The Cedar Mill at False Creek in Vancouver, 1950

Note from Editor/Daughter: This story, from my dad’s journal of memories, is about a job he had at a cedar mill in False Creek, Vancouver.

Working on the greenchain.  

After fire season shut down my job logging at Hollyburn Mountain I took a job in a cedar mill at False Creek in Vancouver.

I had a housekeeping room with an old couple not too far away and was often invited down for tea.Chew Shingle Mill in False Creek, VancouverImage from Vancouver Archives: from the collection of Major James Skitt Matthews, (1878-1970), Chew Shingle Co. Ltd. Mill and booming grounds, southside of False Creek. Dad never identified the mill where he worked and it turns out that in the early 50s False Creek was full of sawmills. However the Chew Single Mill was, as far as I can tell, the only mill that worked exclusively with cedar.*

My job at the mill was to sort and pull lumber off a moving chain and stack it. The crew were not always the nicest people and were constantly changing.

Once I had a Sikh working just ahead of me and when he could not keep up I helped him. But that turned out to be the wrong thing to do as he started to let more and more go. I stopped helping him and then he got mad at me.

Two Japanese friends on the other side of the chains yelled at me to watch out. Turning around I saw him wielding a large piece of lumber to throw at me. I sidestepped and threw it right back, and the fight was on.

By the time the foreman arrived the lumber had piled up three feet deep on the boardwalk. I had now become angry enough to tell the foreman that I would gladly leave. But he helped to clean up and we worked between us the rest of the night.

The next night coming to work I found a big Swede in the Sikh’s place. Sadly this Swede definitely did not like the Japanese people, the ones that had saved me from being knocked out by a piece of lumber.

With that many different ethnic groups it is no wonder there is often little cooperation among Canadians. I believe after what I have seen working among so many different people, that when ethnic prejudices dominate it sometimes makes it difficult to cooperate and work together efficiently.

The cedar smell at the mill began to bother me. If they had switched to other woods off and on, it would likely not have been too bad but nothing but cedar was too much. From the sickly look of the faces of other mill workers I could see it was unhealthy so again I decided to look around for some other job and found one working at the Hotel Vancouver.

*I have been trying to track down the location of the mill and I think it might have been on this point in Charleston Park on the Sea Wall. The two bridges and Granville Island appear in roughly the right places.View from Charleston Park on the Sea Wall is the same as the sawmill that dad worked at in the early 50sChew Shingle Mill in False Creek, Vancouver

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