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Pender Harbour's Maritime Forestry Heritage
History of the Forestry Vessels
In the early days of coastal logging in B.C., most of the logging operations were accessible only by water. Starting in 1912, B.C. Forest Service acquired a fleet of “Ranger launches”, which were used by Rangers and Assistant Rangers to patrol and police logging operations in the B.C. coastal forest “water districts”. These were mostly wooden vessels, either bought as private yachts and converted, built under contract for the Forest Service, or built by the Forest Service in its own boatyard. Ranger launches were used for administration, timber cruising, inspections, fire suppression, transporting equipment and tree seedlings, and as accommodation for inventory and other crews.
Several of these vessels were stationed in Pender Harbour, including the Cherry II and the Wells Gray. In the 1960s and 70s the Forestry staff at Pender Harbour consisted of the Ranger, two Assistant Rangers, a dispatcher and Charlie Hyatt, who assisted the Ranger. His duties included being chief cook and bottle washer on the Forestry boat and also looking after the tool cache and fire equipment. Later on they had two to four university fellows to help with fire fighting.
Forestry boats stationed at Pender Harbour travelled throughout local waters to fight fires – to Egmont (to Skookumchuk Rapids), Jervis Inlet, Princess Louisa Inlet and Texada Island. They saw lots of weather and were often out for three or four days at a time.
By the 1970s, labour intensive construction of wooden vessels was giving way to mass produced fiberglass and aluminum vessels. Helicopters and float planes provided more expedient access to coastal logging operations. Ranger launches were taken out of service and sold at auction in 1974 and again in 1984/85, ending a very proud history of service by these Forestry rangers.
The various Ranger launches were acquired away by new owners who recognized that the quality of construction and maintenance of the newly acquired vessels set them apart from many other similar sized vessels on the coast. They also understood that they were now custodians of a living piece of B.C.’s coastal heritage.
The proud new owners formed an association and held their first rendezvous of retired Ranger launches in Pender Harbour on the July long weekend in 1992. When they returned to Pender Harbour in August 2014, visitors were once again able to appreciate the exteriors and interiors of these well maintained historic vessels.
Ex BC Forest Service Vessel Squadron
Pender Harbour Rendezvous 2014
Madeira Park Wharf, August 1-4
Against the Tide - Documentary
From the BC Forest Service Centennial: This video, entitled Against the Tide, is a 16-minute documentary video (in 2 parts) which combines old and new footage to tell the stories of the people who once worked on the boats of the B.C. Forest Service. The rangers, mechanics, shipwrights and their families who attended the 1995 rendezvous at the Vancouver Maritime Museum tell tales which give us a glimpse of a bygone era in B.C.'s coastal history.
Against the Tide Part 1
Against the Tide Part 1
Against the Tide part 2