Logging has an extensive history in the Pemberton Valley. Ever since the 1850's when the gold rush trail passed through the Pemberton area, the local woods have been logged. During that time the local forests were logged to get materials for the boats that carried prospectors and their supplies along nearby lakes, and for the thirty-three bridges between Douglas and Tenas Lake.
From then on logging has continually been a part of life in Pemberton.
The first settlers in the Pemberton valley had little choice but to begin logging. When they started arriving in the late 1800's the whole valley was covered in trees, so before they could begin farming they had to clear their land. With the rudimentary tools available to them this task was very difficult and would often take several years to complete. The lumber from land clearing was used in a variety of ways, including building houses, barns, root houses, as well as for fence posts and fire wood. Early farmers had to use the resources that were available in the valley as bringing anything in was very difficult.
In 1905 the first mill in the Pemberton area was set up. Two men from Lillooet, Duguid and Hurley, brought a 23,000 lb saw-mill outfit into the valley to complete a contract to provide lumber for the fish hatchery at Pemberton Portage. When they had completed this contract they packed the equipment out again. Until 1914 when the railway arrived building the fish hatchery was the biggest project that was done in the valley.Once the railway was completed the potential for a large logging industry in Pemberton was opened up, and within fifteen years it was well under way. There were many tie mills and pole camps in the area by the thirties. The logging industry attracted many new settlers as well as providing work for the farmers who already lived here.
During the 1940's and the 1950's a lot of changes happened in the way that logging was done. New equipment became available, allowing for logging to be done on a larger scale. Horses were replaced by machines and manual saws by chainsaws. The design of chainsaws improved rapidly between the late 1940's and the early 1970's, saw decreased in weight by half and became much easier to use.
The Valleau logging company is a good example of what a typical logging operation in BC looked like in the later half of the 20th century. It was a family run business that did quite well for most of its existence. Everett Valleau, along with his seven sons founded it in 1955. Despite the harsh weather and isolation they were quite successful because of the ready demand for BC timber. The Valleau operation ran out of Whistler for its first twenty years, from 1955-1976, and then moved to Pemberton because of conflicts with the ski industry.
From the early 1990's to the early 2000's the trend in logging was that the large multi-national companies moved in and put the smaller family-run companies out of business.
Today there is very little logging happening in Pemberton. The days of large scale logging are over, and the few operations that are still around are reminiscent of the small family-owned companies of the 1950's, 60's and 70's.