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Lesson Plans
Logging Camps

Logging Camps

Grade Level

  • Grade 11 & 12

Main Idea

Logging camps were a popular place for men to work in the 1900's. Even though there were long days, dismal resources and tasteless food, men poured into the area because the jobs were endless and wages were better than what other occupations offered.

Subjects Covered

  • English Language Arts 11 and 12
  • Social Studies 11
  • History 12


Students will be able to describe:

  • The economy in the early 1900's
  • What the working day consisted of in the 1900's
  • The general operations of a logging camp

Teacher Notes

No prior knowledge of logging camps is needed to successfully present this lesson plan.


  • "Early 1900's" handout
  • "Camp Life" handout
  • "Reading Questions" handout
  • "Student Assignment" handout
  • "Logger Lingo" handout


Cook Shanty
A building were a cook would prepare meals for a logging crew
Men who saw down trees.
Men who work the horse the haul logs out of the forest.


  1. Distribute the "Early 1900's" photo to each student.
    1. Do not tell class what the photo is of.
  2. Give students 5 minutes to analyze the photo and write down their thoughts.
  3. After 5 minutes take comments from students regarding the photo. Their thoughts of what it is and what it means.
  4. Once discussion is over have students put away the "Early 1900's" handout so they can not see it.
  5. Distribute the "Camp Life" handout to each student and have them skim over the reading.
  6. After reading the "Camp Life" handout, have students look at the "Early 1900's" handout again.
  7. Ask students if their view or knowledge of the photo has changed. If so, discuss how and why.
  8. Divide class into groups of 2 or 3 and hand out "Reading Questions" to each group.
  9. Once each group has answered all the questions have a class discussion on each question.
    1. The importance of logging camps.
    2. Economy of the early 1900's.
    3. Hours the men worked in the logging camps.
    4. Temperature.
    5. Have each group present their "Logger Lingo Slogan" to the class.
  10. Distribute "Student Assignment" handout to each student. Have them choose one of the two topics to report on.


Holm, David. Oral History of Jim and Margaret McConaghy. Canada: College of New Caledonia, 2003.

Roberge, Earl. Timber Country. Idaho: Caxton Printers, LTD, 1973.

Work in the Nineteenth-Century in Forest Industry. National Museum of Man: NO 46, 1983.

Where Two Rivers Meet.

The Exploration Place.

Early 1900's


Early 1900's

Answer Key

The kitchen, dining, bunk house, and office of Logging Camp #2 at Horseshoe Hill on the long road to Shelley.

Camp Life

As logging became an important aspect in the British Columbia economy in the early 1900's, lumber companies came rushing into the area. In order for these companies to succeed they needed large crews who where willing to work away from any type of civilization. To accommodate these crews lumber companies needed to construct lumber camps that would provide crews a place to eat and sleep.

Accommodation at the camps consisted of make shift cabins with poor ventilation and no resources such as electricity. Clothes did not dry and men had to bring their own bedding. Men would have to sleep on bunks crammed into one room, there could be from 6 men to 20 men in one area with bunks against the walls. At one end of the cabin would be bunks and at the other, a small wood stove. Wires and ropes dangled from the ceiling for drying clothes that where washed when ever people complained about the smell. A bunkhouse would consist of fallers or teamsters, who "reeked with horses". Most men were used to every kind of smell imaginable.

Men standing in front of a wood building with a canvas roof amongst stacks of

All camps had a cook who would have their own cabin, most often called a "Cook Shanty". Here the cook prepared meals for the men and slept. McConaghy from Shelley states that the food was "wholesome" and "basic". He goes on to say "if you had a good cook in camp, you had good food." Cooks would rise about 4 am to prepare breakfast and lunch for the crew. The crew would gather in one building and eat breakfast together in silence. Most men wanted to savor the quiet time in the breakfast shanty before heading out to the logging site. Lunch was packed with the men to the site where they were working, as it was usually a long hike back to the camp from the work site. Supper was the big meal and was usually served late at night around 7 or 8pm. Soon after supper, men would be off to bed to rest for another long day ahead.

Men a Seebach Creek, 1924.

