Forestry Tour One to Remember for Chinese VIPs
Last week COFI hosted a lively group of 25 enthusiastic builders and designers from China. Their goal over the seven day program was to learn as much as possible pertaining to the construction and design of wood buildings.
Ah, alas, day one of the program—the day to meet the group and form some first impressions. What will this group be like? Time would soon tell. The group arrived a little early and quickly found a seat and waited quietly for the building seminar to start. I quickly announced that the meeting would not start for ten minutes and welcomed them to help themselves to tea and coffee. Much to my pleasure, the group declined coffee and
went to the front of the room to examine the two wood frame mock-ups that were proudly displayed. Soft conversation quickly turned into a raucous conversation! YES!-these guys were on fire, practically pushing and elbowing their way close to the displays to take close up pictures. I knew then, this high-energy, inquisitive group would make the upcoming week extremely gratifying.
Who’s more spontaneous and passionate?
The week didn’t disappoint. The group’s intelligent questions were strong indicators that most participants possessed solid knowledge and experience before coming to Canada. The week had many highlights, one of which came about while having dinner with two very interesting men: Mr. Shi, President of Hubei Residential Technology Co. and Mr. Cai, GM of Suzhou Hanwei Wood-frame Engineering Co. They debated which of them were the most “impulsive” and “passionate for wood” in terms of quitting their prior interests to start a wood-frame company. Mr. Cai’s was a graduate of Canada Wood College and had worked for Crown Homes for a number of years before starting his own engineering and design firm from
scratch and with little money. Today he runs a successful company with thirty five staff. Mr. Shi, on the other hand, graduated from University of Toronto in computers when he was drawn to the news that Canada’s wood exports to China were growing exponentially. He tried to get involved in exporting lumber to no avail. He then went to China and applied for several positions with Canada Wood to no avail. His passion for wood led him back to Canada to learn about wood-
frame construction. He worked as a laborer with a framing crew and once he learned the fundamentals of wood-frame, he returned to China, started a wood-frame company and began leveraging his relationships with Chinese real estate developers.
Dreaming about wood:
A second memorable moment came from Mr. Yin, GM of Beijing Haide Wood House Company. He and his wife had been building log homes in China for ten years. One morning upon getting onto the bus Mr. Yin’s wife happily reported that her
husband dreamt all night about wood frame construction and about all the wonderful things he had seen and experienced so far in Canada. I asked Mr. Yin what specifically he dreamt about and he explained that apart from going over all he had seen and learned thus far, he was trying to figure out in his dream why Canada wood homes looked so well kept. He concluded that Canadian home owners actively work to maintain their homes, something which he says the Chinese have yet to do. He also related that he had been trying to figure out if weather or
air played a role. He said that he stuck his hand outside his hotel window to wipe the ledge to see if there was dust—and there wasn’t any, and then concluded that Canada is much less dusty and that the air is cleaner. Not exactly a revelation I thought, but I was fascinated that he was so probing and analytical.
Forestry Tour to Remember:
The most intriguing activity of the week was the forestry tour at Mission’s public forest on Sunday morning. Bob O’Neal, District of
Mission Forestry Manager greeted us at Hayward Lake Park and gave us a brief overview on the surrounding forests before starting our ascent up the forestry road to the active logging site. During our hike up to the logging site, we came across four animal trackers who were apparently called into the area to investigate some strange animal sightings. Bob explained that as a precaution the group should stay close together. We soon arrived at the scenic site overlooking the picturesque
Stave Lake. There, Bob introduced the group to sustainable forest management practices, tree species identification, and the harvesting process. But it was the hike down the mountain which got interesting. Now that the official part of the tour was over, a couple of the entertaining men in the group stayed behind the group and tried to imitate lion and bear roars—all in an attempt to keep the mood light. But soon we came across the
animal trackers again. But this time, the trackers were in the forest tracking something. Without invitation, we cautiously and as quietly as a group of twenty five tourists can be, tip toed into the forest to hopefully get a glimpse of some cool wildlife. Then we saw something, black, on all fours, foraging in the undergrowth. Then came the unearthly, primal growls and shrieks. This was more than some of the group
members were prepared for and they fled the forested area and ran back down the path toward the vehicles. The remaining, who were apparently following my lead, huddled together and continued to observe and snap away with their cameras. Curiosity got the better of us – and we pushed cautiously ahead – hearts pounding. Then, to my disbelief the animal stood up on two legs, we all froze. A mountain gorilla? Dare I say it, a Sasquatch? Now my obsession to get picture proof went into overdrive and I clicked away frantically. But my effort was short-lived as the animal, perhaps sensing our presence, retreated and disappeared into the thick of the forest.
As we returned to the main path, my Chinese friends asked me what it was. I
tried to explain what it may have been, but because they were unfamiliar with local folklore they could only presume they had seen a wild mountain gorilla, but for me, I knew I had witnessed a local legend. After returning home that night I “Googled” Sasquatch sightings in Mission and discovered that there had been three reported sightings recently. Make that four!