘50s Ted was contracted to produce telephone poles along the right of way for the hook up of the West Coast Road from Jordan River to Port Renfrew. This would provide land line phone service to the isolated village of Port Renfrew. It’s important to note that it wasn’t until 1958 that a logging road was finally put in between Port Renfrew and Jordan River. Finally, folks were able to travel from the remote community and experience life outside of Renfrew by visiting the other towns like Jordan River, Sooke and Victoria.
Once that contract was completed, Ted had a contract with BC Forest Products to do a poling operation at Mosquito Creek in Port Renfrew.
In 1959, Muir Creek Logging approached Ted Shaw Logging to take over a pole contract that had gone sideways. Ted stayed with that contract until 1969.
In 1964, Ted fell another monster cedar pole at Muir Creek, Block 70 – trimmed it was 140 feet tall. The pole was sold by MacMillan Bloedel to the Bell Pole Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where it was placed on pedestals in front of their head office. Ironically, the following year Ted produced a 145 foot pole in the same area which was hauled by son Ed Shaw to Coopers Cove. The pole went on to be used on a high-line somewhere in the Fraser Valley.
Ted worked as a stump to dump logging contractor for Pacific Logging Company until ‘76/77 – Pacific decided to start their own logging operation – Ted then officially retired.
But did Ted really retire? Nope… he was known to be a go-getter entrepreneur. He was tough and rugged, just like the thick timber and terrain he canvassed throughout the years on our island’s rainforest.
We’ll talk about his next venture in Part 4 of 5 of the series. Stay tuned!
Please note, HWY 14 History is a closed Facebook Group. To become a member, just visit this link and ask to join. SPN will be posting these with the expressed permission from Carlsen; to get the first scoop and participate with the online conversation, consider joining HWY 14 History. -SPN
- Part 5 of 5: History of the Shaw Family—Farming Days
- Part 4 of 5: History of the Shaw Family—Tripp Creek Pole and Piling Ltd.
- Part 3 of 5: History of the Shaw Family—Logging Days
- Part 2 of 5: History of the Shaw Family—World’s Tallest Totem Pole
- Part 1 of 5: History of the Shaw Family—Cougar Hunting Days
- History of the Shaw family coming soon to the Hwy14 History group