'We are forestry people'

Terry Roberts
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RESOURCES Botwood woods contractor tries to stay upbeat in face of mill closure

It's bound to be a sentimental and difficult few days for Glenn Peyton, the Botwood woods contractor whose family has supplied fibre to the newsprint mill in Grand Falls-Windsor for 70 years.

On Monday or Tuesday, one of his trucks will likely be the last to deliver a load of wood to the mill, which is expected to cease production by next weekend after a century of making paper.

It's bound to be a sentimental and difficult few days for Glenn Peyton, the Botwood woods contractor whose family has supplied fibre to the newsprint mill in Grand Falls-Windsor for 70 years.

On Monday or Tuesday, one of his trucks will likely be the last to deliver a load of wood to the mill, which is expected to cease production by next weekend after a century of making paper.

He plans to be there and take a picture.

On Thursday he'll be able to look out his living room window and watch a paper boat dock at the port in Botwood, likely for the last time ever. The town has been a point of departure for paper bound for international markets for decades.

"It finally struck me this morning as I was going to work," Peyton, 63, said Friday.

"What does a person do after quarter to five in the morning? I have been going to work at that hour for 38 years."

Peyton and his son Chad, the fourth generation Peyton to work in the business, will also oversee the transport of about $4 million in logging and trucking equipment to their storage yard in Botwood. The senior Peyton fears the yard will become a "graveyard" for the mechanical tree harvesters, forwarders and transport trucks.

"The market for this stuff across the country is as bad as it is here. Nobody wants it and nobody needs it. There's nowhere to get rid of it," Peyton said.

Peyton's company, G.P. Peyton Limited, is the biggest of three independent contracting companies that supplied wood to the mill.

Ironically, the company is coming off one of its busiest years ever.

When another contractor pulled out last year, he agreed to run his operation 24-hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.

But it all came to a halt this week when the cash-strapped company that owns the mill, AbitibiBowater, announced the closure of the woods division, and that the mill would fall silent sometime between Feb. 12 and 15.

Some 750 jobs will be lost, and the Central Newfoundland economy will lose an industry that has sustained the region for many generations.

The 450 mill workers will stay on the job until the end of March, securing and cleaning up the facility. But it's all over for Peyton and the 60 men who worked for his company.

A few of his trucks will transport excess pulpwood to the province's only remaining newsprint mill Corner Brook. That will only take a few days, Peyton said.

He now has to figure out what to do next.

"We would like to carry on in business. We are forestry people. We are not construction people. We don't build buildings. This company decided to shut down. I couldn't do anything about that, so we have to pursue other things," he said.

Peyton has experienced tremendous changes in the woods industry over the years, including the transition from manual to mechanical harvesting.

His company operated the last drive on the Exploits River, and operated the last logging camp. His future is uncertain, but he's determined to make sure the forest industry is a part of it.

"I'm a forest engineer and that's what I do. It's just a matter of sitting back and trying to decide what to do next," he said.

troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: G.P. Peyton

Geographic location: Botwood, Grand Falls-Windsor, Central Newfoundland Corner Brook Exploits River

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Recent comments

  • JK
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    So how much did this company take from tax payers over all those years?

  • Ken
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    JK are you still in high school? This company fed most of Newfoundland for close to 100 years. Go take a history lesson. Better still read Sally Taylor's book .. The Great Outsiders. Educate yourself before you make such stupid comments about this province's forest industry.

  • Jon
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    I have known Glenn all of my life. Sad to see the end of an era. Best wishes Glenn and good luck for the future.

  • Poger
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Glen provided a valuable service for the paper mill and did it with class .. not to mention safely. He and the other contractors are helpless victims to an industry that has been plauged by high labour costs, a moving Canadian dollar, a declining market and a company that is debt ridden and strapped for cash. I wish Glen and all of the contractors the very best as they move forward. This is the start of many sad stories to come out of the demise of the paper industry here.

    A team player in every aspect... Best of Luck Glen.

  • KWD
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    The Glenn Peyton story isnt unique; its happening across this country, its happening in all sectors not just forestry and, indeed, its happening around the world.

    Peyton and others are symptoms of globalization run amok. Those that benefited the most that would be the money changers, banksters and corporate leaders could give a rats rectum about Peyton and everyone else linked to primary resource industries.

    The great financial bailout fraud will keep handing out billions of bucks to those that created this mess.

    Globalization is an economy boosting drug concocted by economists on steroids and folks like Peyton are starting to feel the side effects of withdrawal. It wont be pleasant to watch.

  • JK
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    So how much did this company take from tax payers over all those years?

  • Ken
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    JK are you still in high school? This company fed most of Newfoundland for close to 100 years. Go take a history lesson. Better still read Sally Taylor's book .. The Great Outsiders. Educate yourself before you make such stupid comments about this province's forest industry.

  • Jon
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    I have known Glenn all of my life. Sad to see the end of an era. Best wishes Glenn and good luck for the future.

  • Poger
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Glen provided a valuable service for the paper mill and did it with class .. not to mention safely. He and the other contractors are helpless victims to an industry that has been plauged by high labour costs, a moving Canadian dollar, a declining market and a company that is debt ridden and strapped for cash. I wish Glen and all of the contractors the very best as they move forward. This is the start of many sad stories to come out of the demise of the paper industry here.

    A team player in every aspect... Best of Luck Glen.

  • KWD
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    The Glenn Peyton story isnt unique; its happening across this country, its happening in all sectors not just forestry and, indeed, its happening around the world.

    Peyton and others are symptoms of globalization run amok. Those that benefited the most that would be the money changers, banksters and corporate leaders could give a rats rectum about Peyton and everyone else linked to primary resource industries.

    The great financial bailout fraud will keep handing out billions of bucks to those that created this mess.

    Globalization is an economy boosting drug concocted by economists on steroids and folks like Peyton are starting to feel the side effects of withdrawal. It wont be pleasant to watch.