Haliburton Forest continues to grow, adding sawmill to operations

By Jenn Watt

The addition of a hardwood sawmill and forestry division from Rayonier Advanced Materials in Huntsville has increased production capacity of Haliburton Forest, which previously had two other sawmills – one in Kennisis Lake and the other in South River. 

The acquisition, made by Huntsville Forest Products, a wholly owned subsidiary of Haliburton Forest, was announced on Oct. 19. It includes the Huntsville forestry division, which provides sawlogs from the French-Severn Forest, managed by Westwind Forest Stewardship Inc.

Malcolm Cecil-Cockwell, managing director of Haliburton Forest, said they see a bright future for the hardwood forest products industry and have invested accordingly. 

“Beyond the general opportunity to grow, we felt that this was a unique opportunity to meaningfully increase our presence in the region, as HFP [Huntsville Forest Products] is literally located right in between our two existing sawmills,” he said via email. “Finally, and perhaps most important, this is a ‘mature’ facility with talented staff, good processes, and a solid work ethic – we felt that bringing it all together would improve our entire team, because you [can] never have too many good people.”

Combining its facilities, Haliburton Forest will now be able to produce 40 million fbm (board feet) per year and employ more than 100 people and about the same number of contractors. The hardwood lumber processed at its sawmills is divided into two product streams: “appearance applications” and “industrial applications.” Appearance applications includes furniture, moldings and flooring, while industrial applications includes railway ties, pallets, and truck flooring.

In a statement released Oct. 19, Westwind Forest Stewardship board chair Rob Keen said they were “extremely pleased” with the acquisition “and happily welcome having a local family-owned forestry company operating in the French-Severn Forest.” Westwind holds the sustainable forest licence for Crown land in the French-Severn Forest, which is in the area between Algonquin Park and Georgian Bay.

Cecil-Cockwell said Haliburton Forest’s focus is on “internalizing and upgrading our recent acquisitions,” noting the company has grown to one of the province’s largest hardwood forest enterprises in the matter of a few years. 

He said he personally felt satisfaction about the acquisition, which was in the works for months.  

“It’s also rewarding to know that we are building a great Canadian hardwood forest products enterprise,” he said.