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Forestry’s future leaders: Meet Thomas McCay

October 13, 2021  By Canadian Forest Industries Staff

Thomas McCay

As more forest industry professionals reach retirement, it’s more important than ever that we highlight the next generation of leaders. CFI’s annual Top 10 Under 40 contest is our way of doing so. This year marks the ninth consecutive year we have scoured nominations from across Canada to find individuals who exemplify the best of our sector, from outstanding log haulers to sawmillers, foresters and others. The result is a list of high-performing professionals who are poised to lead the industry.

To acknowledge and highlight each winner’s contributions, CFI will feature one of 2021’s winners every week for the next 10 weeks.

This week, we introduce our readers to Thomas McCay, chief forester for Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve in Haliburton, Ont.

Five years ago, Thomas McCay became a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) in Ontario. Today, at 32 years old, he is the chief forester of Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve Ltd. in Haliburton, Ont.


After completing a Master’s of Forest Conservation at the University of Toronto, he worked as a horse logging contractor and then a conventional cut-skid contractor while working towards his RPF designation, explains his manager, Malcolm Cockwell. It was only after working as a logging contractor for a few years that Thomas became a forester with Haliburton Forest.

“This boots-on-the-ground experience provides a strong foundation for his work today – and earns the respect of all the contractors that he now manages,” Cockwell says.

As the chief forester, Thomas is responsible for the sustainable management of Haliburton Forest and Wildlife. He has played a key role in the turnaround of Haliburton Forest, which owns and manages 100,000 acres of private land, says Cockwell.

He was also instrumental in the creation of a private land consulting practice called Stewardship Services, the formation of the Haliburton Forest Research Institute, the start-up of hardwood sawmill Almaguin Forest, the recent acquisition of Huntsville Forest Products, and more.

“It is hard to imagine that there are any young forestry professionals as dedicated to the advancement of the sustainable management of hardwood forests in Ontario or in the world,” Cockwell says.

Up next: we showcase the achievements of winner Janis Simpkins.

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