Video: Campbell River Mirror editor Alistair Taylor produced this video on a Labour Day 2013 operation of the Steam Donkey, something the museum does every year.
“Woooo woo – one long and one short – and that meant lunch time. So everyone would drop their gloves and head for the donkey engine.”
Arthur “Bill” Mayse told his story shortly before his death and recalled fondly waiting for the engineer to blow his whistle at 11:30 a.m. signaling lunch break. The loggers would gather around the steam donkey with their nose bags, which is what they called their bagged lunches, and enjoy some fresh “donkey boiler coffee” prepared in the steam donkey’s boiler.
Steam donkeys were used in the logging industry for yarding, hauling and loading logs. The Museum’s Empire Steam donkey was manufactured in 1916 in Vancouver and worked in Knox Bay, Hardwicke Island, West Thurlow Island and other locations until it was abandoned in Knight Inlet in 1948. It was moved to the Museum site in 1994, and in 1999 a project began to restore the donkey. After five years and hundreds of volunteer hours, it was restored to working condition.
On Canada Day at 11:30 a.m. the Museum at Campbell River invites you to bring your nose bag and gather for a picnic around the steam donkey, which will be “brought up to steam”. Coffee will be served loggers’ style. This is a free public event. The Museum at Campbell River is located at 470 Island Highway. For more information contact the Museum at 250-287-3103 or go to www.crmuseum.ca.