Hand signals of the Western Canadian sawmills


Canadian Sawmill (image credit forestryforum.com)

I try to rarely stray from the topic of trading pit hand signals and history but will make exception in this case to highlight an interesting article on hand signals used by Canadian sawmill workers.  These industrial hand signals are classified as an “alternate sign language” and like those used in the trading pit, originated for functional use but evolved much further to allow entire conversations.  The article notes that academic linguists recorded 157 signals used in the sawmills but that’s less than half the number of the signals I’ve cataloged for use in the trading pit.  Because the linguistic study is behind a paywall like most academic papers, I’ll continue to be in suspense on if there is a difference between signaling “drink some Timmy Horton’s” and “swig some Kokanee.”  Definetly check out the article at the following link:

The Lost Secret Sign Language of Sawmill Workers (Atlasobscura.com)

“In the 1970s, sawmill workers could talk about technical matters or insult each other in their own special sign language.”

h/t to Mike Nudelman for pointing the article out to me.

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