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SOOKE HISTORY: Behemoths of the woods

The Butler Brothers ‘pup trailer’
Kenny LaFoy poses in front of a Butler Brothers behemoths pup trailer. (File - Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers | Contributed

Most folks have seen logging trucks, as the loaded carriers regularly drive through Sooke on Highway 14, components of the logging industry of the west coast rainforest that has primarily fueled our economy for more than a century. However, not many of us have seen the Butler Brothers behemoths that were locally designed and built by an innovative group of men.

This Butler truck is legendary and was a source of pride to the men who worked with it. When Claude, Wally and Eric Butler began their logging operations in the hills of Sooke and Otter Point right after the Second World War, it seemed one of the company’s philosophies was innovation. Claude, the eldest brother, would initially commute by flying his Cessna from their base in Saanich to land at the small airfield, called Ardens’ airstrip, between Woodside Farm and today’s John Muir School.

The prototype for these behemoths meant for offroad-hauling was collaborated by Barney Oldfield and the Butler brothers in the early 1960s. As the trucks were tried out and their driving characteristics identified, a new model would be manufactured with the modifications experience had called for.


A particular modification was the addition of a double axel, giving greater flexibility on hairpin turns. The final masterpiece truck in the construction series, which towed a massive trailer called a “pup” behind, became known as the Mark V and carried 150 to 200 tons.

The photo shown was supplied by Dave Nelson and showed the trailer, or pup, with Dave’s friend Kenny LaFoy posed in front.

The Butler behemoths became internationally famous, the industry’s pride during the 1970s. They were driven only on private logging roads; obviously, they took up way too much space for regular highway use.

After the truck was loaded in the area west of Sooke River where Butlers were harvesting, they were driven on Butler Main, down to sea level at Sooke Bay to the booming grounds, where they were offloaded.

Many photos exist of these monsters, treasured by collectors. After the company had no further use for the massive log haulers, the trucks were dismantled and parts sold to other mechanically-minded outfits. Besides the photo collection, Sooke’s legacy includes a scale model of the Mark V built by former fire chief Steve Sorenson.


Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum. Email

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