Dr. Rick Rajala

Dr. Rick Rajala
Emeritus Professor and Adjunct
Department of History
Office: Cle B226

BA, MA (UVic), PhD (York)

Area of expertise

Canadian. Environmental and labour history


British Columbia environmental history, with thematic interests ranging from leisure, sport and tourism to the labour history of resource exploitation.


My primary focus is on the social, political and environmental history of Canadian and American forests, with a particular emphasis on British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.  Topics include the way that technologies, managerial structures, and worker resistance shape the labour process, the labour movement in the woods, the relationship of science to the making of forest policy, the ecological impact of modes of production, and the shifting fortunes of timber-dependent communities.  Recently, I have devoted attention to the scientific, technological, and policy dimensions of forest fires in the Canadian context.  Another recent study interprets the history of forest exploitation on BC’s central and north coast.  I am currently researching the timber industry’s impact on salmon habitat in BC, and the forced labour of unemployed workers in provincial forests during the Great Depression.  My next project will explore the history of tourism on Vancouver Island.

Curriculum Vitae

Selected publications


  • Up-Coast: Forests and Industry on British Columbia’s North Coast, 1870-2005 (Victoria: Royal British Columbia Museum, 2006).
  • Feds, Forests and Fire: A Century of Canadian Forestry Innovation (Ottawa: Canada Science and Technology Museum, Spring 2005).
  • Clearcutting the Pacific Rain Forest: Production, Science, and Regulation (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1998).
  • The Legacy and the Challenge: A Century of the Forest Industry at Cowichan Lake (Lake Cowichan: Lake Cowichan Heritage Advisory Committee, 1993).

Scholarly Articles & Chapters

  • “‘Streams Being Ruined From A Salmon-Producing Standpoint’: Clearcutting, Fish Habitat, and Forest Regulation in British Columbia, 1900-45,” BC Studies 176 (Winter 2012/13), pp. 93-132.
  • “‘Nonsensical and a Contradiction in Terms’: Multiple-Use Forestry, Clearcutting, and the Politics of Fish Habitat in British Columbia, 1945-70,” BC Studies 183 (Autumn 2014), pp. 89-125.
  • “‘This Wasteful Use of a River’: Log Driving, Conservation, and British Columbia’s Stellako River Controversy, 1965-72,” BC Studies 165 (Spring 2010), pp. 31-74.
  • “From ‘On-to-Ottawa’ to ‘Bloody Sunday’: Unemployment Relief and British Columbia Forests, 1935-1939,” in Framing Canadian Federalism, eds. Dimitry Anastakis and P.E. Bryden (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009), pp. 118-150.
  • “Forests and Fish: The 1972 Coast Logging Guidelines and British Columbia’s First NDP Government,” BC Studies 159 (Autumn 2008), pp. 81-120.
  • “‘No Camp Large or Small Will be Missed’: The IWA and the Loggers’ Navy in British Columbia, 1935-1945,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 97 (Summer 2006), pp. 115-125.
  • “A Political Football: The History of Federal-Provincial Cooperation in British Columbia Forests,” Forest History Today (Spring/Fall 2003), pp. 29-40.
  • “Pulling Lumber: Indo-Canadians in the British Columbia Forest Industry, 1900-1998,” British Columbia Historical News 36 (Winter 2002/2003), pp. 1-3.
  • “The Vernon Laboratory and Federal Entomology in British Columbia,” Journal of Entomological Society of British Columbia 98 (Dec. 2001), pp. 177-188.
  • “The Forest Industry of Eastern Canada,” in C. Ross Silversides, Broadaxe to Flying Shear: The Mechanization of Forest Harvesting East of the Rockies (Ottawa: National Museum of Science and Technology, 1997), pp. 121-156.
  • “Clearcutting the British Columbia Coast: Work, Environment and the State, 1880-1930,” in Making Western Canada: Historical Essays, eds., Jeremy Mouat and Cathy Cavanaugh (Toronto: Garamond Press, 1996), pp. 104-132.
  • “A Dandy Bunch of Wobblies: Pacific Northwest Loggers and the Industrial Workers of the World, 1900-1930,” Labor History 37 (Spring 1996), pp. 205-234.
  • “The Forest as Factory: Technological Change and Worker Control in the West Coast Logging Industry, 1880-1930,” Labour/Le Travail 32 (Fall 1993), pp. 73-104.
  • “The Receding Timber Line: Forest Practice, State Regulation, and the Decline of the Cowichan Lake Timber Industry, 1880-1992,” Canadian Papers in Business History 2 (1993), ed. Peter Baskerville, pp. 179-209.
  • “Bill and the Boss: Labor: Labor Protest, Technological Change and the Transformation of the West Coast Logging Camp, 1890-1930,” Journal of Forest History 33 (Oct. 1989), pp. 168-179.
  • “Managerial Crisis: The Emergence and Role of the West Coast Logging Engineer, 1900-1930,” Canadian Papers in Business History 1 (1989), ed. Peter Baskerville, pp. 101-128.

 Other Publications

  • “Forced Relief,” Legion Magazine 75 (Sept./Oct. 2000), pp.34-36.
  • “The West Coast Salmon Rush,” Legion Magazine 74 (Nov./Dec. 1999), pp. 25-27.
  • “The Evolution of West Coast Logging,” Legion Magazine (Nov./Dec. 1997), pp. 36-38.


HSTR 101B History of Leisure, Tourism and Sport in North America
HSTR 230B Canada Since Confederation
HSTR 324C British Columbia in the 20th Century
HSTR 325 Environmental History of BC
HSTR 428A Environmental History of the North American Forest