The Cedar Story

I often have musing time while the carpenter measures. So I think about various things and while working with cedar it has given me plenty to ponder over.
Though commonly called a cedar, it does not belong to the scientific family of trees that are classified as “true cedars”. Western red cedar from Thuja plicata, is soft red-brown, aromatic, decay-resistant wood, used for outdoor construction, shingles, and guitar-making (don’t think we’ll take that up!). Western Red cedar is native to the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada – we bought ours directly from a mill in the lower mainland.

An old cedar tree in Vancouver – Stanley Park is full of them.
The soft red-brown timber has a tight, straight grain and few knots. It is valued for its distinct appearance, aroma, and its high natural resistance to decay.Thujaplicin, a chemical substance, is found in mature trees and serves as a natural fungicide thereby preventing the wood from rotting. This effect lasts around a century even after the tree is felled. However, thujaplicin is only found in older trees. The experienced roofer who did our garage, was very impressed with the quality of the wood and we are thankful to Dave Szydlowski for the lead on purchasing this direct from the mill. For its weight it is quite strong but can be brittle as we are finding with the century old material we are removing from the house. We believe that if the shingles and siding had been properly cared for over the years they would have been good to go with another coat of paint. Of course then we would have had to rip out the inside to the studs and insulate from there so I suppose this worked for us.
The info above is from Wikipedia as I didn’t really know that much about cedar except they used it 100 years ago to side houses and make cedar chests. I certainly didn’t know the part about the guitars.I think doing a school report these days is a lot simpler than when we went to the library and found books, took notes and then hand wrote it out and drew a picture! Wikipedia just helped me do the whole thing complete with a photo!
I do know that I love the hue of cedar – the variety in the boards is endless and quite incredible. It goes from a rose color to black but along the spectrum it shows as blond, cinnamon or muted red. The patina it develops after a year or two is a very distinct silvery grey. If we ever built a cabin (no that is not in the works!) I would definitely side it with cedar and leave it unpainted as it ages so beautifully. We have chosen to paint ours and are using a product called Sikkens Rubbol Siding Stain. I find it amazing that it goes on the cedar with such even coverage despite the different colors of the individual shingle.

This shows the 2 year old cedar shingles on the garage and the color they turn after a rain storm.

This photo shows the color range of the new shingles – sitting on a 94 year old shingle. Quite the color ranges!
When we were taking off the second floor section of shingles we found 3 pieces of shingles that had writing on the back of them. I then started looking for them as we pulled them off in hopes of finding one totally intact piece but no luck on the two sections we have done but there are 5 more sections to look in. In the meantime we have pieced them together and it states
Barclay Shingling Mills Ltd.
XXX Clear
Port Hardy BC

The Port Hardy doesn’t come thru on this one but it is intact on the bottom of a different one.
My initial Internet search hasn’t turned up anything specific to this company but I have found a couple of companies milling shingles in Port Hardy at the correct time. It’s interesting that their product branding was directly on the product. I also have the current product info – it comes on a piece of paper in every bundle of shingles and the bar code can even be read by my IPhone4S (that is if I knew how)!

It is interesting that their company copyrighted the ? name ? in 1963 (top left corner) and that the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau has been the authorized authority since 1915.
So this blog might seem like a random tangent direction for me to go but I went there. My closing thoughts about cedar are that the colors could certainly inspire a Bargello quilt with those beautiful hues.

I have included a picture of a Bargello quilt so that you can appreciate the beauty of it and see how the colors of the shingles would work so well. IF only I could sew every day!!.
I will close with a little preview of what we have been doing on the “hard” side over the last 10 days that it has taken me to do this blog entry (I wrote it while we were just starting the second floor shingles – took me that long to get back to the computer and get the pictures uploaded from the iPhone and the camera and then to find them!

This photo shows the kitchen attic wall on the final stages of construction. It has now had it’s final coats of paint and looks outstanding!

Ah – the view from the walking trail. It’s starting to look as Ron and I envisioned it 5 years ago. It’s just going to take a little bit more blood, sweat and tears (on a day like today there was plenty of sweat with the temp heating 32! – fortunately no blood or tears) to make it so.
Bernie and Ron
PS – thanks for all the comments on the last entry and thanks for letting me know in person that you read and enjoy the blog.

PSS – Sorry for the issue about not being able to find the entry – it entered it chronologically! I had started that entry eons ago while we were working on the attic but was having trouble uploading pictures from the camera and the phone (and then finding those files and making them work for the blog) and so it ended up behind the other three. I moved it now and have deleted the other one – this blog works as a communication with those that like to follow our progress but it is also a great reference for me. Which is why I moved it – in two years I won’t be able to figure out what the heck is up with the pictures that have 2 stories redone before we have taken it back to the studs!

Hm – but if I move it and then hit unpublish what will happen to the comments! Ah – the learning curve! I was just really impressed that I actually could cut and paste the whole thing (the pictures can be a bit of an issue sometimes) and keep it intact.
HM – so I tried to move the 5 comments from the deleted entry to the current entry as they are in a different section in the “back” of the blog platform but it didn’t seem to work. But thanks to Raelyn, Ashley, Pam and Cyndi for their comments. Special thanks to Cyndi who is a librarian and is doing some research looking for the milling company in Port Hardy – I’ll keep you posted on what she finds.

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9 Responses to The Cedar Story

  1. Raelyn says:

    Good Morning Bernie,
    Thank you very much for your help. And thanks for sharing your blog – what a great project, you and Ron are doing an amazing job – I’ll be following it now!


  2. Pam says:

    Hi B,
    Amazing photos. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Think I have missed a couple of postings so it was good we had to go back- will be nice to see when it is farther along.


  4. Cyndi says:

    Ha ha on your FB post I said the title of this blog sounded like a research paper, and it turns out it is! I forgot to tell you I was standing on a hill a few miles from your house (long story as to why, I’ll explain next time I see you) and we could see your house. Great view.


  5. Ashley says:

    I adore cedar. My dad has a small sawmill in Nanaimo and mills lots of cedar, mainly for fences, but he often has shakes, too.
    He built me a chest out of pine, but lined the thing with gorgeous smelly red cedar!


  6. Norma says:

    Thx Bernie!! I checked it out & will eventually get caught up to “now” What an amazing story to follow & look how much you have achieved so far!!! What on earth will you do with your time when it is ALL COMPLETED?


  7. Melanie Rempel says:

    I really have to come for a ride through your country some sunday afternoon and come see your place. I love finding clues about something from years ago too. Lookin’ Good!!


  8. Patti Erikson-Reynolds says:

    I was in Edmonton visiting my sister, so I missed an early read on this post. Super interesting and boy! wouldn’t a cedar colour bargello look fabulous! Winter project? 🙂


  9. Karin says:

    What are you going to do with the old shingle with the writing? You will have to come up with something creative. Thanks for the lesson on cedar, I love all the trivia info about thujaplicin. I think my chest is lined with cedar and I love the smell of it. Also love the last picture from the walk,it is looking so awesome!


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