Canfor has a birthday coming up.
The city's largest private sector employer, and one of the biggest industrial players in the region and province, is turning 75 years old next year.
The celebrations are already exciting company leaders.
During Thursday's unveiling of a donated playhouse at the Family Y, Canfor's senior vice-president of forestry/environment and energy, Mark Feldinger, said he was looking forward to more gatherings like that one.
"You can expect to see us with events tied to that anniversary date," he said. "Given the linkages between Canfor and Prince George, you'll see a lot of that presence right here in the community."
According to Canfor historians, the company began in 1938 when John Prentice and Poldi Bentley formed a furniture and paneling veneer company called Pacific Veneer. Their mill employed 28 people in New Westminster. Within a year they won contracts to supply wood components for the aviation and marine industries and the mill swelled to 1,000 employees.
The company grew and evolved from then on. It ventured into the pulp side of the forestry sector and in 1962 that brought them into the Prince George community with the acquisition of a pulp wood agreement leading to a joint venture with Reed Paper Group Ltd of the U.K. to create Prince George Pulp and Paper.
They added sawmilling operations in Chetwynd and Fort St. John in the few years after that, tapping their northern stake even deeper.
In 1968 they expanded their pulp division with another Prince George-based joint venture with Reed and Feldmuehle AG of Germany that created Intercontinental Pulp Company Ltd.
In 1989 Canfor acquired bought Balfour Forest Products Inc., acquiring the Clear Lake, Netherlands, Taylor and Polar operations, getting into the Prince George sawmilling industry for the first time.
In 1999 Canfor completed the pulp trifecta in Prince George, acquiring Northwood Inc., which included the only non-Canfor pulp mill in the region.
The 1999 deal also brought them Prince George Sawmill, North Central Plywoods, Rustad, Houston and Upper Fraser operations and the Kyahwood Forest Products joint venture and J.D. Little Forest Centre.
As a result, Canfor became Canada's largest producer of softwood lumber and kraft market pulp.
During the 2000s, Canfor sold their Prince George interests in the pulp-accompanying chemical factories, but bought into the emerging wood pellet industry. They suffered the loss of the North Central Plywood factory in a massive fire and did not rebuild, plus they closed some local sawmills, such as Rustad and Clear Lake.
Through the twists of the forest sector, government, commodity markets, and internal activities, Canfor remains a dominant player in the Prince George business community.
"We're planning a full slate of events across the company for next year, but with lots of focus on our P.G. hometown," said company spokeswoman Christine Kennedy. "We expect to hold one of our board meetings in P.G. next year, we'll be sponsoring the City's Canada Day fireworks in honor of the 75th, and we'll be making a variety of other plans to include the community and both Canfor and Canfor Pulp's employees in the celebration. We're also working really closely with UNBC, and look forward to engaging them in our 75th celebrations and collaborating with their forestry and natural resources management faculty around how we can attract the next generation of students into forestry studies at UNBC. Lots of other details are still to be worked out, but its going to be an exciting year ahead."