Column: Shuswap lumberjacks uphold region’s logging heritage

Shuswap Passion by Jim Cooperman

The large crowd that gathered in Scotch Creek, behind The Hub, on the Canada Day weekend to watch this year’s Timber Day’s events were treated to two extraordinary opening acts.

Jody Evans, who also produces the very successful logger’s show at Grouse Mountain held every day of the week, performed his stunt high up on a spar tree, from which he felled while connected to a zip line. Lumberjack extraordinaire, Carson Bischoff “survived” when the outhouse “blew up!”

The crowd loved the opening show and was entranced by all the competition events that followed.

Now a tradition nearly four decades old, the North Shuswap Timber Days is one of a series of competitions across North America and the world, with events that pay homage to logging heritage when the tools were axes and crosscut saws. While many of the competitors are loggers, the sport is open to all. There are three categories for each event; novice for the beginners, intermediate for those who have had three wins in the novice category, and open for those who have had three wins in the intermediate category.

One of the most exciting events is the springboard, where the contestant has to chop a notch in a pole, insert a springboard that he climbs up to chop another notch until he gets to the top where he has to chop through the attached pole. You can still find old cedar stumps in Seymour Arm and elsewhere that have slots from the springboards used in the old days to fell trees in order to avoid the massive flared butts.

Read more: In photos and video: Lumberjacks get chopping at Shuswap competition

Read more: Shuswap lumberjacks extraordinaire

Read more: Column: Celebrating 50 years of Shuswap Passion

The world champion for the springboard event, Mitch Hewitt, who lives in Scotch Creek, had a lengthy handicap before he could begin and yet he still won the contest. Hewitt travels to Sidney, Australia for the world competition. He married into the North Shuswap legendary pioneer family, the Bischoffs, who are the founders and the mainstays of the Timber Days Society which hosts the event every two years. Local businesses sponsor the show, providing cash prizes for the winners.

It takes brute strength and raw talent to perform well at logger’s sports according to Karl Bischoff, who began his career in 1977 at a competition in Salmon Arm. His favourite events include the wood chop, where the timberjack stands on the log secured in a steel holder while he chops through it; the cross-cut (or “misery whip” as the old-timers called it) where the sawyer is timed as they cut off a slice; and noisy “hot saw” where competitors use souped-up power saws to cut off two slices, down and up.

Just as there are fewer loggers now in the woods, given the advances in high-tech logging equipment, there are fewer people involved in logger’s sports. However, more women are taking up the sport and it was cool to see the gals sweating it up with the crosscut saws at Timber Days. Also, they had to change the name of the boy’s chop, as there was one very energetic girl swinging the axe.

No doubt, the North Shuswap Timber Days will go on thrilling audience for many years to come.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

In photos: The 27th Annual Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival

Images from Friday evening and Saturday at the festival grounds.

Summerland cannabis shop receives approval in principle

Inspection now required before Green Gaia may sell cannabis

North Okanagan-Shuswap Liberal candidate responds to Trudeau ethics report

Prime Minister’s immediate response to commissioner’s findings appreciated

Shuswap tow truck operator sees high number of collisions this summer

Drivers encouraged to “loosen up behind the wheel, smarten up and read the road”

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

15-year-old boy drowns after midnight jump into Okangan Lake

The RCMP and BC Coroners Service are investigating the drowning.

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

Most Read