(Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

(Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Langley author spins true sawmill tales

Chick Stewart’s new memoir includes adventures with dynamite and a frozen river.

A Fort Langley man who was a pioneer in Fraser Valley sawmills will be in Langley Saturday with copies of his new autobiography.

It Can Be Done: An Ordinary Man’s Extraordinary Success is out now from Harbour Publishing.

Donald “Chick” Stewart of Stewart and Rempel Sawmills wrote the book, with Michele Carter, about his journey from a Manitoba chicken farm to working in mills, to buying his own with Vic Rempel.

S&R Sawmills grew from one mill to five along the Fraser River and a workforce of more than 500 by the 1990s.

Along the way, Stewart had some interesting adventures – including the time he headed down to the Co-op in Langley to buy some dynamite, to free up the mill’s logs from the ice on the frozen river.

That adventure also netted a few salmon for the dinner table.

The first mill the company owned, in 1963, was purchased in Port Kells.

Stewart’s memoir also traces the changes in the industry, the growth of his family, andthe expansion of business to send lumber to Japan.

He recounts some close calls while learning to fly in rickety planes – and how he eventually gave up on flying as too dangerous for a man with a family.

It was in Fort Langley, in an ice cream shop, where Stewart would first meet his wife Marilyn.

A love of golf led Stewart to build the Northview Golf Course in Surrey, with the help of Arnold Palmer.

An even more personal project was the development of the Czorny Alzheimer Centre in Surrey, for care and treatment of those with the disease.

Stewart and Carter will be at Coles in the Willowbrook Shopping Centre on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

All royalties from the sale of It Can Be Done will be donated to charity.