Wood Business

CFI’s end-of-year review and top 10 stories of 2021

December 22, 2021  By  Maria Church

The forest industry has seen its fair share of ups and downs this year as businesses and people react and adjust to the new reality of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CFI editor Ellen Cools was at the helm for much of the year (I was off on maternity leave), and she put it best in her latest editorial: “… since the pandemic began, hard-working forestry professionals across the country have gone to work every day, producing wood products that were in high demand and providing a much-needed economic boost to local communities.”

For some workers, 2021 brought a new signature on the paycheque. Acquisitions news seem to come at us more frequently this year, and experts are predicting more as the industry contracts in B.C. and companies look beyond their home base. Here’s a snapshot of what we tracked:

It was hard to look away from B.C. this year as massive changes to the province’s forest policy were hinted at, and then ultimately announced in November. The changes included a sweeping deferral of harvesting in 2.6 million hectares of forest identified as old-growth. There has been significant media coverage on the deferrals as industry and First Nations reacted to the news.


Adding to the pressure in B.C., and felt across Canada’s wood products industry, is the continued U.S. imposition of duties on Canadian softwood lumber imports.

In November, the U.S. moved to double the tariff rate on most producers to 17.9 per cent from nine per cent. The U.S. National Association of Home Builders strongly condemned the news as “the worst time” to add to U.S. housing costs.

Canada recently announced it was challenging the tariffs under Chapter 10 of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), formerly NAFTA.

The year wrapped with lumber prices surging, reacting to strong U.S. home construction activity, as noted in our latest weekly report from Madison’s Lumber Reporter.

Next year will hopefully see the return of in-person conferences for the forest industry, and we are certainly looking forward to getting out there again. Check out our list of highly anticipated events. We hope to see you there!

Until then, take a look below at what our website readers chose as our top 10 most-read articles in 2021.

Happy reading this holiday season!

[If you’d rather listen to a year in review, check out our latest podcast with MNP’s Chris Duncan.]

#10 | Final Cut: An inside look at what it’s like to be a hand faller on the BC Coast

Brendan Flanagan, founder of Maritime Timber Ltd., gives CFI readers a glimpse of what it’s like to be a hand faller on the B.C. Coast. In doing so, he explains some common misconceptions about west coast fallers and why he, along with many others, love what they do. READ MORE.


#9 | The business of sawmilling: BCIT, industry group launch second program

In January 2018, BCIT, along with four major forestry companies, launched a new educational program – the Industrial Wood Processing program – to help develop the next generation of sawmillers. The program is one of three that aim to address the talent shortage in the forest sector. CFI takes a look at the soon-to-launch second program, Business of Sawmilling. READ MORE.


#8 | Teaming up: Quebec entrepreneurs work together to seize opportunities

Stéphane Roux, Sébastien Dufour and Frédéric Bonneau, co-owners of Groupe Val in Quebec, have found opportunities by teaming up with other contractors. They work with seven forestry teams and two subsidiaries. CFI shares an inside look at their operations. READ MORE.


#7 | Introducing CFI’s ninth annual Top 10 Under 40

The Canadian Forest Industries Top 10 Under 40 program is one we look forward to every year, and this year was no exception. It was our honour to list the achievements of these incredible up-and-comers who are poised to move our industry forward in an ever-changing world. Check out the 2021 winners. READ MORE.


#6 | Opinion: Forestry does not equal deforestation – and other lessons I’ve learned as a Canadian forester

In an op-ed for CFI, Lacey Rose, forester for the County of Renfrew and co-founder of Women in Wood, shares her thoughts on what many Canadians are missing about how their forests are managed. “People who work in the woods care a lot about forests,” Rose says. Read (and share!) her full opinion piece. READ MORE.


#5 | Growth opportunity: Element5’s new mass timber facility comes online

Element5 founder Patrick Chouinard recognized the potential of prefabricated off-site mass timber manufacturing for the commercial construction industry early on. And now with Element5’s new mass timber facility up and running, the company is well-positioned to capitalize on this shift towards building with wood. Take a look inside the new facility in St. Thomas, Ont. READ MORE.


#4 | Logger pride: Q&A with A.F. Timber’s operations manager Erin Fitchett

As part of our annual Women in Forestry project, CFI editor Ellen Cools interviewed Erin Fitchett, the operations manager of Nelson, B.C.-based A.F. Timber, who began a social media movement called Logger Pride. Fitchett got candid about her career path, challenges she’s faced, and advice she has for including more women in the industry. READ MORE.


#3 | Building a niche: BC mill sees success using dry wood

Seaton Forest Products cuts dry Grade 4 wood into cants using wood that historically would have been left in the bush or burned. Now, as the B.C. Interior forest industry grapples with a decreasing fibre supply, the cant mill hopes to continue building on this niche. Read our profile on the scrappy B.C. innovators. READ MORE.


#2 | Making a mark: Inside Kalesnikoff’s $35M mass timber facility

Family-owned Kalesnikoff Lumber in Castlegar, B.C., has a long history of focusing on value-added products. Moving into mass timber was the next logical step for them, Andrew Stiffman, Kalesnikoff’s senior business development manager, tells CFI. Check out our profile on one of Canada’s newest mass timber producers, our second most-read story of 2021. READ MORE.


#1 | 2021 lumber market outlook

Unsurprisingly, the annual CFI lumber market outlook was the most-read article of 2021. Keta Kosman with Madison’s Lumber Reporter authored this year’s outlook, noting that the momentum of ongoing strong demand for new building, as well as for remodelling, will result in continued large volumes of lumber sales until the end of the year, if not longer. READ MORE.


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