THE ADVOCATE 677
VOL. 77 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2019
LAW AND JUSTICE IN OCEAN FALLS
By Brian McDaniel
Ocean Falls is located on the central coast of B.C., approximately
300 miles north of Vancouver. Between 1912 and 1980
it was the location of a pulp and paper mill that was one of the
largest industrial concerns on the coast. At its peak in the
1950s and ’60s it was home to approximately 3,000 people. It was the wettest
inhabited community in North America and received approximately 170
inches (4,300 mm) of rain a year (Vancouver receives 45 inches (1,200
mm)). The mill closed permanently in 1980 and there are now only 25 permanent
residents in Ocean Falls. I lived in Ocean Falls from 1953 to 1968.
The following is a slightly modified – Asst. Ed. extract from my self-
published book, Ocean Falls: After the Whistle.
When I look back at my childhood, I am amazed at how poorly it prepared
me for a life as a lawyer. Ocean Falls had no need of lawyers, judges,
or legal rules and regulations. Laws are intended to regulate relations in a
civilized society. We had little need for formal law because our society
tended to regulate itself. Certain conditions promote the need for lawyers
and we had few of these. Anyone who needed a lawyer for a property transaction,
estate matter, family dispute, or the other legal detritus of everyday
life waited for a trip downtown to consult with a lawyer in Vancouver.
There were no houses to convey. All property, except for the eighty lots
in Martin Valley, was owned by Crown Zellerbach Canada (the “Company”).
There were no leases to negotiate. Families were thankful to a company
that provided houses at nominal rent. A new arrival simply signed the standard
form lease that the townsite manager gave him. Few people had wills
because few people had anything to give away to their heirs. The one significant
asset that most had was a joint savings account at the Canadian
Imperial Bank of Commerce or the Ocean Falls Credit Union. This asset
would pass to “the wife” if anything happened to “the old man”.
There was little in the way of entrepreneurial or commercial activity that
required contracts or dispute resolution. Traffic laws had no application as
there was virtually no traffic. There were few cars to crash and provide lit-