From The Logging Camps (5)

This continues the scrapbook Dad made for me about Port Renfrew, B.C., entitled “Forest Regeneration” (ca 1939-1940).1 Earlier posts under “From The Logging Camps” described our family life in this remote spot on Vancouver Island.

Hemmingsen-Cameron Company Ltd. was co-owned with my grandfather, Matt Hemmingsen (1876-1967). Inklings as to previous and next owners can be seen through link under the Shay locomotive.  

Page two, below, begins to discuss camp operations and equipment. Logging trucks and bunkhouses were shown previously. Of course, we would have not gotten in an out of civilization but for our tugboat “Fairbanks” and the government vessel “Princess Maquinna.”

Hemmingsen Family Collection at © 2018

Page 3 is subtitled “Some logging scenes – Woods and Beach – 1939-1940s” and will be delivered in snippets.

Hemmingsen Family Collection at © 2018

Hemmingsen Creek was named for Grandad. Still a boy in 1887, he left Hattfjelldal, a town in  Nordland County, Norway, for  Mason, Bayfield County, Wisconsin.2 He was called from WI to BC about 1906,  to break a historic log jam on the Tsolum River, and the rest is history.

The snaps below are large and ungainly on site, but only so, can detail be appreciated. So strange to show black and white, for it is Port Renfrew, where green is a scent. A scent on a soft touch of  moss or a sharp needle of fir.  It is where creek melds to river that runs out to sea. Where the noise of the forest can be interpreted as quiet and that quiet is consumed by the sea.

Hemmingsen Family Collection at © 2018

Specifications for the Shay can be found at

They indicate for a “3-PC-13 Pacific Coast class of Shays that Lima built towards the end of logging loco era and that both Shays (there is another, below)  went to Hemmingsen-Cameron Co. 1 October 1936.”After that, logging trucks like that featured in thumbnail above,  were the way forward. 

Note: the lettering on the Shay over Hemmingsen Creek continued to read “Cathels & Sorenson”. It was unlikely to be stolen and Grandad was humble.

Convergence for Descendants:  Fuel capacity is noted at 5 tons of coal.4 Grandad James Dickson (1882-1869) would have been busy at the same time, assuring that the coal was resourced safely, as Chief Inspector for Mines, for BC. 

We challenge the younger generation to ponder how 5 tons of coal and 3000 gallons of water were boarded on the train.4

Hemmingsen Family Collection at © 2018

Look closely above the tree line, second next.

Hemmingsen Family Collection at © 2018
Hemmingsen Family Collection at © 2018
Hemmingsen Family Collection at © 2018

It is not clear what part Uncle Bill’s axe played in felling that tree. It may have just been for clearing the path that day.  He and the crew were reviewing operations  and taking pictures. With an excellent camera, it seems. One can only imagine the energy expenditure of the loggers, and understand, that even a day just walking through the dense forest would be difficult for most people. Must be the reason for the meat house, which will follow in another post. Matt, and his sons, John and Bill were enormously strong. They did the work. (William Buchanan Hemmingsen (1915-1985)

Nicholas C  Rossis reminds me to yell  TIMBER!!!!! Well, but the tree was already down! Not considered funny when deep in the woods.

Hemmingsen Family Collection at © 2018
ptRpg3dcopyrightMarileeWeinforJohnHemmingsen2018 (2)
Hemmingsen Family Collection at © 2018
Hemmingsen Family Collection at © 2018

Note: The dark loco above,  lettered HC Co Ltd, for Hemmingsen-Cameron is at the log dump.  According to Richard Henderson “Those white poles that appear to be a trestle under the Shay are actually pilings in the water and in part, help manage the logs after they are dumped into the water. The A-frame object in front of the locomotive is actually a log unloader and is powered by the small steam donkey (skidder) mentioned. The ones used to drag logs via sky-lines were larger and at the loading point, where logs were put onto the train cars; this photo is the unloading point.” 3

Dad noted that in the wet season, the rivers became torrents.  He went on recount that my big brother John was swept into the rushing swollen San Juan and that my mother saved him.  Logging was a dangerous profession, as well, were its environs. Grandad had lost his younger brother, Harry, to a logging accident in Wisconsin as well as a half-brother to drowning. Those stories will be told.

We shall await the next installment of “Forest Regeneration”, on the calm waters shown above.

Left: Hemmingsen-Cameron Co. Ltd. operation at Port Renfrew, B. C. in 1940 – and in 1990 when our family revisited the area – 50 years after they replanted it for forest regeneration. For additional posts on HEMMINGSEN LOGGING HISTORY in northwestern Wisconsin, on Vancouver Island and in Newfoundland CLICK HERE

Notes and Sources

1 John Oliver Hemmingsen (1913-2008) authored this scrapbook. All postings and pictures are © 2018 The Hemmingsen Family Collection. Posthumously published at this blog under its copyright,

2 The National Archives of Norway, the Digital Archives Trondheim politikammer (1) Emigrantprotokoll V 23.07-25.04, 1880-1882//SAT/A-1887/1/32/L005 for Hemmingsen, Ole p.205/239 in 1882 (2) Emigrantprotokoll VII 03.07-22.03, 1885-1888// SAT/A-1887/1/32/L007 (2i) for Mathis., Berit with Einer, Marie and Harrold in 1886 p.78/190 (2ii) for Olsen Henrietta and Mathias in 1887 p.177/190

3 Email conversations with Rick Henderson of June-July 2018.

4 Information at

Please scroll below to comment etc.

17 thoughts on “From The Logging Camps (5)

  1. Interesting.I know your shade of green, good writing! We have it today after horribly hot weather. The trees and fauna are today saying AHHHHH! Intestinally we have a book your Dad made for us, think it has different pictures and slightly different stories. I will get your big bro John to dig it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your words,”where green is a scent. A scent with a soft touch of moss or a sharp needle of fir. It is where creek melds to river that runs out to sea. Where the noise of the forest can be interpreted as quiet and that quiet is consumed by the sea.” bring me sense of peace and calm. I don’t even need to close my eyes to feel the Pacific Northwest. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi GP I don’t know what the protocol is, to recommend a post from one reader to another where there appears no contact page, so, I found an old comment from you, to reply to. As it only shows up on my page, no pressure. Renaissance Ann is a meticulous genealogist whose father was military. Here she analyzes old photos to find her Dad’s story, which may assist lots of your readers, with old data in hand. In fact, her stuff shows how to manage a horde of military findings. Marilee

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your write ups on your Grandfather Matt Hemmingsen and family . At a time when the history and memories of the accomplishments of those who came before us is being forgotten . Your reflection of logging in the San Juan Valley is welcome reading . I have pictures I have taken and collected in the San Juan Valley . If you would like copies I could Email them to you .


    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments. I agree. We are in a time when the value of the family dinner table is much diminished, such that the valuable lessons of our forebears are not being shared or sought. To our peril; understanding how they came through their times would help abate the awful aloneness expressed by the present generation amongst our billions. I take it you are of the San Juan Valley; if so, lucky you. And I love your “Camptramp”. I have plenty pictures of the area, but will keep you in mind, should I need another specific.


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