The Camps : THE BUNKHOUSES
Youbou Mill bunk houses
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The bunkhouses are where the loggers slept and relaxed after a hard day in the woods. They were generally small buildings and without privacy - the loggers in the bunkhouses got to know each other very well. A typical bunkhouse was about forty feet long and fourteen feet wide and would house eight loggers in bunk beds. They were built with skids so they could be moved from camp to camp, first by train and later by truck. The quality of the bunkhouses varied greatly. Some were poorly ventilated, dark rooms with one wood stove for a cramped forty men while others were luxurious with four men sharing a steam heated room with desks, windows and lights. At the McDonald & Murphy Camp in Lake Cowichan, the bunkhouses were converted rail passenger coaches, bought after the E & N Railway stopped service to Lake Cowichan. The most sought after camps had washrooms and hot showers in the bunkhouses, but these were rare.
Bunkmates became a community for loggers, who typically lived away from family from camp set up in the spring to the long sleep in winter. The loggers were busy, working six days a week and would relax in the bunkhouses when finished, playing poker with friends, whittling wood or writing letters home. Long wooly underwear and socks would be washed in tubs in the bunkhouse and hung to dry but the pants, shirts and coats would not be washed often. These would become stiff with dirt, tree pitch, oil and grease and protected the loggers from rain. A wood heater would offer warmth in the bunkhouse during the colder months and a place to dry wet clothes.
The camps generally provided blankets and sheets and a bull cook would make the beds during the day when men were working. Loggers had a nominal amount taken off their pay to live in the bunkhouses; in the 1920s it was about fifteen cents a day for rent. The higher bunks were the most sought after by the loggers. A logger on the lower berth might find himself awakened with a shower of forest debris every time the man above them moved!
Logger reading Time magazine
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As with the cookhouses, the bunkhouses were racially segregated. A camp might have separate bunks for the Japanese, Chinese and Sikh crews. These men worked together, but lived apart.