Dayton Boots' character Fraser the Lumberjack was created by Fraser Wilson to epitomise the rugged spirit of the West Coast men and the boots they relied on.
The history of Dayton began with the expansion of the British Columbia Coastal Forest Industry at the end of World War II. Driven by post war construction demand in Canada, Europe and world wide the timber market in British Columbia exploded. This demand frenzy was further fuelled by the extraordinary demand for wood pulp.
Prior to the end of the second war, four major pulp plants in Powell River, Port Alice, Ocean Falls and Howe Sound accounted for the majority of pulp production. In the twenty five years after the war, ten new pulp mills began operating on the West Coast. The logging industry reaped an enormous benefit because a wider range of logs were now utilized profitably. Timber stands that were previously ignored were economically feasible for harvest. The need for loggers exploded. Loggers and lumberjacks came to epitomize the rugged spirit of individualism of British Columbia.
Logging friends of Charlie Wohlford who frequented the '64' gambling and drinking club on East Hastings persuaded him to first fix and then created quality logging boots that helped start the Dayton Boot Company in 1946.
Shortly after the company was launched, in 1947 the highly regarded cartoonist of the Vancouver Sun, Fraser Wilson, then president of the newspaper guild (union) spoke out against the Province during a bitter marathon strike. He was fired and told to leave his office and job within the hour.
Sadly, Fraser Wilson never worked another day in the newspaper industry. With his primary source of income lost, Wilson turned to advertising and art as his primary means of support. Charlie Wohlford and Wayne Wohlford recognized his talent and engaged Wilson to create catalogues, advertising and cartoons to promote the Dayton Brand.
The cartoons, all created by Wilson, were utilized as part of an ongoing advertising and promotional campaign for the Dayton Brand. The centerpiece of the exhibition we have fondly named Fraser, the Dayton Lumberjack. It is a wonderful example of how Wilson captured the independent spirit of the British Columbia logger as well as the majestic outdoor landscape of British Columbia with his remarkable depiction of the mountains, the forests and the mighty Fraser River.
View some of Fraser Wilson's many classic Dayton knee-slapper adverts.