Industry Archives - West Wind Hardwood

Near and Far – At Home in the Tay Valley

1800’s – Ontario, Canada

The Nielsen Family is not the only folk here at WWH that have deep roots. My great-great grandfather (maybe another great is needed), Abraham Ferrier immigrated from Kirkintilloch, Scotland with his brother (and families) in response to the British Government’s offer of free land and promises of government support – those often proved unreliable.

Jean S. McGill researched the Ferrier family. In McGill’s book, “A Pioneer History of the County of Lanark” she provides a vivid description of the economic unrest that followed the Napoleonic wars. Two years of unusual prosperity were followed by severe depression – unemployment, low farm prices, reduced demand, and political disruption. Certain areas of England and Scotland suffered particular hardship, including the western Scotland area of Paisley and Glasgow. There, the weavers were especially hurt as wages, which had peaked at 25 shillings per week in 1803, fell to ten in 1816 (and then to around five in 1819).

This depression was the direct result of the war, during which prices in Britain were driven up by reduced competition from closed borders. The weavers, who, according to McGill, practiced their trade at home, extended their hours continually as competition increased and markets dropped after the war. Coincidentally, soldiers were returning in large numbers from the war to that same region – as it had been the largest supplier of troops–and seeking employment.

Read more
Why Cut Down a Tree?

Why Cut Down a Tree?

The article below my intro is re-published with Bill Cook’s Blessing, however, it was first published on October 21, 2016 – Michigan State University Extension.

In my mind, Bill’s managed forests are akin to our woodlots. In British Columbia, the term woodlot typically refers to a plot of privately owned forest land. In BC, there are an estimated 20,000+ woodlot owners in the province which have forest holdings greater than 20 hectares (50 acres); an approx. 855 active woodlots.

Read more
Ex-Forest Service Boats of British Columbia

Ex-Forest Service Boats of British Columbia

They are everywhere.  It’s somewhat like being pregnant; all of a sudden everyone is pregnant.  The many years Jan and I have been on the water we’ll pass one, Jan will comment, I’ll forget and there you have it.  Now all of a sudden there’s meaning and they literally are everywhere.  I’d feel comfortable saying this squadron is the largest association in BC dedicated to wood boats. 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”. They started out with three wooden boats that were used to patrol the Canada-US border to prevent the illegal export of logs, inspect timber applications, examine hand loggers’ licenses, deal with timber theft, fire suppression and enforce the Timber Mark Act.

Read more
Near and Far: The Little Boat That Won’t

Near and Far: The Little Boat That Won’t

It won’t cost you a lot of money and it won’t keep you in port when the weathers rough.

I don’t doubt for a minute that the Coaster 23 represents the shape of things come for many boaters. A semi-displacement design with small diesel and excellent small boat cruising range, the Coaster is a John Lovett and Dick Chudley creation.  All in all, it’s a boat with the sort of sea-keeping qualities that made this workboat design a success in the first place.

Read more

Buyer Beware: J & S Timber Products Alaska Tonewood

Buyer Beware: J & S Timber Products Alaska Tonewood

*** Musictree Tonewood – J&S Timber Products ***

The best tonewood you will NEVER get from Ketchikan, Alaska

Shaming misbehaving companies publicly may not be the real answer – but it sure as heck feels good!!

We’d like to detail for your discretional pleasure a series of exchanges that led to the purchase of goods from this seemingly reputable company J & S Timber Products (aka Musictree Tonewood, aka Alaska Tonewood). A simple Google search on this company could have saved us A LOT of trouble.

Behold our cautionary tale to the luthiers, carvers, guitar and instrument makers out there reading this – Sandra Rusin McCray and her company’s claims should be taken with a grain of salt.

Read more

The Mysterious Death of the Namesake of the Douglas-fir

Was David Douglas trampled by a wild bull, or lured into a trap?

Hidden off the beaten path, the slopes of Mauna Kea, the dormant Hawaiian volcano, there’s a rough stone spire that marks the spot where the famed botanist David Douglas is said to have died. But what this monument to the namesake of the Douglas-fir doesn’t allude to is the story of the strange events surrounding Douglas’s death. There is no mention, for example, of the former convict who will likely always be implicated.

Edward “Ned” Gurney was an Englishman from Middlesex, about the same age as Douglas, but the two couldn’t have been more different. “Gurney is raised just above street urchin,” says Mills. Where Douglas had come up surrounded by education and palace finery, Gurney had run afoul of the law at an early age and had been paying for it ever since. According to Mills, Gurney had been caught stealing around three shillings worth of lead fixtures off a house, and as punishment, he was sent to the infamous Botany Bay penal colony in Australia. At the time there were only three sentences for those sent to the Australian penal settlements: 7 years, 15 years, and life. Gurney got the lightest sentence.

Eventually, Gurney was sent to work on a ship and by simply disembarking in Hawaii, he was able to start a new life. He became a cattle hunter, establishing himself in a hut on the slopes of Mauna Kea. Gurney had been on the island for years by the time Douglas stopped by for breakfast that fateful morning. What exactly happened to Douglas that morning may never be fully known, but whether his death was the result of a simple hiking accident or something more sinister, the lives of both he and Gurney effectively ended that day.