By Cindy FIlipenko
A routine trip to inspect a forestry road ended in tragedy April 27 for one of the Sea to Sky corridor’s most established logging families. Davey Valleau, 63, died as the result of a single vehicle accident on South Creek Forestry Road.
Valleau was reported missing at 1:30 a.m. on April 27 after he failed to return home. Members of the logger’s family, RCMP and Tribal Police, undertook the subsequent search. When their efforts failed to locate Valleau’s vehicle, the Pemberton RCMP called in Search and Rescue. The driverless vehicle was discovered off a steep embankment. At approximately 5 p.m. Valleau’s body was found on land approximately 1 km from where the accident occurred.
Those are the cold facts.
Beyond those facts is the story of the son of one of Whistler’s pioneering loggers. A man who worked tirelessly to sustain a family business that proved itself to be more than just another logging company. A man described as honest, caring and quick-witted. A man who will be greatly missed.
“He always worked his tail off, loved having family and friends around and spent much of his time pensively squatting in the yard. From what I know and understand, he was very tough but fair in work as he was in life. Everyone that he has worked with holds the utmost respect for him and all speak very highly of him,” said his son Dave.
One of those men is Stu McNulty.
McNulty worked for Valleau Logging for 30 years and knew Davey for close to 40. McNulty started out working for Davey’s dad, Laurence, in the ’60s when Whistler was still known as Alta Lake. He stayed with the company when it shifted its base to Pemberton in 1973 and Davey and his brother Rick took over.
“Working for the Valleaus, basically it was one extended family — the whole crew. That’s how his dad was and when he and his brother took over, it was how they were.”
According to his son, Pete, Davey had been paying into WCB since he was 15 years old. Asked if his dad had been close to retiring, Pete laughed, the idea of his dad quitting forestry obviously inconceivable — it was in his blood. Pete’s brother Dave, concurred.
“I first started working for my grandfather, Laurence, in the bush when I was about 13 years old for $12 per hour. The first thing my dad did the following summer when he took over after my grandfather retired was drop my wages down to $10 an hour thinking my grandfather was being too generous in his old age — which he probably was.