63 | Loggers cutting a fir

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Loggers cutting a fir
20th century
14 x 8 cm
This artefact belongs to : © North Vancouver Museum and Archives
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Keys to History

The legendary massive Douglas firs of Burrard Inlet were often featured on postcards such as this one. Trees hundreds of years old, almost a hundred metres tall, and up to 20 feet (6 m) in diameter were recorded, although hard to imagine today. In this image, you can see some of the hand tools used by loggers to cut down these giants: a crosscut saw, a long-handled axe and springboards. Loggers had to find ways to cut trees that were easily as wide as their eight- or nine-foot (2.7-m) saws. This sometimes required sawing from various angles, complicating the issue of felling the trees in a specific direction. By the 1880s, crosscut saws -- also called "Swedish fiddles" -- had sets of four cutting teeth interspersed with rakers to pull out the sawdust. To clean the sticky pitch off the saws, loggers carried whisky jugs filled with kerosene.

  • What

    This early postcard was titled "Taking it Easy" and is signed Smith Photo. The diameter of the tree is marked at eight feet six inches (2.6 m).

  • Where

    This picture was likely taken on the north shore of Burrard Inlet. The giant trees were cause for amazement to locals and foreigners alike.

  • When

    The photo was likely taken in the late 1800s, when loggers were commonly working in the area.

  • Who

    The photographer behind Smith Photo probably recognized that he could turn a good shot into a money-making postcard.