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Timberland Development Company– Logging on Vancouver Island

May 12, 2012

With the supply of timber at the old mill at Craig’s exhausted in 1918, the Timberland Lumber Company needed to secure a fresh supply. JG Robson acquired timber limits near Ladysmith on Vancouver Island to feed the new sawmill on Fraser River at South Westminster.

The Timberland Development Company, JG Robson, Manager, was incorporated in December 1918 with a capitalization of one million dollars.  The Timberland logging camp at Ladysmith was a sizable concern in its own right, employing 150 men and women. The purchase of five Climax locomotives affords some scope of the extent of their logging operations during the 1920’s.

Timberland - 50 ton Climax Loco

Climax Locomotive sold to Timberland Lumber Co.


Timberland log dump and booms - Ladysmith

Timberland’s log dump on Vancouver Island –Ladysmith Historical Society photo

Joe Inkster of Ladysmith went to work as a whistlepunk for Timberland in 1922 at age 16. His reminiscences appear in Ladysmith’s Colourful History, by V. Johnson-Cull and A Mawson (“Joe D Inkster” pp.97-103).

“To camp I went, staying in Cabin #2 until September 1929, with eight men to a cabin, seven of the cabins were full with employees. There were three other cabins in front of the cookhouse, that housed the two lady waitresses, the logging superintendent, and the third cabin was used for the V.I.P. personnel who arrived from New Westminster to talk over business. . .There were nine married quarters across the tracks from the bunkhouses. All in all it was just a great big happy family.”

Another camp housed Japanese workers who also ran the logging locomotives.

Inkster soon advanced to loading logs onto the rail cars which ran down to the log dump in the bay.

Timberland logging camp locomotive number 2

Timberland logging railway – Ladysmith Archives Photo

The camp bosses were constantly reminding their workers to pay attention to safety.

“Through circumstances that we could not fathom, the management of Timberlands dreaded the month of October for nasty accidents.”

Perhaps that was something to do with previous tragic mishaps at Craig’s, and on the Island an accident to a young camp employee that occurred in October 1921, a year before Inkster arrived.

John Nykoluk, a Pole, was struck on the head while engaged in loading a car at the Timberlands Development Company, and died fifteen minutes later.”Vancouver Sun

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