Logging has been the biggest industry on these islands for many years. Before the coming of the White Man, the Haida people used the forest , cedar trees were a basic part of their sustenance. As far back as 1909, the early white settlers, while clearing land for Graham City (now Masset) used all suitable timber to make ties for the railroad making it's way into Prince Rupert.
In 1917 the superior quality of the islands spruce was discovered. Early day aeroplanes were constructed from wood. The lightness and strength of the Sitka spruce along with it's fine grain was perfect. Mosquito bombers from the Second World War were also made with the Sitka spruce.
Surrounding Masset Inlet were over 14 logging camps and the Government issued permits for people to log anywhere regardless of former timber claims. Davis rafts, a massive design of logs and cables would be towed across to the mainland. These rafts could be as long as 560 feet and contain 2 - 21/2 million feet of log, with more than half the contents under water.
The 1920 -1930s were years of the small independent loggers. Most had camps on the southern end of the islands. They usually built their camps on rafts so the entire camp could be moved from location to location. Logs were transferred to the water by A-frames, coal decks, and sky-lining methods.
The J H Baxter Pole Company worked around this area, first at Ferguson Bay, then Mayer Lake, and lastly on Kumdis Island. They extracted poles and used a "Tug-a-way" to transport the timber to the water. They would later return in1960 to the Mayer Lake area to harvest poles, using trucks this time to move the wood. Baxter Pole Company must be commended for their logging methods for they left the area relatively unspoilt unlike the majority of logging operations.
Juskatla, located at the mouth of the Mamin River on Juskatla Inlet and approximately 13 miles by road from Port Clements, would play a major role in logging of this area. Known as B40 camp, it was originally built in Queen Charlotte City in 1940. After about a year of operation the camp was split and the remaining portion being moved by rafts to its present location.
Pacific Mills only ran for about a year before being taken over by the Crown Corporation Aero Timber. The purpose of the take over was to produce high quality Sitka spruce to manufacture air frame and wing parts for the DeHaviland Mosquito Fighter Bomber. During the 1948 war assets disposal the entire operation, timber holdings, and equipment was put up for bid. Powell River Company bought Aero for a bargain basement price of $90,000, this giving them not only Juskatla but also the operations at Cumshewa Inlet. For the next 10 years they would log the area, amalgamating with MacMillan Bloedel in December of 1959.
Machinery has evolved from cross cut saws and axes to the modern day chainsaws, steam donkeys replaced with high powered diesel engines. The old ways of "cut and get out" methods of logging have been replaced with careful conservation methods thus ensuring an endless supply of timber for future generations.