TEMAGAMI FOREST PRODUCTS
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Temagami is a land plentiful in natural resources and beauty.
It was also once home to the William Milne and Sons Lumber Company located just north of the town. Milne's company provided employment for 150 Temagami residents until it closed in 1990. The closure dealt a devastating blow to the community especially since the town's second main employer, the Sherman Mine, had closed only a year prior.
Fortunately Temagami's businesses have been able to sustain themselves based on their popularity with the tourists who flock to the small town each summer. The area's natural resources attract fishermen, canoeists, campers and hunters alike.
Over the years there had been talks of reviving the lumber mill but nothing had ever come from the discussions. This changed in the early 21st century when businessmen Ivan Beauchamp and his business partner Aurele St-Jean announced that they were investing $6 million to open a new lumber mill. The mill would be Ontario's first and only 100% white birch sawmill.
The new business was tentatively named Temagami Forest Products and would employ an estimated 62 people. Beauchamp and St-Jean received a $1-million boost in the form of a cheque from Timiskaming-Cochrane MP Ben Serre. The cheque was presented on behalf of Jane Stewart, the minister rsponsible for Human Resources Development Canada.
Temagami Forest Products was to be constructed in two stages. The first would be the $4.1 million, 60,000-cubic-metre sawmill. The second stage would be a re-manufacturing facility that would produce furniture parts and laminate panels from the output of the sawmill.
Construction finally began on the mill in 2003. On June 18, 2004 Temagami Forest Products officially opened for business.
The lumber mill was seen as a new breath of life for the town, which was struggling to keep residents from moving away and seeing a declining enrollment in the local school.
Unfortunately the days of lumbering returning to Temagami were to be short lived. In August of 2005, 50 workers were laid off due to the business seeing insufficient profits. At that time, the company underwent restructuring and was scheduled to be sold to a larger organization.
The sale failed to complete as the organization didn't have the finances to complete the sale. In March of 2006, president Ivan Beauchamp announced that he was negotiating with another potential buyer. Beauchamp also cautioned that if the deal failed to go through, that the mill would enter into receivership.
These fears were realized in April of 2006 when a creditor began proceedings to put the mill into receivership. Temagami's dream to have another sawmill was now just a memory.
A visit to the Milnes/TFP location today will reveal an old rusting railway line which stops abruptly where a sign announces, "Track Stops Here". Old pillars and foundations cover the area and a dock sits unused.