UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Logging and landscape change on the north shore of Burrard Inlet, British Columbia, 1860's to 1930's Kahrer, Anna Gabrielle


Logging constituted the first industry on the North Shore of Burrard Inlet and remained an important part of the local economy until its decline in the early 1930's. Between the 1860's and the 1930's enormous changes were made in West Coast logging technology, and lumbermen had an increasingly visible impact on the forest landscape as they employed industrial technology in the woods. Over the decades the spatial pattern of the lumber industry on the North Shore changed significantly: lumber operations moved away from the water's edge into the steep slopes of the North Shore Mountains. This thesis offers a study of early forest exploitation in this Coast Mountain environment. It examines how innovations in logging transport technology affected the spatial pattern and the environmental impact of the industry. Changing market conditions for lumber and shingle products are included in the discussion. In many ways the North Shore of Burrard Inlet was a microcosm of logging technology on the West Coast. Company records, historical maps and photographs, surveyor's field notes, reports of the Forest Branch and the Water Rights Branch and various correspondence files provided the majority of the primary data. Remains of logging operations were located during numerous hikes in the North Shore Mountains. From the 1860's to the 1890's human and animal power was used in the woods and lumber operations had a relatively small impact on the forest ecosystem. After the turn of the century steam power was adopted in the North Shore forests and lumbermen began to change the appearance of the land. By the 1920's several capital-intensive, large scale operations had emerged which employed logging railroads, trucks, and high-lead-yarding. They pushed into steep, hitherto inaccessible slopes and left barren, slash-covered clear cuts, prone to forest fires. Cutting regulations were virtually nonexistent and the devastated hill sides were left to natural regeneration. The public grew increasingly concerned over logging operations in Vancouver's water supply areas and the Greater Vancouver Water District was incorporated in 1924 to protect these watersheds. It gradually bought out all lumber companies; by the early 1930's the Capilano, Lynn and Seymour catchment areas were closed watersheds.

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