The Chainsaw is strictly a Canadian invention and Nanaimo adds one more to her long string of "famous firsts" For the original patents for a gasoline powered chainsaw first was taken out in 1918 by the late Mr. James Shand who spent the latter part of his life in Nanaimo. His son Dave is presently on the staff of the I.E.L firm which has manufactured and developed improvements in this Pioneer Chain Saw for many years. Mr. Shand had distributed his chainsaw in relatively small numbers and when his patents lapsed in 1932, a German by the name of Stiehl, who has worked with him and who is still active at 80 started to produce in Germany and to market on the B.C. Coast , this saw which became known as the "Hitler Saw", losing sight of the fact that this invention was strictly Canadian. It was not until the manpower shortage of the war years, however that the power chainsaw really came into its own. When World War ll broke out, all German patents were seized by the Custodian of the Alien Property and Mr Reid Prentice of Vancouver obtained the license to manufacture the Pioneer, which was in great demand. Later, the IEL firm headed by Mr Roy Prentice began to produce the saw and Mr Dave Shand, who always shared his fathers interest in the invention is presently a member of the IEL sales staff. To Mr Dave Shand can be credited another Nanaimo "first." For it was while operating McIntyre & Shand, "Pioneer" chain saw distributors in Nanaimo, that he and his partner dreamed up and promoted the idea of the newly organized D.V. A. Vocational School instituting the first class to train veterans in chain saw operation and repairs. McIntyre & Shand donated 2 models of the saw for stripping and assembly. The graduating operators were absorbed by logging camps, or else bought their own saw and went to work for themselves. One of this first class is on the staff today at IRA BECKER & SON, Nanaimo. Mr Dick Becker, well-known Island distributor of the Pioneer Chain Saw, started business in Victoria in his fathers firm, IRA BECKER servicing handsaws, lawn mowers and saws but in 1945, Mr Dave Shand, who had opened an agency for his father's chainsaw in Nanaimo for IEL that same year, interested Mr Dick Becker in taking on the agency of the Pioneer Chainsaw in Victoria and vicinity. The following year, Mr. Becker expanded his operation to take in Duncan and on April 1 1947, he took over the distributorship in Nanaimo from McIntyre & Shand at 79 Victoria, dropping "& Son" from the name of his business.
One of the very first business expansion stories carried by SPIES & BUYS was that of IRA BECKER & SON when, in 1951, the firm moved to their fine brand new building at 25 Comox Road, their present address. Here both sales and service departments have adequate space in which to operate and parking is easy. Before very long, Mr. Becker added to his business a rental service on industrial equipment such as cement mixers, air compressors, industrial pumps, wheelbarrows, floor sanders, space heaters. Later he added a sales department for LawnBoy Mowers, Johnson Outboard Motors and a fine selection of New Westminster Plastic boats.