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Historic photos from Municipal Forest Reserve are rare despite extensive logging

Do you have any photos that depict historic logging operations in North Cowichan’s Municipal Forest Reserve?

They’re not easy to come by, which is strange given how heavily our forests have been logged over the decades.

At my request, The Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives in Duncan kindly searched for old photos of logging of our iconic Mount Prevost — but with little success.

“We have many many pictures that show Mt. Prevost, a local landmark and popular image but always in the background!” they informed me. “There is no attempt to photograph the extent of logging, there is always a building, street, house lake etc. in front (and a long way in front).”

The museum suggested I try the collection of historic logging photos of Wilmer Gold, author of "Logging As It Was: A pictorial history of logging on Vancouver Island,” at the Kaatza Museum in Lake Cowichan. Alas, the collection has photos from areas such as Cowichan Lake, Youbou, Honeymoon Bay, but not of North Cowichan.

Finally, I wandered into the BC Archives in Victoria. With guidance from a researcher, I achieved some results — two 1937 black-and-white photographs of the H.R. MacMillan railway-tie mill on the slopes of Mount Prevost.

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Another photo is simply labelled, “Logging train at Haywood Junction, Duncan, BC,” which refers to a railway point just west of Somenos Lake.

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Historic logging is the reason we no longer have old-growth forests in the Municipal Forest Reserve, better known as the Six Mountains.

But it’s not too late to bring them back — if we act now.

The second phase of public consultation into the future of the forest reserve is underway. You have until Dec. 31 to participate in an on-line survey and support the “active conservation” scenario for our forests.

Read more: https://bit.ly/3VOEFtY

Take the survey: https://bit.ly/3HaWVJV

And if you have historic photos of logging in North Cowichan, please let me know.

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— Larry Pynn, Dec. 11, 2022

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