Early 1960′s - Roy and Bev Ewashko started in Whitecourt, Alberta with a portable mill driven by a tractor. Production totalled about 5,000 board feet (enough to build 1/2 of a house, and 40% of the log fibre was used).
1950 to 1964 - Roy first arrived in Fort McMurray to fight fires and cruise (verify harvestable) timber for Nelson Lumber company. Bev, the family, and the portable sawmill shortly followed to work the winter landscape. This operation could only run in the winter, as the muskeg in the summer made access to the timber too difficult.
1970 - Northland Forest Products Ltd was created by Roy and Bev. Soon after, Roy bought his own quota for timber and continued to operate a portable mill.
1975 – The first stationary mill was built on what is the Burnco Rock Products site today at the junction of Confederation Way and Highway 63. It was constructed of wood.
1981 – Northland moved to its current location and built a new mill out of steel 16 kilometers north of the City of Fort McMurray. Production increased to approximately 90,000 board feet (about three truckloads per day).
1986 – Kiln added to dry lumber and decrease shipping cost to consumers.
1987 - Sorter and stacker added; these procedure were previously all done by hand.
1992 - Expansion of the mill to produce wood chips for Alberta Pacific Forest Industries Inc (ALPAC) began, increasing the percentage of log fibre usage to 70%.
1996 - One of Canada’s first HEWSAW machines was installed to handle small wood and curved wood coming into the mill.
1997 to 1999 - Roy and Bev’s sons, Howard and Craig, bought Northland Forest Products Ltd. to continue their parents’ legacy. The brothers designed and built a new “state of the art” sawmill to increase production and efficiency and in turn decrease costs and wood waste. This mill produced 250,000 board feet (enough to build 25 houses and 80% of the log fibre was used).
1999 - The planer mill was completely rebuilt to handle the increased production of the sawmill.
2001 - A new office showcasing Northland’s products was built. Production at this time had increased to 300,000 board feet (about 10 truckloads per day).
2005 - Found a market for wood shavings produced from the planer mill. This reduced wood waste and increased the log fibre usage to 85%.
2008 - Construction of a gasifier was completed. All wood waste previously not utilized is sized or hogged to be used in the gasifier to generate heat energy to supply the 2 kilns, the sawmill, the planermill and other buildings on site. This allowed whitewood waste to be separated and sold along with hogfuel into new markets.
2009 - Man made decisions regarding utilization of fiber resource become non existent in the planer mill with the installation of an automated grading system.
2010 - Constructed a new building to facilitate further product development within the market, facilitate value added manufacturing, and loading of vans to enter new markets and reduce shipping costs.
Currently - The sawmill produces 300,000 board feet a day, (approximately 30 houses). 100% of the wood fibre harvested and hauled into the mill is used. 2-3 seedlings are planted for every tree taken (approximately 2.2 million) per year. We are continuously investigating opportunities for use of fibre supply to increase its value and to explore new markets.