On the Forest Industry in Ontario Part 3: North of Superior

In a couple of older posts, I explored some of the forest products mills to the west of the ACR line on the CN and Ontario Northland railways in north-east Ontario and north-west Quebec with an eye to mills that could have provided some amount of bridge traffic over the ACR. (For mills served directly by the ACR, see these older posts on paper, lumber and other forest products traffic on the ACR.)

I’ve never discussed here anything west of the ACR though, and it is known from photographic and other evidence that shipments of wood pulp, wood chips, logs and lumber to or from various mills to the west to, from, or over the ACR did happen on a regular basis. This posting, similar to ones before it, will try to explore some of the mills north of Lake Superior west of the ACR line.

As usual, if anyone knows of any I’ve missed, or can expound upon or correct any information presented here, I welcome your comments. It’s difficult to actually get a coherent history on some of these mills and companies from online searches.

Note on company names: similar to previous posts, companies are listed by their mid 1980s name where possible, since that’s kinda my operating era, and describe the history within the text as best as I can determine using online resources.

Additional note on corporate consolidations: The Minnesota and Ontario Paper Company (a.k.a. M&O or Mando) operated a several mills in north-western Ontario and northern Minnesota until being acquired by Boise Cascade Company in 1965. In 1995 the former Mando Canadian mills were sold by Boise to Abitibi-Consolidated. Abitibi-Consolidated went through a major merger with Bowater Inc. in 2007 to create the Abitibi-Bowater company, which renamed to Resolute Forest Products in 2011 and continues to do business under that name today.

You’ll notice in the histories below (and in some of the previous postings in this series) a theme of widespread mill closures during the period of about 2007-2009, when the Canadian forestry took a significant hit due to economic factors and trade disputes and tariffs related to softwood lumber between the USA and Canada.

White River (CP) – White River Forest Products (Lumber mill)

Operated by White River Forest Products, this mill is still operational as an independent mill today.

Terrace Bay (CP) – Kimberly Clark (Pulp mill)

This is one of the prime candidates for a large amount of the Canadian Pacific wood pulp boxcars being shipped over the Algoma Central into Michigan and Wisconsin or beyond.

Of additional interest, from the late 1970s to early 1990s Kimberly Clark owned their own fleet of 150 pulpwood flatcars (with KCWX reporting marks) to support log shipments to their mill. For several years they ran a unit train operation of pulpwood logs from a siding at Hillsport on CN to Terrace Bay via Manitouwadge. Reg Fitzpatrick, former ACR agent/operator at Franz, has indicated that occasionally some of the Kimberly Clark cars would be sent up to Mosher for loading, with logs shipped to Terrace Bay or Thorold, Ontario.

Also coincidentally some of the former Kimberly Clark cars were later acquired by WC and numbered into the AC 238500 series in the late 1990s.

Marathon (CP) – James River Marathon Ltd. (Pulp mill)

This is the second major candidate for a source of wood pulp boxcars routing over the ACR from Franz to Sault Ste. Marie for US export.

Like Kimberly Clark at Terrace Bay, this was a pulp mill, producing market pulp for shipment to other finishing mills and not finished papers. The mill (and town) was established in 1944 by Marathon Paper Mills (a subsidiary of Marathon Corporation out of Wisconsin) with the mill completing construction in 1946. In 1957 the mill was sold to American Can of Canada (renamed America Can Canada Inc. in 1980). In 1982 American Can sold assets to James River Corporation of Virginia and the mill became know as James River Marathon Inc. (In 1997 parent company James River Corp. merged with Fort Howard Paper Co. and renamed Fort James Corporation.) In 2000 the mill was acquired by a partnership of Tembec and Kruger and named Marathon Pulp Inc. The Marathon operation went bankrupt and was shut down in 2009, and the mill later demolished.

This mill was the destination for large amounts of wood chips shipped out of the Dubreuil Forest Products mill on the Algoma Central at Dubreuilville. During the 1960s, chips were shipped in regular boxcars (provided by CP for this service). From the mid 1970s to mid 1980s, the mill on the ACR was apparently somewhat dormant from a rail-shipping perspective, but around 1986 they reconfigured some rail spurs into the mill and started shipping out lumber and wood chips again. This time chips were loaded into 50′-60′ gondola cars, again provided by CP for this service. (I’m told CP had about 100-150 cars assigned to this service, with the mill shipping up to 20 cars a day of chips between Dubreuilville and Franz. The ACR ran a dedicated afternoon/evening job for Franz/Dubreuilville switching requirements and empty cars were stored at Wanda siding between Franz and Dubreuilville.) These shipments from the ACR ended by 2007 when the supplying mill at Dubreuilville closed. Chips were also supplied to marathon from a sawmill in Chapleau on the CPR east of the Wawa area.