The weeks and days where long for the crews. Sometimes it would be months before a crew would go to town for a couple of days. Work started when it was still dark, men would wake, eat breakfast, harness the horses and head out to the worksite. Most men worked in 3's, one man who would fall the trees, one to buck and limb and the other to skid logs to the landing site or to the river. The main goal of every crew was to beat the records from the day before, to cut more trees and make more lumber. The work schedule consisted of logging in the winter, milling in the summer and survival during break up and freeze up. Work did not commence after it was "25 to 30 below... it wasn't hard on the men, it was hard on the equipment." There was always work for men due to the abundance of sawmills in the area. McConaghy states that "if you left a job you could go into town and get another one before you walked the length of the Princess Theatre."

A group of surveyors in front of a log cabin.

There where no women in logging camps unless there where family quarters set up. It was only then that women and children helped with the cooking and cleaning, other wise it was the men cooking and cleaning. Sunday was a day to play, men would dance and play music according to their cultural background.

Prince George was a busy place during break up as men from all over would come to relax, spend money, and have time with their families. Loggers had a reputation of speaking, smelling and dressing differently and most people stayed away from them.

Wages paid in the earlier years may seem unrealistic today. In 1920 a sawyer may receive 50 cents per hour, 5 cents or less for teamsters, camp help and clean up. A foreman may receive up to $125 per month. These wages would change and by the time the depression hit, wages where cut to 22 cents per hour. Considering prices of everyday products such as bread and milk wages where not as bad as they seem.

Reading Questions


  1. Why did logging operations set up logging camps?
  2. If a foreman made $120 per month, why was that considered to be a good income in the 1900's?
  3. How often did men get to go to town?
  4. When was the only time men did not have to work in the logging camp?

Student Assignment

Choose one of the following two questions.

  1. Pretend that you are a logger in the 1920's.
    1. Research prices from the 1900's on the following topics. This can be done through readings, websites and old issues of The Citizen.
      1. Activities
      2. Food
      3. Rent
      4. Gas
      5. Clothes
    2. Create and compare a budget of today's prices and wages of the above topics and those from the early 1900's and compare. What are the biggest changes and what contributed to these changes.
  2. Write a 500-700 word essay on life in a logging camp using at least 5 terms from "Logger Lingo"

Logger Lingo

Ace in the hole
loggers love poker.
Alabama wool
cotton underwear.
Ask for time
Axel grease
Back to camp
following a strike or a shut down, going back to work.
Back up to the window for his paycheck
someone who does so little work he's embarrassed to take pay.
Bait can
lunch bucket.
Balloon it
pack and leave camp.
Barbwire deal
tough problem or situation.
Boiling dishwater
to determine how cold the weather is, throw boiling dishwater outside. If it freezes before hitting ground, it's cold.
Bone Butcher
company doctor.
Bow his back
refuse to do a job
who cuts felled trees.
Bull Cook
besides a cook, also does odd jobs.
Bull of the woods
could be one though man in camp, or the boss.
Bunch the job
quitting without warning.
Camp lawyer
logger who has to argue about everything.
Can opener artist
poor cook, only slightly better than a belly robber.
Chicken crap outfit
crummy logging show.
Cookie pusher
Crooked elbow
caused by leaning against too many saloon bars.
Dog robber
camp cook, who feeds everything to loggers, has nothing left for dog.
Draw day
Draw your time
your fired.
a man who cuts down trees.
Family show
logging operation run by an old man and his sons.
Fish eyes
poorly cooked tapioca.
Give' er snoose
feel in the power.
Gunny sack show
haywire operation.
Gut heater
Haywire job
do anything the cheapest possible way.
Kitchen Mechanic
Like a handful of ants
everything in confusion.
Little bull
foreman either too young or lacking experience, not respected by his men.
Monthly insult
Nosebag show
camp where midday meal was taken to the woods in lunch buckets.
One-donkey show
very small operation.
Pass the 44's
pass the beans.
Quick like a cow
clumsy, two left feet.
really bad coffee.
Walk the bugs to death
turn shirt inside out so lice must walk to front to get in.
War department
a wife.

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