Bert Tress was born near Spillimacheen and started working for his father in the logging industry when he was just 10 years old.
Since then Tress has spent much of his life working different jobs but the one he kept going back to was hauling logs.
“We had a farm out in the valley. I worked after school and I would go and skid logs. My dad had a little saw mill and all of the work that came with it. We were peeling and packing ties most days.”
Tress explained during the Second World War, many boys, who were around his age, were working at different jobs because local men were overseas.
“We had to. The ones who were not old enough to join the army had to work,” he said. “I cut millions of cords of wood back then because all the neighbour boys were gone and people needed wood.”
In the beginning, Tress used a horse with a buggy in the summer and a sled in winter. This led to some interesting rides for the young boy.
“We had a steep hill to come down. We would put on our rough lock (a chain or rope fastened around the runner of a sled to slow its movement downhill) that would dig in all the way down in the ground on the hill. This one morning the ice built up on the rough locks and away we went.”
Tress said during the incident he was very worried about hurting someone on the team but he got the sled and horses to the bottom before the load tipped over.
“That is why I never took up skiing. I had enough wild rides and I didn’t need anymore.”
He started hauling logs in a truck for his father when he was about 12.
“My dad had an old truck and I used to haul logs from Bear Creek,” he said.
Tress said you could not get a license in those days until you were 14 but that never slowed him down.
“I guess when I was about 13, the owner of the mill in Parson asked my father if I could drive for him after his driver broke his leg. My father told him I didn’t have a license but he did not care,” he said.
Tress came into Golden and after a road test he was issued his first driver’s license.
“The officer said I could now drive legally because he knew I had been driving for my dad.”
Dealing with different types of danger while in the bush was also a challenge.
“We were out cross-cutting when lightning struck the tree next to us. You could feel your hair stand up. We were covered in bark because the electricity spiralled down the tree and peeled it off.”
As always he seemed to end up back behind the wheel of a logging truck even when he owned the company.
“Even when I had my own trucks with drivers I ended up doing it myself. I would drive in places where the other guys would not drive,” he said.
He remembers when his father had, what he believes, was the first power saw in Canada.
“They were not like power saws that we have now. They were heavy and awkward. They did save having to have another man on the end of the old saws though.”
Over his many years in the industry Tress has seen many changes in the business of logging.
“It is hard to believe the way it has changed. Now everyone sits in their machines and no one is out on the ground. It was a lot more personal back then. There was a lot of camaraderie back then while now it seems to be more of a rat race.”
Being involved in the industry for so many years has made it difficult for Tress to finally make the decision to retire, which he recently did at age 82.
“I loved being out in the bush. It was never boring,” he said.