Also, I’m seeing in early 1950s AC timetables a Marathon Paper Mills spur at mile 294.8 connecting off the AC-CNR wye at Wyborn. It’s possible to infer (though not confirm) that logs could have been shipped from this spur via Franz. It’s also possible they could ship via CNR through Nakina and Manitouwadge.

Red Rock (CN and CP) – Domtar (Paper mill)

In 1937 Lake Sulphite Pulp Company began construction of a pulp mill but went into receivership about a year later and the mill construction halted. After a brief stint as a POW camp during the early years of World War II, the property was purchased by Brompton Pulp & Paper Company/St. Lawrence Corporation and construction on a new integrated mill began in 1944 and opened in 1945. In 1961 the St. Lawrence Corporation was merged into Dominion Tar & Chemical (Domtar) and in 1997 was organized as Norampac, a joint venture of Domtar and Cascades.

Of interest, CP for a time handled wood chips into this mill in 40′ and 50′ de-roofed boxcars although the ACR was not a source for this traffic.

This mill closed down in 2007, a victim of a downturn in the forest industry at that time, and has since been demolished.

Nakina (CN) – Nakina Forest Products (Lumber mill)

There a YouTube video from 2007 of a southbound freight at Franz showing several loads from Nakina Forest Products and Long Lake Lumber (next entry), so this is one we can actually prove as a specific source of traffic.

This mill closed down in 2008, but restarted operations in 2017 as Nakina Lumber Inc., owned by Buchanan Sawmills. I couldn’t find much other history online on when this mill was established.

Longlac (CN) – Long Lake Lumber (Lumber mill)

Once again I couldn’t find much detailed early history on this one, but in 2012 the bankrupt mill closed but was reorganized and re-opened in 2013 as Longlac Lumber Inc.

Dryden (CP) – Weyerhaeuser? (Paper mill)

The beginnings of the current mill at Dryden were built in 1913 by Dryden Timber and Power Company. It went through a few ownership and name changes afterwards; in the 1960s it changed to Dryden Paper Company, and after a few more changes at some point (the when is not clear) it was acquired by forestry giant Weyerhaeuser, who in turn sold this mill to Domtar in 2007, who still owns and operates the mill today.

The Dryden mill produces a full range of finished and coated papers.

Kenora (CP) – Kenora Forest Products (Lumber mill)

I couldn’t find a lot of history on this mill but it was acquired by the current owner in 1994 and idled in 2008, but reopened in 2015.

Kenora (CP) – Weyerhauser (lumber mill)

Thanks to a commenter on this post who highlighted this mill. Opened in 2002 by Weyerhaeuser, this mill produces laminated strand lumber (LSL) under the brand names Trus Joist and TimberStrand. Obviously that date means it wasn’t around during my own modeling time frame, but it could be a good source of traffic for a contemporary modeler.

Kenora (CP) – Boise Cascade (Pulp and Paper mill)

This mill was originally built in 1924 (although I couldn’t immediately dig up the original company name) and acquired by Minnesota and Ontario Paper Co. (Mando) in 1941, which was merged with Boise Cascade Company in 1965. In 1978 the Kenora and Fort Frances locations were officially renamed Boise Cascade Canada Ltd.

The mill underwent an extensive modernization program in the early 1980s and in 1995 the Boise Cascade Canada mills were sold to Abitibi-Consolidated.

In 2005 the mill was permanently closed by Abitibi-Consolidated.

Of particular interest with this mill, was a group of boxcars owned by the Minnesota, Dakota & Western Railroad (which was a subsidiary owned by Boise Cascade) built in 1969 by National Steel Car and featuring Boise Cascade lettering that were marked for international service and assigned to loading at this mill. These cars were sold or returned to lessor and had their lease transferred to CP in 1987, renumbering into a CPAA series – the only Canadian built cars ever to bear CPAA reporting marks.

Fort Frances (MD&W/IB&T) – Boise Cascade (Pulp and Paper mill)

Established in 1914, this mill has a similar history to the one at Kenora, both being owned by Minnesota and Ontario Paper before being acquired by Boise Cascade in 1965 and sold to Abitibi-Consolidated in 1995. Like the Kenora mill it produced pulp and un-coated paper/newsprint. The most recent owner of the mill was Resolute Forest Products, however the mill has been idle since 2012. As of spring 2019, it appears that Resolute has been entertaining bids for sale of the Fort Frances property.

