Fonds PR-2326 - Western Pulp Ltd. Partnership fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Western Pulp Ltd. Partnership fonds

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  • textual record
  • multiple media
  • graphic material
  • cartographic material
  • technical drawing
  • sound recording

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on content of the fonds.

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Dates of creation area


  • 1910-2006; predominant 1963-1999 (Creation)
    Western Pulp Ltd. Partnership

Physical description area

Physical description

ca. 13,000 photographs and other material

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Archival description area

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Administrative history

In 1980, in a joint venture, three B.C.-based companies (Doman Industries Ltd. of Duncan, Whonnock Industries Ltd. of Vancouver and British Columbia Forest Products Ltd. of Vancouver) acquired the B.C. holdings of Rayonier Canada Ltd. (a division of Toronto-based ITT Canada Ltd.). The three companies, with equal shares, organized Western Forest Products Ltd. (WFP) as the purchaser. In this, WFP took ownership of two historic pulp mills: the Woodfibre mill on Howe Sound near Squamish, B.C., and a sulphite dissolving pulp mill on Vancouver Island at Port Alice. Three years later, these partners formed a new company, Western Pulp Ltd. Partnership, in order to finance a $200 million modernization at Woodfibre and capital improvement projects at Port Alice.

Between 1984 and 1986 a major “rebuild” program was carried out at Woodfibre. For the next 20 years, Western Pulp Ltd. produced market pulp at Squamish (commodity-type bleached Kraft pulp), as well as pulps for specialty purposes. From the deep-sea port facility located at the mill, the company exported virtually all of its pulp, primarily to Europe, China, Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia. Including the Squamish and Port Alice mills, the company employed about 900 people in 1988.

In 1989, Doman Industries Ltd. acquired 56% control of Western Forest Products Ltd. by purchasing the shares in that company held by Fletcher Challenge Canada Ltd. (formerly BCFP) and Interfor (formerly Whonnock). The remaining shares (44%) were held by the Royal Bank of Canada and the Toronto Dominion Bank. In 1992 Western Forest Products Ltd. became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Doman Industries Ltd. when the latter acquired the remaining shares from the two banks.

In 2004, emerging from bankruptcy protection, Doman Industries Ltd. was restructured and a new company, Western Forest Products Inc., became Doman’s successor (substituting “Incorporated” for “Limited.”) Western Forest Products Inc. was formally established in April 2004, and Western Pulp Ltd. became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the new company. Also in 2004, the Port Alice mill was sold. In 2006, Western Forest Products Inc. ended their involvement in the pulp business, and closed the Squamish mill. In 2007, Western Forest Products Inc. amalgamated with its wholly-owned subsidiary, Western Pulp Ltd. The amalgamated company continues to be called Western Forest Products Inc.

Custodial history

In March 2006 the Royal BC Museum acquired the records from the mill manager of Western Pulp Limited, Squamish operations (Woodfibre). They were transferred from RBCM, Human History to BC Archives in February 2013.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of the records of Western Pulp Ltd. Partnership, mainly pertaining to the company’s Woodfibre pulp mill near Squamish, B.C. A very small number are records (mainly photographs) which pertain to the company’s pulp mill at Port Alice on northern Vancouver Island.

Most of the records date from after 1983, the year Western Pulp Ltd. Partnership was formed. However the fonds also consists of pre-1983 records which were inherited from the previous owners of the Woodfibre and Port Alice operations. Of the pre-1983 records, the majority date from the 1960s and were created by Rayonier Canada Limited.

A mill had been in operation at Woodfibre since 1912, when the British Columbia Sulphite Fibre Company Ltd. began pulp production at Mill Creek (the community was renamed Woodfibre in 1921). In 1917 ownership of the mill passed to Whalen Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd., who, in the same year, began operations at Port Alice. In 1925, these assets were purchased by the British Columbia Pulp and Paper Company Ltd., who operated the mills until 1951. At that time, the Alaska Pine Company Ltd. (owned by the Koerner family of Vancouver) joined Toronto-based Abitibi Power and Paper Company Ltd. to purchase the British Columbia Pulp and Paper Company Ltd. When the purchase was completed the combined properties of Alaska Pine Company Ltd. and the British Columbia Pulp and Paper Company Ltd. were merged. On April 25, 1951 the British Columbia Pulp and Paper Company Ltd. became Alaska Pine and Cellulose Ltd., with ownership split between the Koerner interests and Abitibi. This company now owned the pulp mills at Woodfibre and Port Alice, and employed 4,950.

