6.3: Pulp and Paper Mills
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While lumber was and is a vital part of the forestry industry, pulp and paper mills increased in importance in the 20th century due to global demand. By the 1930s both Powell River and Ocean Falls were important producers of pulp. By 1951, Prince Rupert, Duncan Bay, Port Alberni, Marmac and Victoria added pulp and paper mills and the demand increased throughout the 1960s.
Multinational corporations were encouraged to invest in the forestry industry, and in the 1960s Weyerhaeuser (an American company) developed a state-of-the-art pulp mill in Kamloops, which produced more than just pulp. Weyerhaeuser owned sawmills that allowed them to have the rights to the raw materials and much more control over the end uses. Having both sawmills and pulp mills made economic sense because the by-products of the sawmills could be used.
In the 1960s and 1970s, major investments were being made in production in BC’s Interior, as both the road and railway systems had increased to give more access to forest resources. The 1970s saw production increase but consolidation and integration meant fewer mills. New mills were more efficient, so older mills on the coast were pressured to compete more effectively with Interior investments. By the 1990s and early 2000s, increased economic pressure from a globalized market resulted in Prince Rupert, Powell River, Port Alice and Port Alberni mills being restructured, and the Gold River Mill closed.