Flashback Friday: Powell River Logger Sports, 1957

Competitor receives treatment after falling 60 feet during tree climb

Powell River News archives
Thursday, July 4, 1957
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5,000 attend show...

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Excitement galore at Lions July 1st display

Almost 5,000 Powell Riverites took advantage of warm weather and sunny skies Monday afternoon to turn out en masses to the afternoon of entertainment staged by PR Lions in their annual Dominion Day celebration at Willingdon Beach.

Between the car and girl beauty parade; rides for the youngsters; games for the adults and entertainment supplied by the Powell River High School Band; Magician Rudy Hayden and logging sports displayed by local timberjacks; the crowd was kept milling in circles from shortly past noon to just after 6 pm.

A girl and car beauty parade left Willingdon Beach at 12:30 and followed a route through Powell River, Wildwood, Cranberry Lake and Westview, arriving back at the Willingdon Beach at 1:30 where Reeve Ray Weaver officially opened the celebration.

Barbara Rawsthorne was chosen as the winner of the beauty contest by Vancouver judges Mr. and Mrs. Rudy Hayden.  Hayden, billed as the “cowboy magician” entertained with acts, and a band concert was performed by the Powell River High School Band.

Spectators watching the loggers sports got a little more excitement than they bargained for when Jim Curtis, PR Co. worker, fell 60 feet in the tree climbing race.

Curtis’ spikes slipped just after he had started to descend the 80-foot tree, and only his rope saved him from possible serious injury. Although he sustained badly barked arms as a result of the fall, Curtis entered in the log rolling exhibition and placed second, beaten only by John Thiesen.

A total of $250 in prizes were awarded to winners in the logging contests, with Don Johnson taking two of the five events.  Johnson, O’Brien Logging Co. faller, won both the tree climbing contest and the splicing race.

Johnson ran to the top of the 80-foot spar, grabbed a ribbon and came down the tree in 40 seconds flat to win the climbing duel.  Jack Jones, Walker Bros. and Chuck Forrest, O’Briens Logging, ran second at 46 seconds. Until the time of his fall, ex-logger Curtis was a strong contender in the race, gaining the top of the spar in 30 seconds.

Although his fall was broken several times by the rope around the tree, Curtis stated afterwards “It sure happened fast, and it seemed like I was at the bottom in record time.”

He was given “on the spot” medical treatment for his badly skinned inner arms and elbows by Dr. J.L. MacLeod.

Tree climbing champ Don Johnson also won the splicing contest, whipping in an eye splice in 1” wire in 3:04 minutes, 14 seconds ahead of second place Jack “Jesse” James, who finished his last tuck in 3:20 seconds.

Gordon Palliser took first place in the bucking contest as he powered his 7 h.p. chainsaw through the log in 54 seconds. Pat Behan ran second in 1:15 minutes and Perry Monsell came third in 1:34 minutes.

Cooperation of loggers attending the celebration saved the possibility of having to cancel the chokerman’s race because of lack of contestants. Loggers volunteered their services in the competition and filled out the list of contestants with a total of 10 competitors.

Chuck Forrest took first prize in the race after hooking the bell and toggle around a felled log in 7 7/10 seconds. Jack James placed second after completing his run in eight seconds.

The log rolling contest, performed without the benefit of the customary “pike poles,” saw John Thiesen remain “undipped” to take first place after burling contender Jim Curtis into the chuk.

The celebration was terminated with a tree topping display by Chuck Forrest who laid the top of the climbing tree directly toward the beach in a first class exhibition of “how it’s done” in local logging camps. Forrest brought gasps from the spectators when he slipped the rope off the top of the spar and sat cooly on top of the topped 80-footer after riding the swaying tree to a stop.

Don MacGregor, president of the Powell River Lions Club, thanked the public and the performers after the show had ended.  MacGregor said: “At this time, The Powell River Lions Club wishes to thank the public, and most heartily thank those loggers, entertainers, the Powell River High School Band and all those that helped to make this Dominion Day, a day that we, as Canadians, can so freely celebrate, a real success.”

Copyright © Powell River Peak


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