A mainstay for families since Liverpool's founding in 1759, the forestry industry is closely entwined in Queens County's history. Settlers were first attracted to Queens to cut the vast amounts of timber and then stayed to cultivate the land.
The first sawmill in Queens was built in Milton in 1760 as the demand for house and shipbuilding materials was high. Queens' economic boom in the 1800s was due in part to forestry as the United States was growing quickly and demand for wood was great. By 1870, 42 sawmills operated here.
Getting raw logs to one of the sawmills was not an easy process, as cutting sites were often quite a distance from the mills. "Driving" logs down river was a daunting task and river drivers were ill-compensated. Several weeks of intense labour was required to get logs from the most remote locations in North Queens down to the Milton sawmills.
Once the logs arrived at the mills they were transformed into a range of products including raw lumber for construction, shingles, doors, flooring, window sashes, furniture and materials for making barrels that helped sustain the demand for exports.
Unfortunately for Queens, the downturn in the United States in the 1870s resulted in reduced demand for forestry products causing the closure of many local sawmills. Despite the lean times, the Davison Mill in Mill Village prospered as the largest lumber producer in Nova Scotia in 1894. (It was claimed by Edward Doran Davison, the owner, that the Davison Mill was the first steam powered mill in the Province, an assertion that is still up for debate today).
Pulp and Paper
By the early 1900s and after much experimentation with pulp for paper production purposes, there were several mills in Queens producing pulp for export to be turned into paper elsewhere. In 1929, the Mersey Paper Company opened its doors in Brooklyn and a new chapter in the forestry industry in Queens began. Bowater purchased the Mill in 1956 and the industry enjoyed decades of prosperity before the demand for pulp and paper declined and the world economy shifted. The mill closed in June 2012 and though the next chapter is still being written, the mill site is being transformed into the Port Mersey Commercial Park and Innovacorp Demonstration Centre - new uses for forest fibre and clean, green technologies from natural resource are leading us forward once again.