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The History of Forest Use In British Columbia

Archival research reveals that the forest industry of British Columbia extends back in time to the period of 1778-88. Lamb (1938) reports that Captain James Cook was the first European to make use of timber on Vancouver Island. The first reported commerce in timber from the province occurred in 1788 when Captain John Meares loaded a vessel with furs and a deck load of spars and sailed for China (Lamb 1938).

The first machine operated (water power) sawmill in the Pacific Northwest was built in 1827 on the Columbia River near Fort Vancouver. Knight reports that some Indian handloggers delivered logs to local mills in the 1850s (1996:235). Archival records reflect the issuance of handlogging licences to aboriginal peoples from about 1884. Knight notes that by the 1890s logging was important as the cash source for a number of coastal communities with native handloggers and small logging outfits becoming firmly established in the industry (1996:236). Archival data revealed that handlogging was vital to the early timber industry.

For the native peoples, handlogging was easily incorporated in the ‘seasonal round’ with families travelling to logging areas and subsistence spots. Ironically it was this very aspect of handlogging that was used to push native loggers out of the industry as the timber industry grew and the mechanics of extraction became more efficient (BC Archives). According to Knight logging became the life long occupation of many First Nations peoples in British Columbia (1996).

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The Resource

History of Forest Use

Timber Allocation Process

Recent Changes in Forest Plan

Logging and Effects on Ecosystem

Emerging Alternatives

What is TEK/LEK

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