SAM Gets a Makeover


Artist Nick Tattersfield poses with SAM at the Loggers Sports Ground.
Photo: David Fournier

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: July 21, 2014

SAM is back—and he’s back in style, with a smile, a sparkle in his eye, a new hat and a diamond in his tooth. SAM (Squamish Axe Man), the popular loggers’ statute, got a $5000 makeover this summer.

“We just cheered him up, now he doesn’t look like he’s headed to the gulag.” Nick Tattersfield.

So, look closer as you approach the highway and you will notice a SAM who is all smiles, has a new brim hat and a sparkle in his eyes.

“We want him to welcome people to Squamish,” said Bryan Couture, his caretaker.

SAM was a symbol of logging and a popular tourist magnet for over a decade, but there was one problem: He looked quite glum.

SAM’s caretaker, Bryan Couture, said he had been meaning to make SAM more cheerful, but never really found the time or the money to do so.

But this year, with $5,000 from Squamish Days, Couture called Nick Tattersfield, the artists who first created SAM. To lend him a more cheerful demeanor, Nick opened SAM’s eyes and mouth a little and reshaped his moustache.  

“We just cheered him up, now he doesn’t look like he’s headed to the gulag,” said Nick Tattersfield.

To create a more Westcoast look, Tattersfield also took away the toque and put on a WorkSafe BC hat on SAM.

Nick Tattersfield had originally created SAM for the movie “Are We There Yet”, which was partly filmed in Britannia Beach during 2004.

It was the character in the movie that called for SAM to look grim and droopy. It was during the shooting of this movie at Britannia Beach that Couture first saw SAM and knew he wanted to bring SAM to Squamish.

A contest was held to name the Squamish Lumberjack, and Ernest Weiss proposed the name Squamish Axe Man (SAM).

SAM first found a home at the Squamish Adventure Centre where he quickly became a tourist attraction, even getting his own red mittens to welcome tourists for the 2010 Winter Olympics. But the district-led Squamish Sustainability Corporation (SSC) decided to remove SAM from the adventure centre because he wasn’t, in their view, the best symbolic representation for Squamish.

SAM was rejected by the district, but accepted by the new casino where he is a crowd puller. Couture said he has heard from the Squamish Adventure Centre and they want SAM back. But for now, Couture is happy that SAM has had a makeover he’s been waiting to have for over a decade.

“He looks clean and he looks really good,” Couture said.



  1. Glenne Campbell says:

    Ode to Sam the Axe Man
    ( as set to the Cadence of Sam McGee from Tennessee by Robert Service)

    The highway lights have seen queer sights, but the strangest they ever did see,
    Was the night on the road, the Sea to Sky of old,
    We dressed Sam the Axe Man of Squamish, BC.

    Now Sam the Axe man was from the Callaghan, where the cedar twists and twirls
    Why he left his home for the roads to roam,
    Was for the love of the Squamish girls.

    He was always old, but lure of Olympic gold, called him out of retreat for a spell
    And he’d often say in a secretive way
    “I’d sooner be dressed up quite well”

    “These threads are rag bear, with rip and tear on this hat, this mac and these boots,
    They’ve seen better days, gone are old ways,
    Help me blossom from these roots.”

    In 2010 we were partying away, dreaming of better times.
    Talk of the hold of a buckets full load,
    In a town with too many signs.

    If our eyes we’d close and God surely knows, we do anytime we can.
    We could let it be said, “ Good Lord, he looks dead,
    Our hero, our Sam the Axe Man”

    And then one night, some of us got tight, (from the booze and the BC bud)
    All the towns’ dogs were fed and the stars overhead
    Were shining a light on our stud.

    Sam looked at me, “Greg “ said he, “I’ve got something to tell you my friend,
    There is something to do and only by you.
    To see me to the end.”

    Well he seemed so down on this old loggin town, he spoke in ghostly moans,
    “It’s the sartorial choice, of which I have no voice
    On what to wear on my back and my bones.”

    “And I’m looking so dead, with the awful dread of the pale face that I’ve got.
    So I want you to swear, come foul weather or fair,
    You ‘ll get George to doll me up a lot.

    A town icon’s need, is a thing to heed, so Greg please swear that you will not fail,
    Call Hollywood back; get the script back on track,
    Write a happy ending to Old Sam’s life tale.”

    There wasn’t a breath, in the valley of death, Greg and George hurried horror driven,
    With a corpse half hid, they did what they did,
    Because of a promise given.

    Sam was stripped to the woods, as the boys had the goods, and a plan to completely impart,
    The renewal of Sam the Axe Man, come hell or flood undammed,
    To an energy; lively and smart.

    Now a promise made, is a debt unpaid, but the Olympics have their own set of rules.
    In the days to come, with all lips sealed dumb,
    Sam would be adorned in silks and jewels.

    “No toque for me, I want to be free. Let my brown hair blow in the wind,
    Let my cheeks rosy glow, Let my eyes lively show,
    Lifeforce flowing to the blood of my kin.”

    And every day, that gasping clay, seemed brighter and lighter shine,
    New blood took a stance, and some took a chance
    To claim Sam’s spirit as the town’s lifeline.

    The town people wept, some even stepped, up to the plate to help get him dressed.
    The forlorn guy, with death in his eye,
    With a look to the future expressed:

    “ Damn the hacks, with the rings on their backs. Bring me apparel so fine.
    Bring me leather, bring me lace, put a smile on my face
    I want a look that is mine.”

    Lo, he’s still in gloom, looking like an heirloom and begs for ideas sublime,
    No one can decide, without hurting Sam’s pride,
    What he’ll wear for the show at primetime.

    As the years quickly pass, some cover their ass; some take steps to garner bravos,
    But the town softly sleeps………false promises keep
    Our Sam in the Emperor’s New Clothes.

    Bryan, the man, with a cheque in his hand, found the way to appease Sam’s prayer,
    It’s our towns claim to fame, that inspired the game
    Of showcasing our fun and our flare.

  2. Peter Legere says:

    Thanks for the chuckle, Glenne.
    I wouldn’t advise quitting your day job, though. :)