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Lumber Industry in Canada

Relative importance of the lumber industry

The Canadian sawmills and wood preservation industry contributed nearly $7.6 billion to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2006. This is the equivalent of 4.4% of the manufacturing sector’s GDP, and 0.7% of the entire Canadian economy. This industry is also a key player in the export market, accounting for more than 4% of total Canadian merchandise exports.

In 2006, the sawmills and wood preservation industry sustained more than 54,400 direct jobs across Canada. In addition to direct jobs, it generated significant economic benefits through the support of indirect jobs. It is estimated that an additional 90,600 jobs in other industries were related to the wood industry.1 So altogether the industry provides over 145,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The sawmills and wood preservation industry is also at the heart of the forest industry since it uses primarily Canadian inputs. In fact, its raw material is logs harvested by logging companies. This sector of activity directly employed close to 60,000 workers in 2006. In addition, the wood chips produced by the lumber industry are used by the pulp and paper sector which employed roughly 87,000 workers in 2006. Thus, more generally, the wood industry plays a key role in the development of more than 300 rural and remote communities, from which at least 50% of its revenue is generated.2 It is, therefore, an essential component in the economic prosperity of certain regions.

Indeed, Canada is known as a country with many natural resources. It has up to 10% of the world’s forest coverage, 25% of the world’s wetlands, and more than 20% of the world’s fresh water.3 In 2005, Canada was the second largest producer of lumber in the world, with 16% of worldwide production, and the top world exporter with 30% of the international lumber trade.4 Canada sells its forestry products to over 100 countries; its biggest export markets are the United States, the European Union and Japan.

Not surprisingly, the health of the Canadian wood industry nowadays is a key concern for many Canadians. This industry has to deal with many basic trends such as market globalization, acceleration of technological innovation and compliance with the principles of sustainable development. As if this were not enough, it must also face protectionist pressure from its main trading partner, the US, a strong Canadian dollar, an increase in energy and raw material costs, as well as a drop in the price of lumber.

See Statistics Canada for further information on the current situation.

History of the Lumber Industry of America
By James Elliott Defebaugh (1906).
This book is in two volumes with the first volume concentrating on the Canadian lumber industry with the second concentrating on the USA industry. For this site we are providing the first volume for you to read here.

Native Trees of Canada
By Boyd R. Morton

Logging History North Western Ontario
A half hour video

Woodsmen of the West
By M. Allerdale Grainger (1908) (pdf)

Lumbering In Northern Ontario (1923)
An old black & white silent film

Lumbering and Wood-Working Industries in the United States and Canada
Together with notes on British Practice and Suggestions for India by Frederick Alexander Leete (1919) (pdf)

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