By Andru McCracken

Walter Magrum wrestles with an early chainsaw that uses a cam that could position the blade vertically for bucking or horizontally for felling. Magrum remembers fitting it with a 36 inch bar, when a young man took a look at it and declared it was too heavy to use. Magrum did one better and felled a tree… using only one hand. At 92 he’s not as spry, but the story lives on. /ANDRU MCCRACKEN

Miguel Rodriguez, a welder with CN, stopped by Walter Magrum’s place years ago to buy a travel trailer.

Last week Miguel stopped in to check on Walter and see how he was doing.

When Miguel showed up on the doorstep, Walter didn’t know who he was at first.

“My eyesight is pretty blurry,” said Walter. But when Miguel told him he had bought the trailer years ago, Walter remembered him immediately… by name.

“How is it that he can remember my name after all these years?” wondered Miguel.

Walter is a master of esoteric knowledge of strange and wonderful small engines, Valemount’s go-to person for lawn mower and chainsaw repair, and a curator of a fine collection of chainsaw specimens used in BC’s forest industry. He is also known for his amazing tales connected to each machine. Each tells the story of another era, the promise of technology and sometimes just frustration. One chainsaw was touted as so light it could be rested on the tips of your fingers. What the television advertisement didn’t show, said Walter, was the woman balancing the saw on the tips of her fingers in a pretty summer dress was aided by a stout piano wire holding the saw up from the studio ceiling.

Walter and Miguel Rodriguez, bound by gear, enjoy each others’ company and tales of adventure. /ANDRU MCCRACKEN

The morning Miguel stopped by, he and Walter swapped adventure stories of the old travel trailer. Sure enough, both poured out stories of repair.

Magrum is now 92 years old and in the middle of a massive renovation of his property, halted by local bylaws on account that he has too many big buildings for the size of his lot.

However, Walter was able to finish one important piece of work: a museum for his chainsaw collection.

You might know his place, anchored at the end of 3rd Avenue with a massive quonset hut in his driveway. His lawn is a repository of lawnmowers and machines of all types for repair and parts.

If you’d like to visit, drop in.

If you’re too shy to just drop in, consider taking a lawnmower or snowblower for repair. There’s little doubt you’ll be offered a chance to see the amazing museum of chainsaws.

Take precautions of course, keep six feet… Walter is no spring chicken, he was born in 1928 and is better than 92… a bout of COVID would do him no good, but the man loves to tell stories. And each of those saws have stories that ought to be told.