Logging History Comes Alive at Kaatza Station Museum


With just one look at the majestic and lush wooded landscape of Vancouver Island, you know the forests have stories to tell.  How did the early settlers cut these trees, before the chainsaw was invented?  How did they move the massive fallen trees to a sawmill?  What was life like for those pioneers?

The logging industry is integral to the Island and its stories are well-told at the Kaatza Station Museum and Archives in Lake Cowichan.

Your Trip Back in Time Begins in a 1913 Railway Station

To walk through the Museum’s door at the 1913 Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway Station in Lake Cowichan is to step back in time.

See what lake life in the 1920’s was like through an award-winning twelve-foot mural.  Picture yourself in the routines of a pioneer’s life with the Museum’s displays of a store and post office.

Feel what is was like to enter the first grade nearly a hundred years ago when you visit the Museum’s 1925 school house on the grounds.  An exhibit inside helps you imagine being a student there in the 1940’s.

Glimpse into the logging business details through documents and artifacts from more than 50 forestry-related companies, including Bald Mountain Logging, Crofton Export Company, Deakin Sawmill and Mt. Sicker Lumber.  Take a look at working conditions at the mine shaft exhibit and logging display.

Railroads were an important part of the commerce and culture of the day and the Museum has several pieces of rolling stock outside, to help you imagine the time when the railroads were a primary form of transportation.  Envision the cinders flying from the 1927 locomotives from Shay and Plymouth; examine a hard-working log car and dream about seeing the landscape from a 1916 caboose.

Wilmer Gold Photo Collection

In 1902, Wilmer Gold was just nine years old when he had a life-changing experience:  he took his first photograph.  At 41, Gold was already an accomplished photographer when he moved to Vancouver Island in 1934 with his wife, Margaret and son, Holt.  He focused his commercial photography business on the Island’s logging industry, even creating a portable developing lab modified from a Willys’ Overland chassis that he pulled behind his car.

Gold’s work appeared in the era’s most popular magazines, including Look, Life and Time.  His book “Logging As It Was” documented the lives of loggers and the industry’s evolution on Vancouver Island.

The Museum has several Gold photos on display and is digitizing its collection of about 1,000 Gold photographic negatives.

Open Year ‘Round

The Museum is open daily during the summer (May through the Labour Day weekend), from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Its winter hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday.  Admission is by donation.

Plan the rest of your visit with an historical and recreational map of Lake Cowichan and books about the area, available in the Museum’s gift shop.  Send the story of your vacation back home with postcards and pins depicting the Lake Cowichan region.

For more details about and news from Kaatza Station Museum and Archives, visit http://www.kaatzamuseum.ca/

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Amazing Vancouver Island and a clickable link back to this page.

Publisher of Amazing Vancouver Island. Doug grew up in Kamloops and Vancouver. He is also the President of KIAI Angency, an Internet Marketing and Branding agency in Vancouver. He is an avid photographer and you can see his many pix of Vancouver Island on Flickr.

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