Capital and Labour in the British Columbia Forest Industry, 1934–74.


258 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-7748-1307-5
DDC 338.1'74909711






Reviewed by David Mardiros

David Mardiros is a lawyer and anthropological consultant in Kars,


The forest industry, the engine of the British Columbia economy for much of the 20th century, has had a profound effect on the development and maintenance of numerous communities, large and small, in Canada’s westernmost province. It has also had a profound influence on the development of the particular culture of labour relations in this region. This book describes the social and economic history of forestry as an economic powerhouse, from its infancy during the Great Depression through the growth of the forest industry unions and the boom years of the 1970s.


The central theme of the book, the description and analysis of a period marked by the development of standardization and mass production, the growth of large corporations, unions, and mass consumerism (otherwise known as the “Ford Era”), is woven through the various topics discussed. Corporations, the state, and unions are the subjects of separate sections of the book, and there are also interesting chapters on union politics, the nature of work in the industry, and technological change. The concluding chapter describes the effects on the industry of the rise of the environmental movement in the 1970s and the tensions that developed between environmentalists and the labour movement.


While the wide variety of topics covered as well as the considerable variety in sources consulted will appeal to those interested in labour relations and history, the focus on social issues will also make it of interest to a wider audience. In particular, the discussions of wage discrimination against ethnic minorities (the norm until the 1940s) and the struggles of women to overcome many of the paternalistic attitudes of employers (and unions) that raised barriers to female employment in the forest industry are both very well presented. It is easy to forget how much has changed in British Columbia, and this book allows the reader to experience some of the tensions, struggles, and successes experienced by organized labour during a defining period in the province’s history.


Hak, Gordon., “Capital and Labour in the British Columbia Forest Industry, 1934–74.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 25, 2024,