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Resolute Roots: Abolition of U.S. newsprint tariffs leads to rise of Gatineau paper mill

usine de papier de Gatineau

The roots of Resolute Forest Products took hold in the midst of the Industrial Revolution.  Starting in 1820 and over the following two centuries, the company grew from 20 sawmills along the banks of the St. Lawrence River to the 40+ pulp, paper, wood products and tissue facilities we operate today in the United States, Canada and South Korea.

 A newly published book “Resolute Roots” follows the evolution of the company and the pioneers who built it, through two world wars and numerous technological revolutions. 

Written by author Martin Fairbank, a former Resolute employee, the book tells the story of Resolute’s family tree, which includes names such as Abitibi, Consolidated Bathurst, Canadian International Paper, Bowater, Ontario Paper, Donohue and Price – and celebrates the building of the Mersey, Alma,  Kénogami, Murray Bay, Thorold and Gatineau mills, along with numerous other facilities.

For more information on the deep roots and rich history of Resolute and its predecessors, you can purchase Resolute Roots by clicking here. We’ll be publishing brief excerpts from the book over the next few weeks under the Resolute Roots tag.

Ninety years ago, in 1926, a huge construction project began in Gatineau to build what was one of the largest pulp and paper mills of that time.

In 1913, the U.S. Congress passed a bill that abolished tariffs on Canadian newsprint imports and made newsprint the first major commodity to enter the U.S. virtually duty free. Canadian producers, with a much larger supply of spruce trees for turning into newsprint pulp, began turning out newsprint at a lower cost than many American companies. As a result, International Paper decided to shift its newsprint production to Canada, creating its subsidiary Canadian International Paper in 1925. It made plans to build a giant paper mill in Gatineau, Quebec.

The first project they undertook was to generate electrical power on the Gatineau River. The Gatineau Power Company was created in 1926 to build three power stations – Farmers, Chelsea, and Paugan, which became operational over the next two years and employed thousands of workers for the construction phase. The Gatineau newsprint mill was built in parallel, including groundwood and sulphite pulp production and four paper machines. It started up in 1927, producing a total of 680 short tons of newsprint a day.

Additional businesses were set up by the company at the Gatineau site. A subsidiary called International Fibre Board was created in 1928 to produce fibre-boards for the building industry. These products carried names such as Tentest (for insulation), Termite-Test, Hydro-Test (waterproof), and Acousti-Test (for soundproofing).

Several mergers and acquisitions later, the Gatineau site today produces only newsprint from thermomechanical pulp. It continues to benefit from the power dams on the Gatineau River, which today are operated by Hydro-Québec.

If you would like to learn more about the history of Resolute Forest Products and its predecessors you can purchase the recently published Resolute Roots by clicking here.

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