A Quick Autobiographical Blurb

For those many folks who don’t know who the heck I am:

From about 1969 until some time in the mid-70’s, I resided and worked at the Rayonier Logging Camp in Holberg.  While still in high school (NISS), I also worked summers for the Construction Engineering (CE) crew at CFS Holberg. I also volunteered at CFHG Radio as a “wannabe announcer.”  After graduating, I worked under the supervision of Percy Wong for the Rayonier Road Crew.  During those rather turbulent years, I developed quite an unfortunate notoriety regarding my powerful thirst for alcohol (But then…who didn’t in Holberg?) 

I could sometimes be seen foolishly trying my hand at drunk and “extreme driving”–in an old beaten-up grey VW Beetle and, later, in my brand new, but soon equally beaten-up Datsun 510–on and around the logging roads in the area.  I could also occasionally be spotted playing drums and accordion in a country-rock band at the Junior Ranks Club and Sergeants’ Mess at the base and Holberg Community Hall at Rayonier.  Those gigs were great except for the odd occasion, when the booze made my hands so numb that I couldn’t hold on to the drum sticks properly and one would suddenly go flying out onto the dance floor and nearly stab some partying two-stepper in her foot.

Occasionally, my drinking buddies and I would take advantage of all the opportunities for outdoors fun: after loading up with beer and whiskey, we’d hike the 90 minute trail to San Josef Bay.  Every time we did this, we made definite plans to camp the first night at “San-jo Bay,” then continue to Cape Scott the next day.  Unfortunately,  because of hangovers and petty teenage squabbles, we never once made it to Cape Scott.

Somehow, during those months of youthful silliness, I had managed to convince the Road Crew Foreman (Percy) that I would be a good candidate for promotion–from “cat swamper” to “cat skinner” (operator).  He and Gerry (the best cat skinner I’ve ever seen) had spent a lot of time and energy teaching me about work-ethic and taking pride in doing the best possible job.  Somehow, I had begun to grasp what they were teaching and was actually just a few months away from getting that promotion.

Isolation and loneliness had taken their toll, however: after what seemed like endless cold, wet, and difficult days of building road and training on the D8 cat; after an eternity of late night beer-runs into Port Hardy followed by idiotic driving stunts and miserable hangovers; after multiple months of “admiring” my bunkhouse room’s Penthouse centerfold “wallpaper,” I decided to take a restful vacation in Vancouver. As it turned out, that “restful vacation” ended up lasting for more than 35 years!

My NISS Photography Club Portfolio of Authentic Black & Whites

Some of us were members of the NISS Photography Club and somehow we managed to get a key to the darkroom. In between our many cigarette breaks (blowing smoke up the exhaust fan), we actually managed to develop a few rolls of film and make a few prints! Here are some that I just came across:


  1. leanne

    It was my grandfather, Barney Magnus (or Magnus Magnusson) who built the Elephant Crossing sign. He put it there so that I, when walking to my cousin Mindy’s house at the age of 5, would remember to stop and look for the “stampede of elephants” that might be crossing the “main road”, and I could avoid being trampled flat!

    • Gary

      Leanne, your background story behind the sign is awesome! I did not know it – although I think I do remember Barney. 🙂 Thanks for sharing it. Really, it is an important part of history!

  2. Bo Fred Olsson

    Hi Gary,
    I don’t know how long ago you launched this web site, but I certainly enjoyed finding it and seeing you again via video.
    You were a real “character” in high school, when I taught at NISS in 1970 and I’m glad to see you haven’t changed.
    Gordon Burleson and I had a lot in common with our interests in Ham radio, music, corny classroom jokes, etc.
    You have certainly filled your life with travel, work and a lot of higher education. It’s students like you that give us teachers the kind of feedback that makes us proud to have been a small part of your success. Congrats, Gary.
    The old shop teacher, Bo

    • Gary

      Thank you, Bo, for your comments and kind words! Looking back now, I think it’s nearly miraculous that I was able to do half the stuff I’ve done over the years. I may not have known it at the time I was being such a “character” at NISS, but you, Gordon, and many other teachers really laid a firm foundation and enabled me to eventually pull my life together. Thank you!! 🙂

      I started this site in about 2009. It was a simple html based site and about 4 years later, I converted it into a WordPress site. I’m just so thankful that the old Pinetreeline site was still accessible (via the WayBack Machine) and I was able to preserve the old photos. I’m also glad that I was able to revisit NISS in 2006 and take a few pics of my own.

      I don’t often check in here, so I am REALLY glad that I did today. Otherwise, I might never have seen your message. Thanks again, Bo!

  3. Sue

    I lived in Holberg from 1967 to 1973. My family lived on the base, my Dad worked for BC Tel. Holberg was a great place to live as a child. I spent many hours playing in the forest by the pmq’s, the river and exploring old trails by Mud Lake! I was 11 years old when we moved and I still really miss it! Holberg was paradise!


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