The Shevlin-Clarke Co. Ltd, which operated Canada's largest pine sawmill in Fort Frances from 1911 to 1940, has suspended operations and, by mid-June, will pass completely from the local scene.
On June 5, 1911, the first logs were run up the jackladder of Shevlin mill No. 1, and before sawing operations ended here on October 23, 1940, over 1,600,000,000 ft. of lumber had come out of Shevlin mills for distribution, chiefly in the United States. Lumbering operations ceased entirely on Saturday, April 18th, 1942, when the last boards from "the yards" were run through the planing machines and the planer turned over to the M. Zagerman and Co. Ltd. of Ottawa for dismantling.
Although the Shevlin-Clarke did not begin logging operation in the Rainy River Watershed until the winter of 1910, another subsidiary of the Shevlin Carpenter & Clarke Co. of Minneapolis, the parent company, had cut over parts of this area, especially in the north arm of Rainy Lake and north of the Cascades. This was the Rainy River Lumber Co. Ltd., with mills at Rainy River, which began operating about 1904 and continued until 1913. The company operated a third plant at Spooner, Minnesota, the Shevlin-Mathieu Co. which began it's operation about 1906 and continued until 1913 when it was sold to the Backus-Brooks Co.
The erection of the first unit of the Shevlin-Clarke Co. Ltd. in Fort Frances in 1911 did away with the necessity of driving the Rainy River. The erection of Mill No. 2 in Fort Frances coincided with the of Shevlin's operations in Rainy River and Spooner
During the 32 years Shevlin-Clarke Co. Ltd. operated in Fort Frances, the annual production averaged better than 50 million feet of lumber and its payroll averaged $645,000 per year, David P. Larsen, vice-president of the firm,revealed Wednesday morning while discussing operations here. The sawmills were able to turn out 500,000 feet of lumber daily, while the immense yards usually carried a stock of from 50 to 55 million feet.
"The 32-year term of operations in Fort Frances is usually for the high degree of harmony between capital and labor and it is with sincere regret of both parties that this has to terminate with the exhaustion of the timber," Mr. Larson told The Times.
The Company regretted that neither the quality nor the location of present stands of timber permitted continued operations, and consequently there was nothing to do but to suspend operations.
In addition to the fine relationship which has existed between the men and the Company, Mr. Larson stressed the fine cordiality which existed between the Company and the townspeople and its officials.
"At no place where the Company has had mills during the past 60 years has it enjoyed a more congenial relationship with the town than in Fort Frances." Mr. Larson said.
During its stay in Fort Frances, not only has Shevlin-Clarke Co. Ltd. benefitted from logging off the fine Norway and white pine forests which covered the area east of town, but Fort Frances and the district has also benefitted from the operations here.
"During the period it was operating here Shevlin's payroll totalled $20 million," Mr. Larsen revealed. To this must be added the huge amounts spent locally for its camps which averaged between eight and ten each winter, with each camp consuming 125,000 lbs. of foodstuffs during the logging operations.
To fittingly observe the end of Shevlin's operations, the Company had as their guests at dinner the present employees and their wives at a complimentary banquet in the Rainy Lake hotel on Tuesday evening, following by a dance in the town hall.
David P. Larsen, vice-president of the Company, represented Paul V. Eames, president of the Company, who was attending to business matters on the West Coast and unavoidably could not be present. Among the guests were M. A. Malone, general manager of the Fort Frances operations from 1925 to 1941; Mayor Joseph Parker, and J. W. Walker, town clerk and treasurer.
Omar Viger proposed the toast "To The King of Great Britain and of Canada";Mr. Parker, "To the president of the United States"; Mr. Walker, "To Our Canadian Armed Forces"; Mr. Malone, "To the United States Armed Forces."
Mr. Larsen delivered the only address of the evening, expressing regret that the happy relations his Company has enjoyed in Fort Frances has terminated.
Musical numbers were presented by Florence Forsberg, Colin Thompson, Norman Klevens and his chorus, and the orchestra. then as the banquet came to an end, the officials and employees joined together in singing "Wish Me Luck as You Say Goodbye."
Although all milling operations have ceased, Mr. Larsen said Wednesday that he believed the office would remain open here until mid-June.
The entire plant will be razed by end of May, 1943.