HomeHistoryUncertaintySacrificeServiceSo What?Hard QuestionsFor TeachersResponsesLinks


Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Back to Work Page

For the Campbell River forest, the conscientious objectors left the snags lie where they fell. In total, they cleared away nearly 600,000 of these dead trees. By planting the new trees among the fallen snags, the seedlings also received shade from the hot sun while they were young and vulnerable.


In other forests, however, the COs used the snags for firewood or other uses. Victor Goossen went to Banff National Park in December 1943.


“This camp housed approximately 40 COs whose work consisted of cutting down dry trees that had died in an earlier forest fire. These trees were cut into different lengths, depending on the thickness of the tree. Trees over 10” or 12” [25 - 30 cm] were cut into firewood and hauled away to be sold. Smaller diameter trees were cut into 8'-16' [20 – 40 cm] lengths, to be used as mine props in underground coal tunnels to keep the ceiling from falling in. These were hauled to Drumheller, Alta. [ASP, 93]


The COs working in Canada's national parks produced 808,405 linear feet of mine props. Laid end to end, these props would stretch 246 km. The COs were part of a much larger workforce who stayed in Canada instead of going to war. Over 250,000 men eligible for army service stayed in Canada instead of fighting to provide the country with essential services. Without pit props and without firewood, mines would shut down and people wouldn't be able to heat their houses. The government acknowledged that this was valuable service. COs were not paid what their labour was worth. Most of them were happy to make this sacrifice.

COs working in Mount Seymour Park.  David Jantzi far left.

David Jantzi felt that working at sang falling (clearing dead trees) tree planting, and firefighting were important task and contributions.


Jake Krueger standing next to a pile of logs
Loading mining pit props
Four COs posing with a saw at Clear Lake

Abram J. Thiessen recalls that a logger who was not a CO might get paid twenty or thirty times as much.


“Our camp was situated 12 miles southwest of Campbell River in an area where a very large fire had burned out many square miles of forest in 1938 which was four years before we arrived. For miles in all directions our eyes could see the destruction as a result of that fire. What remained were soot blackened “snags” as they were called. These ranged from six feet high stumps to two hundred feet giants.”


“When finally we received the proper boots we were ready to begin our work which consisted of cutting down these fire damaged trees, now called snags. Before the war this work had been done by experienced loggers or fellers but most of them had either joined the armed forces or found other better paying employment. All the work had been on a piecework basis. Forestry employees called scalers [measured] the diameter of the stumps and so determined the square inches cut in any given day. [This] determined the amount of money earned. As you might know we COs earned 50 cents per day plus food and lodging. The pieceworkers by dint of hard work and long days had earned as much as twelve to fifteen dollars per day. We heard of some that had up to twenty in one day. Now we laugh at that sum but in the late thirties and early forties it was a very high income.” [ASM, 30-49]


Eight COs with a big saw at Clear Lake

Climbing up a tree to saw off the top

Timberton sawmill


Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Back to Work Page

Top | Home | History | Uncertainty | Sacrifice | Service | So What? | Hard Questions | For Teachers | Respond | Links | Search | About This Site