Jack James was ready for another afternoon of “whistle punking”, or blowing the whistle to signal the steam donkey at McLean Mill National Historic Site, when his fellow loggers ambushed him.
James was instrumental in getting the steam donkey and heel boom rebuilt so they could be used in public demonstrations. He leads a team of former loggers and self-proclaimed logger-wannabes at the mill. On Sunday, they showed him how much they appreciate the work he does by presenting him with a print of the steam logging operation.
The original is a watercolour by Ladysmith Michael Dean, and it depicts James and a fellow logger guiding the heel boom as it loads a log onto a McLean Mill vintage truck.
James started his logging career as a spark chaser at the age of 12, during the worker shortage in the Second World War. Early on he was a whistle punk—and has returned to his roots to do the same job for the steam donkey display.