BY BILL PHILLIPS
A chance encounter several years ago resulted in Prince George being the kick-off point for a Swedish nature and forestry tour.
Jan Hedberg, of the Swedish tour company Skogsresor, was in Prince George about five years ago and found himself outside the offices of Brink Forest Products. Being in the business of conducting forestry-related tours, he went in and ended up talking to Brink Forest Products owner John Brink.
“I was very impressed with John,” said Hedberg in Prince George Thursday. “It gave me the idea to have John as a starter (for a tour) to tell about Prince George and the industry here. We get a good structure for this visit.”
On Thursday, Brink toured the 47-member group around Brink Forest Products and along River Road which, of course, used to be Planer Road when the forest industry here was in its infancy and planer mills lined both sides of the road. He explained about his finger-jointing operation, the largest in North America, and talked about the forest industry in general.
Whether faced with issues such as the mountain pine beetle, trade wars with the U.S. or, this year, devastating fires, the industry is constantly changing, he said, but that there is room for those, like him, who find their niche.
The tour-goers have an affinity for Brink who emigrated to Canada from Holland in the 1960s with a dream of owning a sawmill and then achieved that dream.
And those on the tour have more than just a passing interest in the industry.
“Eighty per cent of the people on the trip are forest owners,” said Hedberg. “They have forest land and sell logs to SCA (a forestry company in Sweden). Others on the trip are foresters who work for them. Some people (on the tour) are just interested in forestry and nature and Canada. They like to see different things.”
And see different things they will. In addition to the tour Brink gave them Thursday morning, they will see the Ancient Forest, Jasper and Banff national parks, a Canfor logging operation, a Vanderhoof sawmill, the Hazeltons, the ferry from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy, mill operations in Campbell River, grizzly bears on the B.C. coast, and Victoria’s Butchart Gardens.
“We will go out and meet private forest owners, small forest owners,” said Hedberg. “So we will get a different perspective.”
The tour to Canada is very successful, said Hedberg, adding this tour filled up in January and there were 31 more people wanting to come.
“This is about the fourth or fifth year we’ve been doing this,” said Brink, who will meet up with the tour-goers again later this month when they get to Victoria.