A century of hardwork was celebrated at EACOM's Timmins sawmill on May 31.
EACOM's president and CEO, Kevin Edgson, said the Timmins sawmill's story is one of resilience and growth, of dedicated employees, and strength in a challenging industry.
Located on the banks of the Mattagami River, Rudolph McChesney Lumber was founded in 1919.
“Many have things changed. If you think about it, when... a mill was built 100 years ago, logs came down the river, the woods were worked by people using a team of horses. Back in 1919, the war had just ended, it was a new dawn and as things came forward, so did industry and the development here in the North,” Edgson said.
Through the years, the ownership of the site has changed hands several times, with EACOM purchasing it from Domtar in 2010.
It's endured two fires, in the mid-1950s and in 2012, and it was devastated by a flood in 1960.
On May 31, a group of people toured the sawmill to witness the technology that is featured at the modern facility.
In the past decade, EACOM has invested more than $42 million to modernize its facilities and improve its performance.
“Today, Timmins is among one of the most competitive sawmills in the industry in Canada. Unfortunately, our industry is under all sorts of challenges, be it from global trade to the land base and views from the urban population in terms of lack of appreciation for what goes on in the North and the people that live here,” Edgson said.
The sawmill employs 150 people and supports 215 jobs in the woodlands.
To celebrate its centennial, the company held a community celebration at the community's Bozzer Park.
There were kids' games, a free barbecue, and a friendly baseball game for employees.
EACOM also made a legacy gift to the community.
“We’re going to take trees that are processed here in Timmins, we’re going to donate that lumber to make a shelter for the farmers market,” Edgson said.
The pavilion for the Mountjoy Farmers' Market is being built at the Mountjoy Historical Conservation Area, which is across the river from the sawmill.
Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry John Yakabuski was also in town for the celebration.
“As the saying goes, this is not your grandfather’s sawmill anymore. This is a highly technological business that takes advantage of the ability, the engineering that has brought technology to this business to make it more competitive than ever, because we live in that kind world,” he said.
He's been touring Ontario gathering input to develop a new forest strategy.
“We’ve finished our roundtables, we’re looking forward to coming forth with a new forest strategy with the key components of wood supply, cost competitiveness, innovation and sustainability,” he said.
This story originally appeared on TimminsToday.com.