The History Squamish Days Loggers Sports
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The Rich History of Loggers Sports


This year marks the 60th annual Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival. Started as a one-day loggers sports show in 1957, Squamish Days fills the BC Day Long Weekend with community cheer. But the history of Loggers Sports is bigger than one weekend in the summer. 

The Festival is a celebration of the rich story of the forestry industry in Squamish, one of innovation and invention, forged from incredible hardships and challenge.

Loggers Sports Guide 1968- Photo: Loggers Sports
Loggers Sports Guide 1968- Photo: Loggers Sports

The Rich History of Forestry

Cultures Built with Logs

Timber extraction in the Sea to Sky began long before the first Europeans arrived. The Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh) people used towering cedars to construct their longhouses, and carved dugout canoes out of single trees.

Evolution in the Industry

In the late 19th century, the majority of logging was done by horse or oxen, these overworked beasts pulling heavy logs on makeshift skid roads down to the Squamish River, where the wood floated down to the Howe Sound and was sorted for further transportation.

Horse Powered Logging- Photo: Squamish Archives
Horse Powered Logging- Photo: Squamish Archives

As technology advanced, so did the efficiency, range and scale of the logging shows. Steam donkeys (steam-powered winches) allowed for quicker yarding of logs, and eventually led to high lead logging, a system still used to this day.

Steam Donkey located in the current Valleycliffe area- Photo: Squamish Archives
Steam Donkey located in current Valleycliffe- Photo: Squamish Archives

Large-Scale Machinery and Logging

Large-scale logging got underway with the introduction of railroads, and tracks were built to access the forests around Brohm Lake, and the Garibaldi Highlands area.

Another major advancement was the rubber tired logging trucks of the 1940’s. Combined with diesel-belching cats pushing roads into unexplored valleys and untouched stands of old-growth timber, these changes ushered Squamish into a prosperous logging era that would shape the area forever.

Road Building- Photo: Squamish Archives
Road Building- Photo: Squamish Archives

The techniques of the loggers slowly evolved and adapted to this dynamic and incredibly dangerous environment, and changed with the technology.

Inherent Dangers

Crosscut saw skills faded with the introduction of the chainsaw, and log-birling prowess was lost to the tugboats that drove huge booms of logs down waterways.

Log Boom, 1950- Photo: Squamish Archives
Log Boom, 1950- Photo: Squamish Archives

Mechanical towers called yarders negated the need for “high climbers”, those athletic daredevils that would climb, limb, and top towering trees to be used as spar poles.

High Climber Bill Turcotte in his gear- Photo: Squamish Archives
High Climber Bill Turcotte in his gear- Photo: Squamish Archives

Much has changed in the logging industry over the years, but the importance of having honed skills has not because having these abilities is what keeps forestry workers alive.

Loggers Sports Pays Homage 

Showcasing the Skills

Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival has celebrated these forestry skills for 60 years.

The timed Tree Topping race pays homage to the dangerous and very skilled trade of the high climbers, while the Hand Bucking event highlights the crosscut saw, a timeless tool for falling trees and bucking logs.

Photo: Loggers Sports
Al Boyko competing in the Springboard Chop – Photo: Loggers Sports

Harold and Thor Halvorson, longtime Squamish locals, introduced the Obstacle Pole Buck to the Canadian Logger Sports lexicon in 1970. 

It’s an event combining balance, chainsaw skills, and full out sprinting with said chainsaw in hand, and is a crowd favourite to this day.

Obstacle Pole,1985- Photo: Loggers Sports
Obstacle Pole,1985- Photo: Loggers Sports

Timber Queen and Beast Pageant

While the main Loggers Sports events have been showcased at Squamish Days for 60 years, there have been other crowd-favourite festival events.

The Timber Queen Beauty Pageant was a mainstay for many years, featuring lovely young ladies from the Squamish area.

Timber Queen Pageant, 1986- Photo: Loggers Sports
Recognize any of these ladies? 1986- Photo: Loggers Sports

The lesser-known Timber Beast Pageant was a shorter-running male-only pageant. This man-challenge was paired with a beard-growing contest, with prizes for fullest/longest, best groomed, and most unusual. As one could guess, both pageants (and the beard contest) aren’t featured in the 60th annual event this year.

Timber Beast Pageant. Photo: Loggers Sports
Beastly, indeed. Photo: Loggers Sports

Bicycle races in the form of short course criterium were introduced in the early 80’s, the spandex and road bikes a slight departure from the flannel and chainsaws of the Logger Sports grounds.

Events of the past- Photo: Loggers Sports
Events of the past- Photo: Loggers Sports

Bed Races and the history of Loggers Sports

Another unique Squamish Days event is the Bed Races. Just like it sounds, it’s a race, through obstacles, with beds (they’re on wheels).

Started in 1976, the event is a perennial crowd favourite.

Bed Races Downtown Squamish, 1981. Photo: Squamish Archives
Bed Races Downtown Squamish, 1981. Photo: Squamish Archives

Other lesser known events over the years include a watermelon eating contest, a demo derby, pajama shopping (deals at local businesses if you were wearing your pajamas), and a tug o’ war. 

An Essential Squamish Experience

This rich history of technological advancement in the forests of BC underscores the importance of an event like the Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival.

Time-honoured logging practices are celebrated here, traditions that played a large role in shaping the Sea to Sky.

Pole Climb- Photo: Loggers Sports
Pole Climb- Photo: Loggers Sports

The logger sports events are a thrill to witness, as men and women compete at the highest level in front of a raucous crowd.

For 60 years Squamish Days has paid tribute to the athleticism and fine craft of loggers sports and celebrated the community that has helped to shape this area.


We found some video published by the Squamish Historical Society. Enjoy!


Joe Schwartz

The author Joe Schwartz

From hucking to hillclimbing, Joe has run the full gamut of the mountain bike spectrum. He currently resides in Squamish; riding singletrack, skiing powder and reminiscing about the good old days. Read more at www.joeschwartz.ca
Tags : HeritageLogger's SportsloggingSquamish Days

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