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Empire Mills - June 1959

In March 1930, Empire Mills planned to merge with the Vancouver firm of Mount Baker Plywood Ltd. They had planned to move the firm's South Westminster veneer plant to Squamish. Due to the possibility of the Forest Service cutting back the boundaries of the Mill's tree farm license, the project did not get past the planning stage. In 1937, Empire Logging employed 20 men and by 1939, they were putting 60,000 - 70,000 board feet of wood in the water per day and employed approximately 30 men.
In the 1940's, Empire Mills acquired a sawmill situated by River Road. It had been built by Gerry Dent in the 1930's. In 1945, Empire Logging had bunkhouses set up in the hotel that used to be owned by the Galbraith's at the water's edge. Empire Logging had its first strike in 1948. Unions had just been formed at this time. John Jacobsen was the foreman for Empire Mills.
Empire Mills applied for tree farm license #38 on July 25, 1951. The application was approved and granted to Empire Mills on June, 15, 1954. The decision was appealed by the provincial cabinet on September 7, 1954.
Empire Logging shut down due to lack of a profitable market in August 1957.
In October 1958, Squamish independent sawmill and logging operators (12 firms) protested the granting of tree farm license #38 to Empire Mills stating that it created a dangerous monopoly. H.H. "Buster" Marks acted as chairman of the logger's group. Empire Milles planned to build a sawmill and plywood and board plant in Squamish if the tree farm license was granted. Council approved allocation of timber for Empire Mills in November 1958. On November 26, 1958, MacMillan Bloedell opposed the tree farm license stating that timber remaining outside the license area would be inadequate for independent loggers. Tree Farm License #38 was again approved to be granted to Empire Mills in January 1960.
In 1960, Kashmir Lumber Company bought Empire Mills' unused mill on River Road.
On June 2, 1961, Tree farm license #38 was granted to Keely and Jacobs of Empire Mills Ltd. A condition of granting the license was that the holder of the license had to build a plywood mill in Squamish to provide a minimum of 25 million board feet of lumber. The contract clause stated that 50% of the production had to be logged by outside contractors. Empire Mills formed a Lumber Division so that a mill could be built as stipulated in the tree farm license.
In 1961, Empire Logging produced 41,500 units of lumber (1 unit = 100 cubic feet).
Empire Mills Co. was bought by Canadian Colleries Resources Ltd. in 1962 and they obtained control of the tree farm license #38 area. They had the conditions of the license changed to building a hemlock sawmill instead of a plywood plant. This change was due to the overproduction of plywood and the resulting slower market.

Merrill & Ring Logging Camp, 1926

Merrill & Ring Logging Camp (1926) in the Valleycliffe area.

Merrill and Ring, an American company bought their claim in 1888 for 25 cents per acre. This went from Valleycliffe through the foothills to Brohm Lake. They did not set up in the valley until October 1926. The operation had come from Duncan Bay, before that they had been at Camp O near Alert Bay. Their first camp is where Valleycliffe is located now. They employed 200 people. The hiring was done by Loggers' Agencies in Vancouver. They would fall the trees with cross cut saws then haul the logs with a steam donkey to the train. They used a steam axe to split the wood as machines used only wood fuel at the time.

A lot of Merrill and Ring timber was burnt in a Norton McKinnon fire in 1927. The McKinnon's engine was given as payment. Aloysius McNalley and John Broomquist collected it. The same year, Arthur Edwards assisted in the building of the Merrill & Ring camp at Edith Lake.

In 1929, Merrill and Ring moved their operation across the Mamquam valley to Edith Lake east of Alice Lake. A settlement of 225 men was set up there. Railway track covered the mountainside from Cheekye River southward.

Merrill and Ring closed in 1930 due to the low price of logs during the Depression. Logs were selling from 5 to 6 dollars per thousand. At this time, the logs were hauled by train to the dump at the mouth of the Stawamus River. Merill and Ring started back up in 1932.

Merrill and Ring shut down 3 times in 1937: after New Years due to snow, due to fire season, and in the fall when a bridge over the Cheekye River was washed out. Merrill and Ring left Squamish in 1940.

Cleveland Avenue

Left to right: Stan Clarke's first gas station, harding's barbershop (Stan Harding lived above), PGE Houses, fire hall (with smoke stack), post office.

