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Munson and Simpson Sawmill in Lake Country

The donation of historic photographs by Pete Simpson to the Lake Country Museum has led me to examine the circumstances behind the building of a sawmill in Winfield in 1927. These photographs were of the Munson and Simpson mill located on the Beaver Lake Road.

For background, I consulted Sharron Simpson’s book Boards, Boxes and Bins: Stanley Simpson and the Okanagan Lumber Industry. Stan Simpson of Kelowna needed a secure supply of lumber for his applebox-making operations. Simpson writes:

 In 1925 Stan went into partnership with Fred Munson, who owned a sawmill in Ellison…. [Fred] had the practical experience running a sawmill that Stan lacked. Munson’s sawmill was little more than a makeshift shed covering a steam powered saw that used waste slabs and sawdust to feed its boiler.

When the timber supply in Ellison became depleted, Munson and Simpson moved operations to Winfield, where they built an upgraded sawmill. The sawmill was designed to make knot-free “shook” for apple boxes and very large logs were sought after for that purpose. An ample supply of pine logs was found in Fir Valley and hauled to the mill at the base of Beaver Lake Road.

The following photograph indicates the size of log that could be milled at the Winfield sawmill as well as the technology employed.

The Winfield mill utilized a range of log sizes. In the Pete photograph below one can observe smaller logs, as well as the conveyor taking sawdust to a bin, to be used as hog fuel for the steam engine.

By 1929 the large dimension log supply in Fir Valley was depleted so Munson and Simpson moved their mill to Hydraulic Creek in East Kelowna. The Winfield mill apparently had a two-year life.

 

 

 

 

By Dr. Duane Thomson

 

 

 

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