Day 107 - Bruce (2nd person I approached)
April 18, 2014 - Bruce and his wife were in town from Kamloops so that his wife could attend a medical appointment. We chatted while he waited for his wife. Bruce was born in Kamloops, British Columbia (BC). Before starting Kindergarten, Bruce’s parents moved to Ashcroft BC. HIs father was a Forestry Ranger and had relocated the family for work. He has one younger brother. Bruce went to elementary and high school in Ashcroft. His high school didn’t have a Grade 12 class, so Bruce roomed with an Aunt and Uncle in Kamloops while he completed high school.
“It was good. I didn’t mind making the move. I mean, Kamloops is only about an hour away from Ashcroft. At 16 years old, you’re kind of willing and eager to start putting some distance between you and the parents. It was a good move,” Bruce tells me.
After completing high school Bruce stayed with his Aunt and Uncle and went to college in Kamloops.
“I was always good at Maths and Sciences in school. I went to college to get the grades and classes I needed to go to University. I was thinking about going into the Faculty of Forestry at UBC (University of British Columbia). I needed certain classes in Maths at first year university level, and some second year level sciences,” said Bruce.
He worked for a delivery company that made deliveries for Eaton’s and Woodward’s department stores. While in college, Bruce came to the conclusion that UBC was an expensive venture, and he didn't want "to live in the city." He decided to go another route.
While working a summer job, Bruce found out that the Department of Forestry were hiring and all one needed to do was go in and write a test.
“It was a straight forward test. Two parts, in one you had to show your geographical knowledge of the Province of BC. The second part was testing math skills. I passed the exam and jot a job,” said Bruce. He was a member of the forestry ground crew, or “slave to all, master of none” as Bruce says, laughing.
“It really was a varied job. Some days it was taking inventory of a stand of trees, or determining land boundaries. Sometimes it was estimating the volume of trees for a company buying from Crown lands. We helped out with grazing rights and sometimes just went along on visits as an extra body. We helped out with fire-fighting activities when needed as well. It was the best hands-on training I could have gotten. Nowadays anyone going into forestry will have a different experience. People get hired for much more specific jobs. I learned a lot more than I could have ever learned through University, “ say Bruce, with a satisfied look.
Bruce spent 35 years working in forestry. Before retiring in 2007, Bruce was running the forestry fire-fighting aviation division.
“I made sure that the resources were available and that plans and processes were in place. It was one of the most satisfying jobs you could have. You got immediate feedback. If you were successful, and 90 percent of the time we were, you got immediate feedback. And if you weren’t successful, you also got immediate feedback. No two days were ever the same,” he said.
Bruce also made three trips to Central and South America as a consultant. He told me,
“I went to Brazil to consult on their newly established forest fire division. They knew we have a great reputation here. We went to help make plans that would work for them, based on the equipment they had.”
Bruce and I talked about the feeling of driving past an area of forest that he had helped to save, and how rewarding that felt. He asked me
“How many people can honestly say they enjoyed everyday at work, for 35 years?” Not many. Bruce is a third generation forestry worker. His grandfather worked in forestry for 35 years. His father did some 30 years and Bruce’s younger brother is approaching his 40th year, all in forestry.
An avid sports fan all his life, Bruce has had to give up playing ball and hockey, owing to a bad knee.
“I’ve curled since I was eight years old. I still do that, though with my knee I don’t know for how much longer.”
Bruce is a voracious reader, telling me
“I’ll read anything. It’s relaxing, the forest is serene and reading is another way to find that quiet.” Bruce and his wife like to keep busy.
“We have children and grandchildren that we spend a lot of time with. And we travel extensively as well. I’ve been to 42 countries and six continents. A lot of people spend their money buying toys. I buy memories.” #notastranger