This 1925 view shows Ed and Jack Phillips with their double bitted axes doing the undercut on a Douglas-fir that was substantially smaller than the one we have written about.

The story of the Port Renfrew Hotel bar

The demise of a large fir tree gave life to hotel's bar

If you’ve been in the Port Renfrew Hotel since it was rebuilt after the 2003 fire, entering through the lounge, you’d have noticed a spectacular slab of Douglas-fir, welcoming the hotel’s bar patrons.  Measuring 22’ 4” long, 30” wide and 4”deep, it is a showpiece.

Almost a decade ago, I was one of a group standing watching the falling of the seven-foot diameter Douglas-fir that stood as a sentinel at the entrance into the beginnings of the Sun River development on the old Phillips farm.  Years ago, a team of fallers would have used a two-man crosscut saw to fell a tree of such a size, but with the use of power saws in recent times, this stately Douglas-fir presented a different sort of challenge.

Troy Lovbakke was one of the fallers given the task, and he worked in tandem with Lance Lajeunesse and Bud Beam. The men started with 33” bars on their Husqvarna saws, moving on finally to saws with 52” bars. The belts of the high riggers could not encircle the bulk of the tree but they managed to get a steadying anchor cable in place to secure it from falling across Phillips Road.  A pneumatic jack was used as well but could not withstand the weight. Finally two 40-ton screw jacks were required for the tree to be laid down safely in an area so near to a public road and houses. It was near nightfall by the time the gigantic tree came down with a resounding crash.

None of us bystanders knew the next step in the route ahead for the centuries-old Douglas-fir. Bucked into lengths, the tree was trucked to Mike Warburton’s mill on Otter Point Road. While some of the tree was conk, as feared, much of the lumber was likely used in construction and we’re not certain where those lengths are today.  We do know that Mike used a six-inch double cut saw 24-feet in length to shape the slab specially ordered by the hotel to be cut from this massive old-growth specimen.

While no longer towering aloft, this section of the Douglas-fir lives on today, still a prize of the rainforest as it attracts the attention of hotel guests, its patina showing off the fabric of its grain – a bit of our West Coast culture still.

 

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

 

Just Posted

Wind warning in effect for Greater Victoria

Strong winds could reach up to 80 km/hr along coastal areas

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington for the day

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, “high avalanche danger”

Whisky society commits to charity donation in wake of whisky raids

Refund of Victoria Whiskey Festival tickets won’t impact charity beneficiaries

Victoria housing provider launches crisis prevention program to combat homelessness

Pacifica Housing aims to address challenges before tenants risk evictions

Victoria wins crucial WHL contest over Giants in Langley

Royals take over second in B.C. Division ahead of Vancouver

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Vessel washed ashore in Campbell River during last night’s storm

A vessel appears to have gotten loose and washed to shore on… Continue reading

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

WHL winning streak ends at four in Kelowna for Victoria

Royals lose 8-4 as Rockets explode offensively

Wind warning back in effect around Vancouver Island

80 km/h winds expected Saturday, Jan. 20, on east coast of Island, 100 km/h on west coast

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

UPDATE: BC Transit’s handyDart service strike in Victoria delayed

LRB application by contractor means new strike notice must be issued by union

Most Read