Tumbler Ridge, BC: Recently, while drifting around The Golden Triangle looking for a job for my little bulldozer, I told a woman in a government employment office I was a Catskinner which caused her to wrinkle her nose in disgust and say ?That?s awful! What do you do, sell the skins for money?? Thinking she was joking, I went along with it and told her there was a lot of money in cat hides.
You could sew ten or twenty of them together, make a parka out of it and you would never again have problems with mice because they pick up the scent of the cats and go find somewhere else to live. Of course, it wasn?t easy catching and skinning stray cats but it was a living. Sometimes you had to move into settled areas and snatch the cats right out of people?s yards which could get you shot but it beat wrestling cougars to make a buck.
But, I assured her with a straight face, I was a man of principal and never snatched and skinned kittens. What was the point? You would need 100 of the cute little buggers to make a nice coat and it would take forever to sew them up.
Just about the time she was getting ready to phone the RCMP and have me arrested as a serial cat killer, I told her, of course, I was joking because Cat stood for Caterpillar. ?You skin caterpillars?? she shrieked.
Well, they?re easier to catch when they?re crawling on the ground and almost impossible to catch after they turn into butterflies.
?You kill butterflies for money?! And you want me to help you find a job? I LOVE butterflies.?
I told her Caterpillar had a capital ?C? and was the name of the company which manufactures more bulldozers than any other in the world.
?So you?re a heavy equipment operator.? she said.
No, I?m a Catskinner. A heavy equipment operator is anybody who runs anything from loaders to graders to scrapers to haul trucks, Bobcats, rubber-tired hoes or any earth-moving equipment which has an engine.
I told her I?m just a Catskinner because I?m prejudiced against all the rest of the iron. I do NOT believe that all machines were created equal. I was educated in a place where bulldozers are the upper class and all other machines are second-class citizens not worthy of my respect. We had a derogatory name for people who operate anything but bulldozers but it can?t be printed in a respectable publication.
?Where do they think like THAT?? she asked.
The northern end of The Golden Triangle, I told her, Dawson City, the Heart of the Klondike. I learned my Catskinning up there from the greatest Catskinners who ever pushed Mother Earth, the same ones who built the Alaska Highway, worked the permafrost of the Klondike goldfields and built the Dempster Highway, the first road in North America to cross the Arctic Circle.
?Where?s the southern end of this triangle you?re talking about?? she wanted to know as she was getting interested in my geographical tale. Whistler, BC. Snow is called White Gold in ski areas. ?And the Klondike, of course, is yellow gold. Where is the third point of this golden triangle??
Tumbler Ridge. Coal. Black gold.
If you look at a map of BC and the Yukon and draw three straight lines connecting Dawson City, Whistler and Tumbler Ridge, you have identified the Golden Triangle. I feel completely at home anywhere within that triangle much the same way a Grizzly Bear feels at home anywhere in his territory.