Our rural economy 

Scierie West Brome

By Tony Rotherham

Our region is supported by a mixed economy. We have a variety of services and commercial outlets in the villages as well as light industry represented by Windmill Plastics and KDC One. There is also the agricultural sector which has been in decline since the 1920s due to poor soil, lots of stones, small fields and steep slopes. Several groups are working to revive local agriculture and food production. 

There is much privately owned woodland in the region and two sawmills. 

Scierie West Brome at Gilman’s Corners was established in 1959 by Frank Santerre. It is now owned by Francis Boulay who has worked at the mill for 26 years. Annual production is approximately 20-25 million board feet of lumber. The mill employs 65 people and a lot of truck drivers. This mill cuts only conifer logs – white pine, red pine and hemlock. It does not produce construction lumber. The mill produces special dimension white pine for the manufacture of doors, windows and other lumber used for finishing the interior of houses. Most of the red pine and hemlock is bought by treatment plants where it is treated with preservatives and used for fencing and other outdoor applications. The majority of the logs used by the mill are delivered by suppliers from the north-eastern USA and Ontario. Only about 5-10% comes from southern Quebec. It seems that private woodlots in the US are managed more actively than those in Quebec. Sounds like an opportunity. 

The other sawmill in our region is Bois Acer, owned by Evens Pouliot on Route 243 near Mansonville. This mill employs 25 people and several truck drivers. The mill cuts only hardwoods; mainly red maple and sugar maple, white ash and red oak. Annual production is about 10 million board feet. Only 10-15% of the logs are harvested from local forest land, 80% are imported from the USA. Production is sold to customers in Canada, USA and China. The high-grade lumber is sold to companies that produce flooring, mouldings and furniture. The low-grade small dimension lumber is used to make pallets. The larger dimension lumber is used to make railway ties, which when treated will last for many decades. 

Local mills employ local people. They are part of our rural economy.