HISTORY’s brand new series Big Timber takes a look at the the dangerous work of logger and sawmill owner Kevin Wenstob as he and his crew go to extremes to keep the family sawmill, and their way of life, alive. Kevin’s logging a remote timber claim high up the steep, rugged slopes of Klitsa Mountain, deep in the majestic heart of Vancouver Island. It’s home to some of the best wood in the world and Kevin’s making a big bet to get it. Here are 5 things we learned when talking to Kevin and his partner Sarah.
What are you most excited about for audiences to learn about lumbering?
Kevin: Oh boy – excitement? I don’t know if I’d say “how fun it is” because that wouldn’t be the truth. It’s really about being able to succeed through a big challenge, and I’d like our story to be inspirational for audiences. That’s what I would really like to see.
Sarah: I think I’m most excited for the viewer to see what it takes to work in the logging industry. For them to see the processes and challenges that it takes to go from forest to finished product, and how our company finds its niche in that value added product.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about lumbering?
Sarah: I think the biggest misconception is that it is all operated by these huge corporations. When in reality there are so many small players in it. Watching this show is seeing what some of these small players have to go through to get that wood – right from extracting that timber to the saw mill production. It really does come down to the fact that this is part of our history in Canada, that this is what the logger does and it’s an honourable job that they do.
Do you have a favourite type of wood, and what do you usually look for?
Kevin: Red cedar is our favourite wood here, because it’s easy to work with and it doesn’t rot – it lasts for a long time. It’s also a very beautiful wood to look at, and it’s also our most desirable wood for retail. Fir would be my second choice, also because it’s a beautiful wood and structurally easy to work with.
Sarah: I think the wood that we harvest, which is mainly red cedar, yellow fir and hemlock — each one is individual in their own right. Depending on what your project is and what the customer requires, you’re finding out which wood is best for them and what best material would work for their project. Each species of wood definitely has its own niche.
Do you have a favourite machinery that you think is very cool, that you get to use?
Kevin: I generally use all of the machinery we have, but the chainsaw is a pretty incredible piece of equipment. Because back in the old days, you would use an axe or a crocket saw. But what a chainsaw can do, with just a little bit of gas, you could do multiple things – from cutting to carving. It’s a dangerous piece of equipment if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Sarah: My favourite machinery is the excavator, because it can do such a multitude of jobs. And also, excavators can replace the function of other machines if they break down — which they do a lot!
Kevin: Yes, an excavator is going to do all types of crazy tasks that you aren’t going to do by hand, from building a road to using it at the sawmill to loading the trucks with the wood. With the excavator’s hydraulics system, you can add all sorts of attachments to it and really use the machine for all different types of tasks and jobs. It’s a really versatile tool.
What do you think is the best part of what you do in lumbering?
Kevin: What I like that most is having a job where you can work together with people, and you all have a common goal. We are all out there together, getting these logs, working together and trying to get the job done. We all get satisfaction in being able to do this, and we know the product well. Having a team with a common goal is what is really fulfilling.
Sarah: I find that talking to the customers and learning about what they need for their projects is that aspect that I enjoy most. Just developing those relationships with the customers. So many of our customers are repeat, where I see them every month or year –0 they come to us with their new projects, and we help them find what they need to get the job done.
Big Timber premieres Thursday, October 8 10EP on HISTORY.