The Fort Frances mill is pretty much guaranteed to not be contributing any bridge traffic to the ACR though, as they are significantly west of the Superior lakehead and situated right on the Ontario/Minnesota border – actually served by a branch of the Minnesota, Dakota & Western/International Bridge and Terminal Railway running across the river from International Falls, Minnesota. Traffic interchanges to the CN/DW&P via the MD&W in International Falls and any traffic flowing to the US midwest would just go south from there. However it remains an interesting addition to the list and could be of interest to someone modeling other lines pulling traffic from northern Ontario.

Also of note is the even larger mill (established in 1910) immediately across the river in International Falls served by the MD&W, also formerly owned by Minnesota and Ontario Paper and Boise Cascade and now owned by Packaging Corporation of America (PCA).

On the Forest Industry in Northern Ontario & Quebec – Part 2: Quebec

Continued from Part 1. (See notes in Part 1 on major consolidations and mergers.)

A pair of local family-owned companies, Normick-Perron, owned by the Perron brothers of La Sarre before being sold to Noranda Forest (later Nexfor) in 1989, and Forex, owned by the Cossette family of Val d’Or, figure pretty heavily on the scene in the Abitibi region during the 1980s, with pretty big expansions during the 1970s with consolidations and acquisitions of many other local family-owned businesses.

La Sarre, QC

Normick-Perron (OSB/panelboard) – This Normick-Perron mill was built in the mid 1950s by H. Perron et Fils and the only Nexfor property in the region not sold off in the early 2000s and operates today as Norboard, Inc. (since 2004), a major supplier of oriented strandboard products.

Normick-Perron (lumber) – In 1970 H. Perron et Fils merged with JH Normick of La Sarre to form Normick-Perron. During the early 1970s the Perron family concentrated their sawmill operations in the nearby area in La Sarre. The lumber mill was sold by Nexfor to Tembec in 2003 and as far as I can tell is also still operating.

Taschereau, QC

Taschereau Lumber(?) (lumber) – Couldn’t find a lot of detailed information on this one but it was acquired by Tembec in 1987 and operated by that company until permanently shuttered in 2009. I did at one point randomly come across a e-bay slide of a CN flatcar loaded with un-wrapped lumber with a “Taschereau” stamp, so likely this was an independently operating mill as Taschereau Lumber or Forest Products (or the French version thereof).

Amos, QC

Materiaux Blanchet (lumber) – Materiaux Blanchet purchased the Amos sawmill in 1982 from Theo Ayotte and continues to maintain a significant operation here today.

Normick-Perron (lumber) – Normick-Perron acquired a sawmill in Amos from J.E. Thierrien in 1972. I haven’t been able to track the history of this one, but in addition to the large active Materiaux Blanchet mill today, there appears to be a pair of clearly abandoned sawmills visible in the Google satellite imagery of this town but I’m not sure when or under what name the mills were operating when closed.

Normick-Donohue (newsprint) – Established in 1979 as a joint partnership between Normick-Perron (later Noranda Forest Products/Nexfor) and Donohue, Inc. under the name Normick-Donohue to produce newsprint, in 1995 Nexfor sold off their stake to Donohue. In 2000, Donohue, Inc. was acquired by Abitibi-Consolidated (currently Resolute Forest Products) and this mill is still in operation today.

Landrienne, QC

CBRY 1527

Flatcar load of lumber from Scierie Landrienne on the ONR at Cochrane, ON. My photo July 16, 2013.

Scierie Landrienne (lumber) – This independent mill was established in 1979 and continues to operate under the same name today although the company was purchased by Chantier Chibougamau in 2015 – another local company based in Chibougamau, QC.

Barraute, QC

Maibec/Optibois? (lumber) – Not entirely sure of the history of this mill, but it looks like it was sold to Materiaux Blanchet in 1988. It doesn’t appear to be listed on Materiaux Blanchet’s web site as a current operation, and some Googling isn’t turning up much useful, and it looks like it’s been shut down and abandoned.

Senneterre, QC

Normick-Perron (lumber) – In 1976 Normick-Perron purchased a sawmill in Senneterre from Paradis & Fils. This mill was sold to Tembec by Nexfor in 2003. In late 2016, Tembec announced the sale of this mill to Resolute Forest Products.

