In the world of lumberjacks, Harmonie Blais is the new queen of the North.
Blais claimed the unofficial title after winning the loggers’ sports tournaments in Sandspit and Smithers, July 30 and Aug. 27, respectively. Port Clements did not host loggers’ sports this year but in 2019, the last year they had a competition, Blais was queen.
“I’m turning 49 in November, so that’s not bad for a 49-year-old lady,” she said.
The northern loggers’ sports tournaments included a series of events designed for participants to demonstrate their strength and skills, activities such as axe throwing and log rolling. At the end of each tournament, the male and female who accumulated the most points, based on their standings in the events, were crowned king and queen.
While Blais is the reigning northern champion, she is not a logger herself.
Blais got her start in logging sports six years ago when Port Clements revitalized Loggers’ Sports during their annual Canada Day celebrations.
“I thought, I’ll give it a shot. So I tried every event, including some of the men’s events with a chainsaw, and I did really well and won the queen title,” Blais said.
There currently is not a chainsaw competition in the women’s division in Sandspit or Smithers, but Blais has been pushing for one to be added in Sandspit. She competed in a men’s event one year and came second place.
According to Blais, one of her secret weapons in the competition is she feels comfortable walking across logs in caulk boots — a specialized type of footwear with steel spikes through the sole for added traction — from years of experience working as a tree planter. This is particularly advantageous in the log rolling competition.
The best part of the competitions for her is the prizes and cash.
She didn’t want to reveal how much money she made this year but said it was a lot, before adding that prizes are an equal attraction. In previous years Blais has walked away with tools, tool kits, propane tanks and even a barbecue.
“You’re glad there’s a reward because it’s stressful competition,” she said.
Past loggers’ games have been kind of “wicked,” she said. Therefore she is thankful to have found camaraderie among her competitors.
“It’s a team game even though it’s an individual competition. We’re there to support and help and cheer each other on and help each other learn methods to doing some of the competitions because they are kind of complicated,” she said.
At this point Blais has only competed in northern tournaments but she is considering travelling to compete in other B.C. events, as well as nationally.
Kaitlyn Bailey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View