In 1954 the Koerners sold their controlling interest in Alaska Pine and Cellulose Ltd. to Rayonier Inc. of New York. Alaska Pine and Cellulose Ltd. continued, now controlled by Rayonier. By 1959 Rayonier had purchased the balance of the stock, and on September 16, 1959 the Alaska Pine and Cellulose Ltd. name was changed to Rayonier Canada Limited. A second company, Rayonier B.C. Limited, was also incorporated, and in 1961 the name of that company was changed to Rayonier Canada (B.C.) Limited., who owned and operated the pulp mills until 1980.

Under Rayonier, in the 1960s, the houses in the Woodfibre townsite were demolished and families moved to Squamish and other Howe Sound communities.

It is not possible to state with certainty the function and activities which generated the records. However, a very large proportion of the records are photographs of construction projects in the mid-1980s; it appears the company intended to document the major mill modernization program of that period at Woodfibre.

In the pre-1983, inherited records, there is a particular emphasis on water-related subject matter. This includes: water supply, water licenses, water power, storage and water system infrastructure, dams, and water and precipitation data recording. Other significant subject matter of the pre-1983 records includes the mill’s appraised value and viability, property and land surveys, and historical writing about Woodfibre.

The archivist did not discover any original classification system. The archivist established artificial series based on: (1) whether the records were created by the company after 1983, or whether they were created by predecessor companies before 1983; and (2) the type of physical form and the creator’s rough organization. For example, the creator assembled most of the photographs generally in chronological order, mounted in photo albums.

The fonds consists of the following series:
MS-3129 - Photographs -- 1981-[2000?]; predominant 1984-1986
MS-3130 - Predecessor companies, office files -- 1910-2001; predominant ca. 1935-1983
MS-3131 - Office files -- 1988-2006
MS-3136 - Rayonier Canada Limited photographs -- [ca. 1963-1966]

Photographs are the predominant documentary form, including prints, negatives and 35mm slides. To a lesser degree, the fonds includes textual material, maps, plans, diagrams, and technical drawings. In the textual records, reports and studies (for example, by engineers and appraisers) are prominent. There are also company annual reports, year-end reviews, company newsletters and collected publications. There is a relatively small amount of correspondence and memoranda.

Note that by 2004, the term “Partnership” no longer appears in the company title, and the term “Woodfibre” was not officially used; therefore, records may refer to “Western Pulp Limited -- Squamish Operation” (or “Squamish Division”).

Notes area

Physical condition

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Restrictions on access

No access restrictions apply.

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Series descriptions and file lists are available.

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No further accruals expected.

General note

Accession: 2006.11

General note

Related materials note:
PR-0468, Rayonier Canada, Woodfibre Division fonds, consists of records created or inherited by Rayonier, dating back to 1917. The records were donated by Western Pulp Ltd. Partnership in 1985. Photographic records (prints and negatives) in PR-0468 (in MS-3047.5, MS-3047.6 and MS-3048) are related to the negatives in fonds PR-2326, series MS-3136.

Records of predecessor companies of Western Pulp Ltd. Partnership (including photographs of the Rayonier period in the 1960s) are also located in PR-0126, Western Forest Products Ltd. fonds.

Photographs of the Woodfibre area, town, and mill interior, dating from the 1930s, are located in PR-1127, British Columbia Pulp and Paper Company Ltd. fonds.

Some information regarding Woodfibre and Port Alice can be found in PR-0125, Western Forest Industries Ltd. fonds.

Physical description

Includes ca. 13,000 prints, negatives and 35mm slides : col. and b&w; 80 cm of textual records; ca. 125 maps, plans and diagrams; ca. 40 technical drawings; 1 audio cassette tape.

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