Sunday March 18, 2012

 

 

 

Entertainment

Springboard Boards

Foot-stomping rollick through forestry history

Released by Anne Goodsward, CACC

 

brilliantly executed musical paying tribute to the Bulls of the Forest, BC loggers. Good Timber, a magnificently unique and entertaining show that has been thrilling audiences all across British Columbia, will be coming to The Cultural Centre on March 29 at 8pm.

The incredible performers from The Other Guys Theatre Company, in partnership with the Royal BC Museum, have created a wonderfully original show that treats us to a spectacular foot stomping voyage into the past with mind blowing stories and songs capturing the exciting life of the west coast logger.

These legends of the forest have been well preserved for us in the poems by “The Bard of the Woods” Robert E. Swanson. Brilliantly transformed into song these tough as nails lumberjack stories captured by Swanson are shown to us with the fantastic music and the physical humour on stage.

 

The sensational music sets the mood for this important time in our history, with 22 songs, many of which are adapted from Swanson’s poems, which range from folk to country and celtic to jazz. They create a unique blend of energetic upbeat songs and somber ballads that are passionately performed by the phenomenal cast which includes Kelt and Colleen Eccleston from the popular folk trio The Ecclestons. Audience members can easily imagine themselves as one the personalities living and working in the woods or camps of this by gone era.

 

Included in the show are the rarely seen photos from the BC archives of a time when men performed life threatening maneuvers to harvest the giants of the woods, captivating our imagination. Once thought to be the craziest job in the world, Good Timber thrillingly portrays the men who worked in some of the most remote areas of the world. Immortalized in this great fun for the whole family production, life in the woods is shown to us both in the logging camps and also in the new towns that are buried deep in the BC wilderness. Stunning images arranged to show the un-named logger up close, gives the production a magical feeling of nostalgia for a simpler time.

 

The stuff of legend in the coastal forests, chokermen, fallers and hi-riggers were the rough and tumble Bulls of the woods, becoming the real-life Paul Bunyans of the West Coast forests. Whether they were driving a loaded logging truck down a steep grade, standing at the top of a west coast pine, or chopping away at a 22 foot based fir tree with a single axe, these men had nerves of steel. Rugged loggers with forceful characters set themselves apart from the average man, making their stories the subject of many a forestry legend and barroom tale. Robert E. Swanson captured these stories spectacularly in his poems, documenting his time in the forest industry as logging was undergoing major changes.

 

With an extensive forestry career, both as a logger and as a forestry inspector, the poet Swanson visited every mill operation and logging camp on the coast and spent long evenings conversing with the legends of logging.  In the 1930’s he started writing down their stories and ballads becoming one of BC’s bestselling poets, hugely popular in the 1940’s and 50’s. Preserving the history of the West Coast with his poetry Swanson’s talent as an inventor can be seen in the famous Gastown Steam Clock in Vancouver. 

 

He also created a special horn for trains used all over the world, and pioneered the development of air brakes for logging trucks. An expert on steam trains and their whistles he was a key player in the restoration of BC's famous Royal Hudson excursion train. With a lifetime of contributions to the forest industry Swanson left us an amazing legacy showcasing his love for the breathtaking wilderness that surrounds us, still relevant in today’s world.

 

THAT WHISTLE IN THE NIGHT

 

Oh diesel queen of the glittering rail,

Pride of the streamlined train,

Your throbbing pistons rule the grade

Where once was Steam’s Domain.

The iron horse has spent his day,

Now fades his thundering might;

But diesel, diesel save for me

That whistle in the night.

 

Silence forever – if you must –

The roar of steam and fire.

Let soulless men be satisfied

With the growl of a diesel flier.

The clanking rod and roaring stack

Forever fades from sight;

But diesel, diesel save for me

That whistle in the night.

 

Oh, let me hear that plaintive wail

Across the lonely plains,

Or hear the snow-clad peaks fling back

The voice of the thundering trains.

Then in my soul there stirs a peace

That tells me all is right;

So diesel, diesel save for me

That whistle in the night.

 

                                   Robert E. Swanson

 

 

This lively musical masterpiece Good Timber, is a treasure of BC history that pays tribute to the tough people who built this province working in our important forest industry. Witness and marvel at the sheer courage of these outdoorsmen as they tackled spectacular environments and massive obstacles all set to great music and theatrical performances. This show sold out last year at the Royal BC Museum, come see this brilliantly entertaining show and celebrate the incredible loggers that built this province.