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Ex-logger recalls Vancouver Island’s War in the Woods in new memoir

Author Bruce Hornidge shares behind-the-lines view in ‘Loggerheads’
Bruce Hornidge with his memoir, Logger Heads. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Thirty years after the War in the Woods in Clayoquot Sound, career tree faller Bruce Hornidge’s memoir of events, Loggerheads, has hit the shelves.

Bruce Hornidge was born in 1948 in Belleville, Ontario, an Air Force “brat” growing up where his father was stationed in Gimli, Manitoba and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Hornidge finished school in 1967 and joined his brother Brian at MacMillan Bloedel’s Kennedy Lake logging division at Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

He was still working as a logger when the “War in the Woods” hit Clayoquot Sound: a series of blockades and protests against clearcutting that drew worldwide mass media attention.

In Loggerheads, published by Saskatchewan’s Endless Sky Books, Hornidge writes from the unique, sometimes humorous and even irreverent point of view of one of the many loggers on the west coast whose forestry careers were cut short on the other side of the demonstrators’ picket lines.

“For a decade, the issue of forestland use in British Columbia raged like a forest fire,” Hornidge writes in the opening pages of Loggerheads. “Starting small, it generated smoke and mirrors and a world media hype that came to hang like a stalled hurricane over a tiny, beautiful corner of the world known as Clayoquot Sound—and the largest act of civil disobedience in Canada to that date.”

After more than two decades harvesting, Hornidge says he was “loggershamed” as a “tree-killer” and faced soul-searing losses of identity and livelihood, part of the human fallout of the inevitable move away from a resource-based economy.

“My goal was a story that is truthful, personal, and encompasses many of the issues in this complex problem,” Hornidge says.“Three decades after The War of the Woods, we know what happened, and we’ve been told why. There’s a lot we were never told.”

Loggerheads received a warm review from Bill Arnott, author of the Gone Viking series and A Season on Vancouver Island. “Part treatise, part manual, part eco-memoir, Bruce Hornidge’s Loggerheads is a timely, timeless read for lovers of trees,” Arnott says. “Richly shared in crisp prose, this book stands as a sentinel evergreen to the nature and industry our forests provide.”

After losing his job as a logger in 1997, Hornidge became a security guard in Campbell River, Vancouver and Vanderhoof, British Columbia. Bruce and his wife, the Rev. Minnie Hornidge, live in Glen Williams, Ontario. There, Bruce gardens and knits. And writes.

Hornidge will be back on the west coast of Vancouver Island this week for a few reading events, starting with a stop at Electric Mermaid: Live Reads at Char’s Landing in Port Alberni on Wednesday, Oct. 25. The event begins at 6 p.m.

On Thursday, Oct. 26, Hornidge will be holding a meet and greet plus book signing at Mobius Books on Argyle Street, starting at 10 a.m.

Hornidge will also head over to Ucluelet on Saturday, Oct. 28 for a reading and signing at the Ucluelet Community Centre from 10 a.m. to noon.

Loggerheads is available from most bookstores, online and off. It can also be purchased directly from Endless Sky Books or Shadowpaw Press.

READ ALSO: Long-awaited logging report to shape response to B.C.’s war in the woods

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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