The alumni of the McDonald Cedar Mill in Fort Langley were out in full force today (May 19, 2010) for the ribbon cutting of a section of the Fort-to-Fort Trail that includes artifacts from the mill.
Parklane Homes recently received a Heritage Conservation Award from the Langley Heritage Society for incorporating many heritage elements into their Bedford Landing residential development on the former mill site.
Sawmill Foreman, John Jantzen, who worked at the mill for forty-four years was in attendance to witness the official opening of the trail complete with interpretive signage about the mill’s history.
Don Kelly and Len Jantzen, both Saw Filers, together with Barker Operator, Gordon Mufford, and Pony Saw Operator, Tom Hazard, joined their former work mate to reminisce about the mill’s heyday.
Artifacts on display along the Fort to Fort Trail include the hydraulic debarker and the control panel for the “50 foot saw”. The historic pump house on the waterfront was taken apart and restored “piece by piece” and the wharf development replicate’s the former boom crane wharf and another loading wharf. The boom crane itself is now one of the artifacts located along the trail.
The first sawmill on the Bedford Landing site is thought to have been established in 1929 or 1930, just as the great depression began. Known as ‘Young and Irvine’, the mill was established as a tie mill, using logs cut further up the Fraser River. The principals were R.H. Young, M.D. Irvine and A.H. Kidd. The mill operated on an erratic basis, depending on market conditions and the availability of timber. In time, its proprietors diversified and expanded their operations to focus on the production of dimensional lumber. By 1937 the mill had become the Fort Langley Sawmills, and was managed by Lal Singh and E. Phillips. Other managers and owners followed: J.R. Morley in 1938, E.H. Dale in 1941, and J.A. McLelland from 1942 until the early 1950’s. The mill was destroyed by fire about 1951 and the site was acquired shortly after by Bob and Ian MacDonald of New Westminster, who built McDonald Cedar Products, which operated until 1996, producing a range of cedar products, particularly cedar siding, predominantly for U.S. markets.