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Honouring Al McIntosh: The heartbeat of the Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival

Remembering his life of giving, community, family and hard work.

While the 'voice' of the Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival has fallen silent, his legacy lives on.

Al McIntosh, 92, the namesake of the Loggers Sports Festival grounds, died on Aug. 13, shortly after taking in his final festival events.

Building family and community

McIntosh and his wife Renee moved their young family to Squamish in the mid-1950s.

He worked as a logger and then became a carpenter; his work is still evident in structures around Squamish.

Throughout his life, he generously gave his time and skills to help build community in his adopted forever home.

He was fundamental in starting and running the popular Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival, volunteering with the event for 48 years.

As noted in a post by the festival following his passing, McIntosh was on the founding committee of the event in 1957.

He also competed in logger sports and was the master of ceremonies (MC) of first the Timber Queen Pageant, and then of logger sports.

"I think it probably started over a cup of coffee or something where they're all chatting, 'We should have a competition because he says he's faster' and so on," said Kellie McIntosh, Al's daughter, who spoke with The Squamish Chief on behalf of the family.

McIntosh let his voice rest when he retired from the MC role in 2003. However, he returned to the mic in 2007 to mark the 50th annual festival.

Final festival with family

McIntosh joined his family at the festival grounds last month to catch the 2023 loggers sports event.

Kellie said they took in the Bed Races on the Friday night, with timber champion Stirling Hart, who emceed the races, acknowledging McIntosh in the crowd.

At the parade he was having the time of his life, she said.

"He was sitting in his walker and dancing, clapping his hands," she said.

"Oh my gosh, we had so much fun."

Those with the festival say they are grateful for his contributions.

"It is because of this dedication to community, instilled upon us by the event's founders like Al, that we carry on the legacy and traditions of Squamish Days," reads the festival’s social media post.

Kellie said growing up, volunteering and giving back was just what was done in her home.

"They would have the volunteer dinner ... we'd make hundreds of batches of Shake and Bake chicken. In the kitchen, there were bags and bags and bags of Shake and Bake chicken," she said, with a laugh. "My mom and I and my sister-in-law, for years, we did that."

Kellie directly attributes her own devotion to volunteering at Second Chance Cheekye Ranch to the example of volunteerism her dad set.

McIntosh was involved in many other local activities, such as curling and drama club. He was a member of a water skiing group that entertained crowds with tricks. He also trained and rode horses, some of which participated in the Gymkhana days at the Brennan property in Brackendale.

In his senior years, he was known for assisting his fellow residents at Hilltop House, getting them coffee or even helping cut their meat, Kellie noted.

‘Don’t forget your roots’

Asked what other characteristics of her dad stand out, Kellie named his work ethic.

"Dad worked six days a week for years and years and years and years—six days a week, up in the morning, coming home and eating dinner and crashing, and getting up and doing it again. He worked very, very hard his whole life."

Her parents were married for 69 years, until her mom's death in 2021.

Kellie credits the longevity of their marriage to her parents’ perseverance, and the progression of their roles over time.

"I think they stuck to some traditional roles—a man goes to work, the woman stays at home. But then, over the years, it evolved to where my dad would be in the kitchen helping and cleaning. And my mom worked for a travel agent for a while, so dad became more of a participant in doing stuff around the house... He evolved."

Asked about the legacy her father leaves behind, Kellie, choking back tears, said she hopes it is fostering community spirit through giving back.

"I want people to know what a kind, hard working, giving person [he was] and for people to try to do the same to keep the community spirit going,” she continued. “Don't forget your roots."

Mentor and friend

Mayor Armand Hurford, the current loggers sports MC, noted volunteerism is a major driver in building a sense of community. He said McIntosh set the standard for this.
"During my youth, I spent a huge amount of time with Mr. McIntosh, not only at the Logger Sports grounds, but also travelling to competitions and exhibition shows and even visiting his winter stomping grounds in Yuma, Arizona," Hurford recalled. The McIntoshes were close friends with his parents and grandparents, Hurford added, "And I can confidently say he was my friend too,” he said.
"He had this incredible effect on people around him: He saw you, he heard you, and he was curious to know more about what was happening in your life.”

It was years of watching McIntosh’s work that inspired Hurford to start announcing mountain bike events in the late ‘90s, the mayor explained.

“Picking up the mic at the Al McIntosh Logger Sports Grounds about a decade ago with Al sitting front and centre was nerve-racking. Al sat there with his arms crossed, watching and listening as I tried to find my way," Hurford continued.

"When I looked to him for feedback, he gave a simple nod of encouragement, praise so high I knew I'd make it through."

Hurford said he had visited with McIntosh a few times recently and, true to form, he was curious to know how he was doing and what Hurford was working on.

"He was his usual, expansive self, but ... he missed his wife, Renee, so much so that it gives me comfort to know he is with her now. Rest in peace to both of you, Al and Renee, and my deepest condolences to the family.

“The people of Squamish have benefited profoundly from your time here with us, as have I. Thank you."