An Immersible Synergy - 2015/11/16

Respect for Beginnings—

Vancouver Urban Timberworks / vancouverurbantimberworks.com

Living at Eric’s grandparents home off Mountain Highway on the North Shore at the time, they would fill up the yard with what they found. The two recall the first couple curious visits by elderly neighbours who came by as they were working with chainsaws in hand. “We thought ‘oh we better shut this down,’ you’d stop the saw and then they’d say ‘oh no keep going.’ They were actually just stoked…watching,” Danny mentions. They would relate to a time when their days involved milling logs, as a bit of nostalgia surfaced when these 80-90-somethings came across a couple of young guys at work.

Perhaps Eric Savics and Danny Hagge’s respect for Vancouver’s history and economy, is what makes their business a somewhat romantic idea, you can’t help but fall in love with. The two-man tag-team run a micro sawmill in Squamish, and wood-working studio in North Vancouver, that prides itself in custom raw material; salvaging trees from all over Vancouver and throughout the lower mainland. Vancouver Urban Timberworks saw their opportunity based on a little hiccup in the system: trees coming down in urban areas that held more value then what they were being considered for.

Their vision for the future is built from an experiential concept of custom. “The idea being that you will come into a big warehouse with polished concrete floors, and there are these big slabs saved from North Van, Surrey, White Rock, Vancouver and city parks [all] curated in a beautiful way…and perhaps you are having a cappuccino as your walking through. That’s the goal. And the things is, wood has never been curated [like this] before,” Eric shares.

There is an homage of respect—a synergy between the two, that is obvious when sitting across from them, helping to navigate the business in a way that is both authentic and earnest. Despite many details that need refining and the growth spurt they are currently in, the desire to remain a micro sawmill brings variety to the days, and keeps it personal. Incredibly different but fulfilling complimentary roles, they are slowly growing their team. Dylan works with Danny up at the mill, and and Mikey, Greg and Kalli are down in the shop with Eric in North Vancouver.

One who’s spent many days with the team and shares many candid moments of Vancouver Urban Timberworks, is Alana Paterson. “Beyond photography [she] actually works with us.” Danny continues, “She is often in the truck, wrangles logs, runs the sawmill every once in a while. Obviously her photography and her aesthetic has been huge and we can’t sugar coat that, but she is [also] physically in it.” When she’s not at the mill, or on a shoot, Alana can be found working on a farm in Pemberton. Seeing this collection of black and white photos she took of Danny and Dylan on a rainy day at the mill, gave reason to venture a bit further, and uncover how she entangles herself with her subjects. “Well I guess I don’t shy from weather or being outside in whatever conditions get dumped or blown at us. My respect for working class Canada and the subjects I choose and can converse with, and relate to naturally, are for sure a product of how I grew up, and with out question navigate what I want to be a part of.”

These were from a day when we were cutting a pretty big log with the alaskan mill and it was pouring rain, but that’s life on the coast and if you wait for a dry day you’ll be cutting on easter. Alaskan milling takes two people at the most so I was able to bop around and take some photos. The guys looked great all geared up in their shitty rain gear and thermals. I love milling. Do you love it? I love it.   3ND