The Communities : COMMUNITY LIFE : The Companies
Group of men posing including Chinese workers
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Cowichan Valley logging was driven by the logging companies. Their history is full of partnerships, mergers, fast money and economic pitfalls. Unlike today, when many logging operations are run my multinational corporations, the logging companies of the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century were based locally. This made the companies a part of the communities they shaped, from the small Japanese-owned Ocean Lumber Co. to the mergers of the 1950s that created MacMillan Bloedel, Canada's largest forest products company at the time.
Mayo Singh began Mayo Siding after he obtained several tracks of forested land next to the C.P.R. rail tracks. His new mill began operating in 1917 in Sahtlam with lumber supplied by his rail-side logging operations. On March 19, 1925,the Cowichan News Leader reported that the Mayo mill cut "an average of 60 thousand feet a day." With shrewd business sense, Mayo Lumber would log sections of land, then forfeit the empty tracts back to the government as tax payments. The mill closed in 1945, but the community, by then known as Paldi, continued to work in logging. Mayo Holdings Inc. was incorporated in 1946 and became a partner, then sole operator, of the Summit mill in 1947.
The basis of what would become the Hillcrest Lumber Company was formed by Carlton Stone after he settled in Duncan in the 1910s. Stone incorporated his company in 1917 and moved to a site along the E & N Railway's Cowichan branch. In 1928, the logging and the mill made the company the third largest producer on Vancouver Island. Hillcrest established themselves at Mesachie Lake, building a community there for their mill and logging employees.
Lake Logging Co Ltd. Camp Rounds, BC
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During the mid 1920s, Mr. Neil McDonald and Mr. H.D. Murphy moved to Cowichan Lake from Campbell River and began to log the Honeymoon Bay area. In 1933, following the Depression, they sold their operation to partners Rounds and Hunter. The camp was then named Rounds. McDonald and Murphy's company became known as the Lake Logging Co., and later, after the sawmill was built in Honeymoon Bay in 1942, Lake Logging and Lumber Co.
A Vancouver company that ran their Cowichan interests under the heading Western Forest Industries took over the Lake Logging mill in 1947. After a fire at the mill and a westward move in the progress at the logging sides, WFI began to work out of a camp at Gordon River.
The Victoria Lumber and Manufacturing Company Ltd ran the largest sawmill on the Island, a sawmill with a history stretching back to the 1860's. In 1889, the VLMC bought the sawmill based in Chemainus and immediately refurbished it to increase production to a, then unheard of, 107,000 board feet per day. The sawmill was plagued with a few hiccups during its history; a fire burned it to the ground in 1923 and the company faced bankruptcy during the depression. It lived on under VLMC ownership until 1949 when the MacMillian Export Company, later to become MacMillan Bloedel, bought the mill.
H.S. Doman's company Doman's Lumber & Transport Ltd. was incorporated in 1955 as a truck transport venture. They changed their name to Doman Industries Limited in 1964, when they began sawmill and logging projects. In 1980, the business was re-formed as Western Forest Products Limited, and after some challenges, it became simply Western Forest Products in 2004. Their green trucks with the large "D"-for-Doman's logo are still a familiar site on Vancouver Island roads.