When three brothers from Russia arrived in Timmins in 1904, they weren't looking for gold. Instead, they saw value in the abundance of trees in the area.
Those first roots have grown into a longestablished Feldman family business that has branched from lumber camps and mills to a building supply retail outlet.
“The Feldman name has long been a part of business in Timmins,” said Lorne Feldman of Feldman Timber, a building supply store in the east end of the city.
In the late 1960s, his father Morris recognized the need to move from the lumber mills and camps into the retail sector.
He purchased land from the Hollinger Mine at the junction of Highways 101 and 655 to establish his new venture.
“There wasn’t much here at the time but the town was moving in this direction and history has proven him right,” Feldman said.
At the time, Timmins had a robust population and there was a need for that type of retail. Newer homes were being built and others were being renovated and people could not get serviced by what was available at the time.
His father’s dream was to develop the property further but he never got the opportunity before he passed away in 1998.
“It was always a desire of mine to fulfill his vision and dream,” he said.
In 2007, the business undertook a $15-million development, which included a new facility for Feldman Timber, a Shoppers’ Drug Mart, a Home Health Care, an A&W restaurant and doctors’ offices.
It was named, appropriately, the Morris A. Feldman Development.
“Not only did this development significantly enhance this corner, which sits on two main arteries coming in and out of the city, the tax base was raised 700 per cent,”
Feldman said. “It really solidified the family commitment and contribution to Timmins that it has made over the century.”
The fourth-generation businessman assumed the leadership role following his father’s death, despite obtaining a law degree and being called to the bar in 1999.
He turned down many opportunities in southern Ontario so the family’s legacy and business could continue in the city.
“When times get difficult, many companies leave the community but no one can say that about the Feldmans,” he said.
“It is one of the long-standing businesses in Timmins that has shown true commitment through challenging times and continued to invest in the community.
“You can’t point to too many companies anywhere, much less Timmins, that have had a successful run such as Feldman Timber. I am really proud of the resiliency the company has shown throughout the years.”
Many of Feldman Timber’s customers are long-time ones that share stories of how the business helped them build their first home.
“A story that has been told to me many times is how people would approach my father and say they didn't have the money but they needed to build a house,” Feldman said. “He would let them get their material and they would ask him how he knew they would pay. He would say he knew they would and they have never forgotten that.”
The family is Jewish and at one time, the Jewish community was a vibrant part of the city. There was a synagogue until the early 1980s and a rabbi.
“There is still a Jewish community here but it is under 20 families. We were very much part of the fabric of the community, along with many other different cultures.”
More development plans are being made for the future and branching out to other communities in the North may be part of the expansion.
“I am a pretty young guy and it is my intention to continue on with the family legacy,” Feldman said. “I am an only child so the future and heritage rests with me and I don’t take that lightly. There are some exciting and ambitious plans that involve both development and the core business itself which is Feldman Timber. Commitment to the community has been ingrained in me.”