BY DAN SHIRLEY
It was a family affair at the Ear Falls Seniors Centre last Saturday as local author Bruce McCallum launched his new book, Memories of the Chukuni Lumber Company.
The Chukuni Lumber Company dates back to 1944 when Dr. Charles ‘Bud’ Galway purchased the Snake Falls sawmill from Charlie Keetch of Red Lake. In 1945, Hugh McCallum, the author’s father, was hired to manage the mill. The company moved to Ear Falls in 1954 and was eventually sold to Colenso Lumber in 1969. While the site has long since been closed, there is talk of restarting it.
Born in Red Lake and raised in Snake Falls, Bruce McCallum spent over 20 years contemplating a book about the company. It wasn’t until he found a picture of a 1953 Chukuni picnic that the book became a reality.
“I came across that photo and sent it to Ear Falls. I thought that it would be of interest to people there. A woman in Ear Falls took it to the Seniors Centre and it was passed around.”
As interest grew in the picture, McCallum began putting his project to paper.
“I started writing up a timeline as I remembered details. I sent it out to people in Ear Falls. I began collecting phone numbers and making a mailing list. We would pass things back and fourth. The timeline kept kind of stretching out.”
What makes this book unique is that it is something far less static than the historic accounts of a lumber mill. It feels more like the living testimony of families that went on to become important contributors to the development of Snake Falls.
“There was a sense of community from the people coming out of Snake Falls. They went from a community of around a hundred people to perhaps 300 people and they dominated Snake Falls.”
Adding to this sense of family are a number of local anecdotes that lead to an intimate perspective on the community. McCallum and friends shared a number of these stories at the book launch including, Right Between the Eyes, the story of how a three-year-old McCallum was shot square in the head with one of Roger Larocques’ homemade arrows.
While it remains to be seen if the book will catch the interest of a wider audience, McCallum feels as though success though has already been had.
“The launch yesterday was an affirmation of success I would say. We had quite a few people come out and I sold out of the books I had on hand. So it has already accomplished most of what I tried to do. If it finds a wider audience then that’s kind of a bonus.“