The Crosscut-Telegraph Cove

A Brush with Henschel columnist Gordon Henschel discusses The Crosscut

The Crosscut was painted in 1980, another painting I recently drew from my “archives” that brings back reams of personal memories of an era when Telegraph Cove was a sawmill.

I won’t go into the history of The Cove here since it’s so easily obtained in detail on the internet, but give you my impressions of those days when, if you wanted the finest lumber available, you went to The Cove.

Eric Vinderskov was the manager for many years and the lumber was dried in the building that now houses the pub and the restaurant. We were building our own home in McNeill during 1975 to 1977 and I remember getting pre-dried cedar boards and planks 20 feet long and 10 inches wide with not a knot in them! The Gikumi was hauling this kind of lumber to villages all over the coast.

The Cove was usually full of logs ready to be hauled up for milling. As many as 60 people lived in The Cove and families such as the Vinderskovs and the Farrants raised their kids here.

I remember asking some of them how they liked The Cove, thinking that it was very restrictive lifestyle. They all said they loved it, commenting on how much fun they had with all the secret passageways under the buildings as well as all the things the ocean had to offer!

After about 1979, the mill was having a hard time economically: old equipment had to be replaced, it became harder to get good employees, the new road from down-island was bringing in more competition, etc. It shut down for a little while until several of the old employees tried to get it going again until in 1981 they packed it in.

Telegraph Cove, through a series of huge changes, was eventually to become a tourist mecca. I know most of you are familiar with The Cove, but it is amazing how familiar it has become to the general public.

I was in a store in Comox one day, talking to a young lady who wanted to know where I was from. “Port McNeill”, I replied. “Oh‚“ she asked,

“Is that near Telegraph Cove?”

“The Crosscut” in the painting was a saw that cut the boards into their proper lengths after the huge main saw did the ripping. Just outside of the exit of the mill was a huge planer that smoothed out the rough lumber and behind it was a never-ending plume of smoke where they burned the remains. That was only 34 years ago!

 

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