Saucier? (lumber) – another locally owned sawmill in Senneterre was sold to Donohue, Inc. in 1988. In 2000, Donohue was acquired by Abitibi-Consolidated (later Abitibi-Bowater, then Resolute Forest Products) and this mill is still in operation today.

Matagami, QC

Bisson & Bisson (lumber) – Bisson & Bisson first established a sawmill in Matagami in 1968 and relocated to the current location in 1974 after a fire. The mill was acquired by Domtar in 1988, and subsquently by EACOM in 2010. The mill is still in operation today, although CN has indicated an intention to abandon the branch line serving this mill so it may soon lose rail service.

Quevillon, QC

Domtar (pulp/paper) – the paper mill at Quevillon (and the neighbouring community of Lebel-sur-Quevillon) was established by the Domnion Tar & Chemical Co. (Domtar) in 1966. The mill produced softwood kraft pulp and paper, and in 1974 Domtar built a sawmill connected to this facility. The Domtar mill at Quevillon operated into the early 2000s but was closed permanently in 2008. In 2012 the non-operating mill was sold to Fortress Paper with the intention of converting the mill to produce high-cellulose “dissolving pulp”, however a change in market conditions (high import tariffs implemented by China) scuttled this. In 2016 the mill property and assets were sold to Nexolia Bioenergy.

Val d’Or, QC

Forex (lumber) – Not sure of early history, but it was owned by Forex in the 1980s and sold to Domtar in 1985. Currently in operation as EACOM’s Val d’Or mill. Side note: this mill appears to be the current destination of a large move of pulpwood traffic off the former ACR.

Forex (lumber) – A second lumber mill in Val d’Or, this mill was acquired from the Sullivan family in 1980 and sold to Domtar in 1985. Currently in operation as EACOM’s Sullivan mill.

Forex (OSB/Particleboard) -If I understand what I’ve read correctly (on a French site using Google Translate), this mill was started by Forex in 1975 and operated under the name Forpan during the early 1980s. Sold to Uniboard in 1987 and still doing business today under that name.

Malartic, QC

Forex (lumber) – Another Forex mill in the Val d’Or area sold to Domtar in 1985. Not too sure of history before that. Domtar closed the mill in 1997.

On the Forest Industry in Northern Ontario & Quebec – Part 1: Ontario

During a couple of visits over 2013-2015 to Northern Ontario to investigate and railfan some of what remains of the Algoma Central’s operations as well as the other regional lines such as the Huron Central and Ontario Northland, I noticed westbound loads of lumber travelling towards Hearst from companies like Scierie Landriene, EACOM and Resolute Forest Products that I knew (or was pretty sure) didn’t have local mills served directly by the Ontario Northland, but had come from much further afield from the CN in northern Quebec (interchanged to the ONR via Rouyn-Noranda and routed to Hearst via Englehart and Cochrane). Also, I saw empty pulpwood flatcars heading back to Hearst after having delivered logs cut somewhere on the former ACR territory to one or more of these mills in Quebec.

CN at Wyborn

Southbound freight at the old ACR Wyborn siding in Hearst, ON. In the first four cars are loads of lumber from Tembec, EACOM and Scierie Landrienne, as well as a high-cube boxcar probably loaded with paper. My photo, July 17, 2015.

Obviously this made me interested in finding out where some of these mills were located – and if possible to find out what companies operated them during the mid 1980s – as the possibility of some interesting and realistic bridge traffic off the CN at Hearst would be great enhancement to the operations planning on my future ACR layout. (Also, if I could be even luckier and find appropriate images of lumber loads with correct company heralds to model…)

Tracking the ownership history of each individual mill is a bit dizzying with entire companies being frequently merged, sold/acquired and renamed as well as individual mills being sold between companies. I may have made some mistakes (corrections and/or clarifications are welcome) and I’ve quite probably missed some, but to me I feel I definitely have more than enough information to be able to have a nice sample set of realistic bridge traffic opportunities.

Also note that this research has been specifically limited only to mills along the CN (former National Transcontinental) line through Hearst-Cochrane-Senneterre (and its branches) and the Ontario Northland that might have plausibly generated westbound bridge traffic over a portion or all of the ACR route. For information on mills served directly by the ACR, see my previous posts from my Operations series on paper, lumber and other forest products traffic that already cover this information.

Some general notes on some of the larger corporations and companies:

Normick-Perron, operator of several mills in the area was sold to Noranda Forest Inc. in 1989. Noranda later renamed Nexfor in 1998. In the early 2000s, Nexfor sold off sawmill assets to Tembec and split into two companies to each focus on their own objectives in 2004: Norboard (OSB/Panelboard products) and Fraser Papers (paper products).

