Just in case of a Japanese invasion in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attacks, loggers and backwoodsmen in the Pacific Northwest were mobilized and given a gun they understood. 

This happened in Canada's British Columbia province during World War II when a group termed at first the Coastal Defence Guards, then later the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers, were formed in early 1942. While the threat of invasion sounds far-fetched today, keep in mind that at the time Japanese submarines were bombarding the U.S. West Coast while one of Yamamoto’s task forces had seized islands off Alaska and were busy turning them into bases. 

The men of the PCMR, recruited from among prospectors and loggers, weren't expected to be toy soldiers, but instead formed into small teams spread out across rural BC and, as explained by the Naval and Military Museum of Esquimalt, "instructed in tactical situations that included observation, especially coast watching against the possible Japanese invasion, anti-sabotage measures and protection of lines of communication and transportation."

As formal training was limited, it was decided to initially equip such PCMR detachments with .30-30 caliber lever actions, a gun they would likely be familiar with already. The Canadian government promptly ordered about 3,000 Winchester Model 94s and Model 64s as well as an estimated 1,800 Marlin Model 1936s direct from those companies' respective New Haven, Connecticut factories. 

Winchester 94
This pre-WWII (and Pre-64) Winchester Model 94 in the Guns.com Vault is representative of the guns issued to the PCMR. Designed by John Browning and introduced in 1894, hence the name, over 7 million Model 94s have been delivered to the market, and it remains in steady production today. (Photo: Guns.com)




Winchester 64
A beautiful circa 1933 Winchester Model 64 in the Guns.com Vault. Introduced in the early 1930s, the Model 64 was produced into the 1950s with some 67,000 made, making them a bit rarer than the ubiquitous Model 94.  (Photo: Guns.com)
Marlin 36RC
A vintage Marlin 36RC in .30-30 in the Guns.com Vault. The well-known Marlin 336 was a development of the Model 1936/36 as used by the PCMR and its forerunner, the Model 1893. Today the 336 is expected to be added to Ruger's catalog in the coming weeks. (Photo: Guns.com)  




These lever guns were augmented by Lend-Leased American M1917 Enfields as well as some old Ross rifles then later by STEN guns. 


PCMR soldiers
PCMR members used leftover WWI bolt-action rifles such as M1917 Enfields, commercial American-made lever guns and STEN guns in their patrols during World War II. (Photos: Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada)


The PCMR were seen as being adept at keeping tabs on a Japanese invasion or raid then serve as guides for responding Canadian or American reinforcements. 

"They will become the generals, leading the generals of the army by the nose," said one contemporary account. "They will know the shortcuts, the vital roadways to block, the waterways to divert or unleash. The Pacific Rangers with their .30-30s, their bowie knives, their pocket compasses, and their understanding of the country will justify any spitting of tobacco juice on a general’s shoes.” 

By the time the Rangers were disbanded in 1945, they were some 15,000 strong and many of the wartime .30-30s were sold off to the men who used them, at a cost of $5.

Today, the Canadian Army still fields a modern version of the Ranger units, now armed with new Colt Canada-built C19 Sako bolt actions, which only recently replaced WWII-vintage Enfield .303s, and they no doubt still know all the shortcuts and vital roadways. 

Banner photo: Vintage "pre-64" Winchester Model 94 available in the Guns.com Vault.