Cabin Builders on Hollyburn Ridge (1930's) by Hal Plumsteel
My memory takes me back to the late 20's on Hollyburn Ridge. Cabins were being built by the dozens. We slept in an old deserted shake cabin while we built our log cabin.
James Nasmyth had used the trees on the west side for cedar shakes and shingles. East side Shields was operating its flumes and railway taking cedar shakes and shingle bolts too. In 1930 we found dozens of shingle bolts left behind and in good shape. We cut these bolts into shakes for our floors and roofs. Thick shakes for the floors and thin ones for the tools. This helped us greatly.
The McDonald and Lawson Creeks still had log trestles across that were over 90 feet high. One fearless lad would run across the bare logs while the rest of us crept upright or down on our hands and knees. Our cabin, the Circle 5, was built by five chums. There was a cluster of five cabins close together. These were the "Smokehouse," "Doghouse", "Circle 5 ", "Buccaneers", and "the Musketeers." The three large cabins would have 6 to 8 persons, and the two small cabins 3 to 5 persons each on weekends. This meant a group of over 30 boys and girls (some sisters and others girlfriends). All would party Saturday night at the large cabins or travel to Hollyburn Ski Camp for dances. Later the number of visitors grew and we doubled the size of the Circle 5 cabin. Sunday would find us up on the slopes skiing. Early winters, we could ice skate before the snow deepened. Only half our group had steady jobs after the Big Depression started in 1929. This was not important to us as we were living at home and were just through school. Those not working steady could spend more days enjoying cabin life and doing chores.
The offices and trades usually finished the week on Saturday noon, while retailers had to work until 6:00 p.m. This gave those in stores a very short weekend. Once a winter, cabins on the Ridge held a dance at the Lodge Hall that later became Fergusons Storage on Marine Drive, west 01 22nd Street. Here we danced till midnight before starting up to our cabins. For a while there was a Roller Rink by the Ferry Dock to coax us in. Some of the loads we packed were so large the Vancouver Street Car conductors refused to let us board. We would have to wait for a near-empty car. At the north end of Columbia Street, we embarked on the West Van Ferry. This boat trip was usually calm in the Harbour but often rough sailing at First Narrows to the West Van dock. The winter logs were a real problem too. I can still see us going below in the bow, packed like sardines. We sure trusted the ferry crew with our lives. Often we saw killer whales. After arriving at Ambleside Dock we usually walked Marine Drive to 22nd Street and stopped at Allysons’ General Store on the S.W. corner. Here we got items we forgot, from potatoes to carbide and candles. We walked up 22nd and the trail started at the top. On rare occasions we had to use one of our old cars to take up bed-springs, stove and pipes etc. This meant traveling by North Van Ferry or Second Narrows Bridge. The cars of the 20's and 30's were prone to dampness getting into the electrical parts. We would remove the distributor cap first and dry out with a small paper fire. One weekend we found dozens of cabins broken into. Our Circle 5 cabin lost 5 pairs of skies and ice skates. After this a patrol was started by Scotty Finlayson, who later patrolled the Lions Gate Bridge and ended with the West Vancouver Police. We paid 25¢ per person, per week for this.
By the latter 30's the Depression was still on. Couples were planning marriage and no city jobs available. One at a time, fellows left for far away jobs.
In our Circle 5 cabin, Fred McDonald left for the Butedale Cannery up coast. His brother, Bill McDonald, went to a ranch in the Cariboo. Grant McQuarrie left for the Ocean Falls Paper Mill and Bill Fleming departed to McBride to work for C.N. Railway. I was the only one left and very unhappy at losing my close pals. But marriage changed this and I gave the Circle 5 to five younger fellows I knew.
At our 1995 Summer Reunion on Hollyburn I happened to meet the third group of Circle 5 owners. I showed them snaps of the original cabin and they talked about the changes they made to it. This was the highlight of the Reunion.