VMC LogoFrom Camp to Community: Cowichan Forest Life

The Communities : WHERE THEY CAME FROM : Europe

The Cowichan logging camps were a mixture of loggers from all over the world including many European's who came to make their fortunes. Scandinavians especially Swedish and Finnish immigrants, flooded into the camps after the First World War. Poor economies in their homelands mixed with fabulous stories of the North American logging industry brought large numbers of men to the Cowichan area. Most of the immigrants were young, single and from rural areas. The landscape and forest industry was similar to that of their Scandinavian homeland and many of these big, husky men excelled as buckers and fallers.

In April 6, 1946 the Canadian Scandinavian Club was formed in Lake Cowichan to preserve the traditions of the community. A hall was erected and they held dances and functions where women dressed in the national costumes. The hall no longer exists, but the Scandinavian community in the Cowichan is still vibrant.

The Scandinavians brought with them a history of unions in the logging industry and it was Finns who lead the Genoa Bay Lumber Company strike of 1918. Scandinavians dominated the early union meetings and were influential in the creation of a strong union in the forest industry of British Columbia.

The Cowichan Valley also had a large number of English immigrants, but few participated in the logging industry. Many were retired from armed service or from large families without the hope of spreading an inheritance to all the children. These people bought inexpensive farming land and became "gentlemen farmers". British settlers in the Cowichan Valley who clung to their somewhat imperial mannerisms were called "longstockings."

>>Click here to see the 1911 Census for North and South Cowichan