Abitibi Paper Co. (formerly Abitibi Power & Paper Co.) merged with Price Inc. to become Abitibi-Price in 1979, with futher major mergers with Stone Consolidated Corp. to form Abitibi-Consolidated in 1997, and Bowater in 2007 to create Abitibi-Bowater. In 2011 Abitibi-Bowater was renamed Resolute Forest Products under which it continues to do business today.

Tembec is a major forestry operator today, although does not really appear on the scene during my time frame. Tembec was formed in 1973 to operate the former Canadian International Paper pulp mill in Temiscaming, QC with their first sawmill acquisition in the same area (served by the CPR northeast of North Bay, ON and not really relevant to any bridge traffic that could have operated on the ACR) in 1986. However since then Tembec has come to acquire a very large number of operations in both Ontario and Quebec.

Update – in November 2017 Tembec was acquired by Rayonier Advanced Materials (RYAM).

The E.B. Eddy company operated several mills in northern Ontario including during the late 1990s the ex-Weyerhaeuser/G.W. Martin lumber & veneer mill in Sault Ste. Marie served by the ACR. E.B. Eddy was acquired by Domtar in 1998. Domtar also acquired several mills in the Abitibi-Temiscaming region in Quebec from Forex in 1985. In 2010 Domtar sold their sawmill assets to EACOM Timber.

So, without further ado, moving roughly west to east on the map and listing mills by what as far as I can tell was the operating name around 1985:

Calstock, ON

NOKL 732348

Flatcar load of lumber from Lecours Lumber at Wyborn (Hearst, ON) – my photo, July 16, 2015

Lecours Lumber (lumber) – This mill has been privately owned and operated since 1943 and continues to be one of the largest privately owned mills in Ontario.

Hearst, ON

Tembec Hearst

A portion of the Tembec (formerly Malette, formerly United Sawmills, formerly Fontaine Lumber) mill next to the Ontario Northland yard at Hearst, ON. My photo, July 17, 2015

United Sawmills (lumber) – Formerly Fontaine lumber, becoming United Sawmills in 1982. In 1990 the mill was sold to Malette, Inc. of Timmins, ON and was subsequently purchased by Tembec in 1995 and still operates today.

Levesque Lumber (lumber) – J.D. Levesque operated a couple of small sawmills in the early 1950s (with one located next to the ACR at Wyborn) but the most recent sawmill/planer appears to have been built in the early 1960s (and rebuilt once or twice in the 1970s) at the east end of Hearst. Levesque Lumber went out of business in 1992, although a group of investors operated the planer under the name Tricept until 2006.

Levesque Plywood (plywood, particleboard) – Not to be confused with J.D. Levesque Lumber (which I did for quite a while), Levesque Plywood was formed in the early 1960s by two of J.D.’s sons. The company survived the mill’s destruction by fire in 1965 and continued to expand in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The mill was sold to Columbia Forest Products in 1995 and still operates today. Side note: when I visited Sault Ste. Marie in 2004, Columbia Forest Products was operating a log reload (into flatcars) on a portion of the former Algoma Central shops property behind the former car shop.

Kapuskasing, ON

Spruce Falls Power & Paper Co. (newsprint) – This mill was established in 1926 as a partnership between Kimberly-Clark and the New York Times. The mill has been the exclusive supplier of newsprint to the Times since 1928 and the bulk of traffic from this mill goes south/east over the Ontario Northland. I don’t know if the mill ONLY provides newsprint to the NY Times, but it seems like a good excuse for the occasional car or two of newsprint sent to a midwest paper. In 1997 Tembec became the sole owner of this mill which still operates today.

Side note: of particular interest, during the late 1960s this mill leased a fleet of 75 boxcars from Pullman’s Transport Leasing Co. (and another 20 cars were leased by CN from TLCX) in an attractive forest green scheme with large billboard lettering, although these cars were returned to the lessor in 1973* and thereafter CN provided the mill with their own cars. (*The cars were subsequently leased by Canadian Pacific and numbered in the CPAA 899xx range until 1987.)

Smooth Rock Falls, ON

Abitibi-Price (pulp) – Another old mill established in the early 1900s, Abitibi sold the mill to Malette in 1989, and this became a Tembec operation when Tembec purchased Malette in 1995. Unfortunately this mill closed down permanently in 2006 and the site was demolished.

