Millar Western is founded by Western Canadian business pioneer James William (J.W.) Millar, who opens a blacksmith shop in North Battleford, Saskatchewan.
J.W. incorporates one of the first construction companies in Western Canada, and becomes active in both logging and construction in Saskatchewan.
J.W. expands into logging and sawmilling in Alberta, moving his family and head office to Edmonton and, in 1926, building a sawmill on the site that today houses the company’s Whitecourt pulp operation.
Operating as Western Construction and Millar Lumber, J.W. grows his business — building a new Whitecourt sawmill, starting a sodium sulphate processing operation in Palo, Saskatchewan, and broadening the reach of his construction activities.
J.W.’s sons Hugh, Allan and Keith Millar expand their companies’ construction interests, while continuing to operate the Whitecourt lumber and Palo chemical businesses.
1960s – 1970s
J.W.’s grandsons Jim and Mac Millar lead the next phase of growth, including a focus on road and bridge building in Alberta and the northern territories.
The lumber, construction and chemical companies are combined as Millar Western Industries Ltd.
Millar Western Pulp Ltd. is formed in 1986, and in 1988 the company opens Alberta’s first bleached chemi-thermo-mechanical pulp (BCTMP) mill, adjacent to the Whitecourt sawmill. The same year, we add a new magnesium sulphate processing facility to our Whitecourt operations.
In 1992, Millar Western opens the world’s first zero-effluent market pulp mill, a BCTMP facility located in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. In 1994, we acquire, upgrade and open a sawmill at Boyle, Alberta.
Millar Western Forest Products Ltd. is formed, consolidating our core lumber and pulp businesses into a single company.
Millar Western strengthens its focus on core forestry businesses, winding down its construction interests, selling the Palo sodium sulphate plant and exiting the Meadow Lake pulp partnership. In 2007, we acquire the Fox Creek sawmill operation; the mill is lost to fire in 2008, but we rebuild and reopen it in 2011.
Private equity fund manager Atlas Holdings LLC acquires a majority equity stake in Millar Western Forest Products Ltd., drawn by shared corporate values and the strength of the company’s workforce, assets and management approach. The same year, Millar Western acquires value-added wood products manufacturer Spruceland Millworks.
We sell our lumber and woodlands holdings, achieving outstanding value for those assets and turning our focus to the continued advancement of our Whitecourt BCTMP mill and opportunities for growth in the high-yield pulp sector.