Cleveland Avenue, Squamish's main street is named after E.A. Cleveland, the BC land surveyor who drew up the plan of the subdivision of Squamish in 1912. All subsequent surveys have been based on this.

Merrill & Ring Logging Camp

Merrill & Ring Logging Camp (1926) in the Valleycliffe Area.

Merrill and Ring, an American company bought their claim in 1888 for 25 cents per acre. This went from Valleycliffe through the foothills to Brohm Lake. They did not set up in the valley until October 1926. The operation had come from Duncan Bay, before that they had been at Camp O near Alert Bay. Their first camp is where Valleycliffe is located now. They employed 200 people. The hiring was done by Loggers' Agencies in Vancouver. They would fall the trees with cross cut saws then haul the logs with a steam donkey to the train. They used a steam axe to split the wood as machines used only wood fuel at the time.

A lot of Merrill and Ring timber was burnt in a Norton McKinnon fire in 1927. The McKinnon's engine was given as payment. Aloysius McNalley and John Broomquist collected it. The same year, Arthur Edwards assisted in the building of the Merrill & Ring camp at Edith Lake.

In 1929, Merrill and Ring moved their operation across the Mamquam valley to Edith Lake east of Alice Lake. A settlement of 225 men was set up there. Railway track covered the mountainside from Cheekye River southward.

Merrill and Ring closed in 1930 due to the low price of logs during the Depression. Logs were selling from 5 to 6 dollars per thousand. At this time, the logs were hauled by train to the dump at the mouth of the Stawamus River. Merill and Ring started back up in 1932.

Merrill and Ring shut down 3 times in 1937: after New Years due to snow, due to fire season, and in the fall when a bridge over the Cheekye River was washed out. Merrill and Ring left Squamish in 1940.

PGE's inaugural train to Squamish

The original photograph was recorded to be from August 28, 1956 and pictured Premier W.A.C. Bennet on the far right.

Additional information from Trevor Mills, 01/2012: This photo is to early for 1956 as the original caption says. The use of sides on a flat car to carry people was outlawed by 1956. The caboose behind the engine had been scrapped by this time. The first run to Squamish was pulled by diesels and not steam. Trevor Mills' father, PGE locomotive engineer Bert Mills who came to Squamish in 1954 following employment with the CPR after arriving from England in 1948. was on the train. This was probably the first through train to Lillooet in 1915. The premier at the time was James McBride.

Yapp's Camp, 1907

Located at present BC Hydro site.
Photo by: Magee.

In 1907, Allan Newton Barbour and his brother Charles came to Squamish and logged using 6 yoke of oxen and took out six 24' logs a "turn" (load). The area logged was near the PGE Shops (by Castle's Crossing), across the river rom the shops, on the Burnt Ground near the cemetery, at Paradise Valley, and about five miles north of Cheekye. 2 to 20 men were employed. It was customary to log close to the river so the logs just had to be dragged into the river and floated to the Howe Sound where they were picked up by the Powell River company tugs and taken up to their mills. Log jams were broken up by men in canoes. Mr McComb was the first to tow logs down the river in a boat. The Barbours would later sell out to Mr Yapp. Mr Yapp's Squamish Timber Company was incorporated on March 21, 1907. In 1910, the Yapp Company cleared the Cheekye area. A steam donkey would haul the logs 400 feet and then an 8 horse team hauled them 1/2 mile on a skid road. Another donkey, called a roader, took the logs to the river. Here the logs followed a log trough. Instead of chokers, logging dogs were used. When the Howe Sound Northern Railway came into Cheakamus, the Yapp company used the train to transport logs to the booming grounds at Squamish. In 1911, a company owned by Mr Lamb took over the Yapp stand of timber.

Research compiled by Eric Andersen, 2011: This photo, apparently taken by one of the Magee brothers, shows the construction phase of the flume project. The location is at the west side of the Squamish Timber Company camp, just above the bank of the Brohm River, which is to the left from this scene. It is difficult to tell from the photograph whether the water for the flume is being led from the Brohm River (in the back and to the left of of the photo) or the Cheekye River (around to the right). Either is possible. The Squamish Timber Co. camp and the beginning of the flume lies between the Brohm River and the Cheekye River. Water for the flume might be more easily taken from the Brohm (closer), but the Cheekye has the steeper gradient. The larger the logs to be flumed, and the steeper the grade, the more water is required.