Cochrane, ON

Normick-Perron (plywood) – Producing aspen plywood, this mill is currently operated by Rockshield Engineered Wood Products, whose web site indicates it was originally built in 1963 by the Perron family, which should allow us to trace it’s ownership via Normick-Perron, Noranda Forest/Nexfor, and Tembec.

Normick-Perron(?) (lumber) – Adjacent to the plywood mill is a large lumber mill. I had a hard time coming up with any detailed information on the history of this specific mill online but it’s current owner is Tembec (now Rayonier). It was possibly also a former Perron property associated with the plywood mill.

Iroquois Falls, ON

Abitibi-Price (newsprint) – Another Abitibi mill (this one served by a branch of the Ontario Northland) this is one that I can actually CONFIRM has shipped paper over the ACR at least at some point. Over on the Green Bay & Western Lines website, they have a collection of waybill data for a nearly two month period of cars delivered to the Ahnapee & Western Railway in Green Bay, WI and there’s one waybill recorded of an Ontario Northland boxcar loaded with paper for a local newspaper and it’s routed over the ACR (AC&HB as it was then still known). Resolute Forest Products shut down this mill in 2015 and subsequently demolished the mill.

Kirkland Lake, ON

Normick-Perron (lumber) -Located on the Ontario Northland’s branch to Rouyn-Noranda, QC. Similar to the Cochrane mill I didn’t find a lot of information on the history of this one; it was eventually owned by Tembec but has been idle since 2008.

Edit: since this was originally posted, this mill seems to have been resurrected as Kirkland Lake Forest Products, with product exclusively marketed/distributed by EACOM.

Englehart, ON

Grant Forest Products (OSB) – Another privately-owned family business founded in 1980, Grant Forest Products established an OSB mill in Englehart, ON and eventually expanded to several facilities in Ontario, Alberta and South Carolina. After falling into bankruptcy during the late-2000s recession, Grant’s assets including the Englehart mill and a secondary facility a few miles south in Earlton were sold to Georgia-Pacific in 2010 and are still operated by G-P today. Another Grant Forest Products facility in Timmins had been permanently closed in 2006 and later demolished. I’m guessing that most or all of output from this mill would have gone south over the ONR via North Bay however.

Timmins, ON

Grant Forest Products – See notes above under Englehart.

E.B. Eddy Forest Products (lumber) – located at the end of Ontario Northland’s Timmins branch, E.B. Eddy operated a sawmill produced board lumber. As noted above, in 1998 E.B. Eddy was merged into Domtar, and in 2010 the mill went to EACOM along with other Domtar properties. EACOM appears to still be operating this mill today, however there is no longer any rail service, with Ontario Northland having abandoned service to Timmins in the late 1980s.

Freight Car Friday #52 – WC Paper Boxcars

Photographed at Sault Ste. Marie in August 2004, WC 21648 is a typical example of the modern high-capacity 50′ boxcar design built for paper service. This particular car is part of series WC 21550-21649 built by Greenbrier’s Trenton Works in 1997.

The second car coupled to the left of 21648 is WC 26010, an older ex-SOO Line car also commonly still in paper service at the time. Both of these types of cars would have been the typical sight at the St. Marys Paper mill during the 1990s and 2000s.

Paper traffic on the ACR

The primary source of paper traffic on the ACR was of course the old St. Marys Paper mill in Sault Ste. Marie. The original pulp mill dates back to the 1890s, and through a couple of name changes and significant expansions over the years, lasted until 2007 when the mill was shut down for good. The mill buildings, except for surviving parts of the original 1890 mill have since been demolished.

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St. Marys Paper mill in 1992 from the International Highway Bridge. Nell vanderHeide photo.

Despite having exclusive access to serve the paper mill, the Algoma Central rostered no boxcars for this service. Instead, as pretty much all of the mill’s output was exported south to the US, empty cars were provided by Canadian Pacific and SOO Line, and later primarily by Wisconsin Central.

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St. Marys Paper switcher, June 2000

St. Marys performed their own in-plant switching with their own engine, exchanging cars with the Algoma Central via several interchange tracks at the north west end of the property. ACR yard jobs would then accordingly deliver the cars to the CP/SOO interchange tracks.

In addition to the St. Marys mill in Sault Ste. Marie, additional paper traffic would also travel over the ACR from mills on the CN at Kapuskasing and Smooth Rock Falls and the Ontario Northland at Iroquois Falls bound for mid-west US destinations. Any westbound traffic that might have come these locations for central Canada or the west coast may have also traveled over the ACR from Hearst to Oba to continue westward on the CN main line.