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Timberland – Giving Way and Passing On

May 12, 2012
Timberland Lumber mill opposite - New Westminster Public Library

Timberland Lumber Co. sawmill opposite New Westminster –New Westminster Public Library photo

Timberland Post War

Returning home following the Second World War, the sons of JG Robson were able to take over when two long-time associates of Timberland were reaching retirement age.

Paul E Murphy, superintendent and production manager at Timberland since 1912, and Alex T Robson, sales manager since 1921,  both retired from Timberland in 1946.

CA Robson took over from his uncle as sales manager and secretary-treasurer, while JG Robson (Jr.) assumed the role of PE Murphy as production manager at the mill.

Paul E Murphy, a native of Montevideo, Minnesota, had been with Timberland for 34 years. He retired to his home “Fircrest” on Marine Drive at Ocean Park. He died in 1948 at age 67.


JG Robson kept his position as President and Managing Director of Timberland. Robson accepted an appointment to the Board of Directors of the BC Power Corporation, in 1947.

In 1951, Timberland Lumber Company on Fraser River was recorded as having 187 employees.  Its associated logging firm, the Timberland Development Company’s camp at Toba Inlet, employed a further 60 men and women. Two other camps on Vancouver Island, one west of Campbell River, and a second at Union Bay, supplied logs to Timberland.

Ninety-five per cent of Timberland’s output was by order, cut to specifications.  The mill’s unique capacity was depended upon to satisfy any large dimension request, including a 100 foot stick delivered to Philadelphia measuring 41 inches square.  Orders came in from around the world, and the mill gained a lot of publicity with some special projects.

Timberland advertisement 1955 Timberland Lumber Co advert
“Timbers” ad for Timberland Lumber Co Ltd ‘Boom Sticks’ ad for Timberland Lumber Co

Coronation Maypole for London, 1953

Timberland Lumber mill had always played its part whenever there was a need for a grand gesture, including the preparation of a Maypole to stand in London to honour the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Final Years – Timberland to the end

In the first week of May 1956, Jean Robson, wife of James Goodfellow Robson for 44 years, passed away.  JG Robson announced his retirement from business.

In October, Robson’s brother and long-time associate at Timberland, Alex T Robson, died at the age of 71. And a year to the month after losing his wife, JG Robson buried his son Clifford, dead at the age of 41.

James Goodfellow Robson devoted his retirement years to giving away a portion of the fortune he built up in 50 years in the lumber trade. In 1956 he donated $100,000 to the Royal Columbian Hospital and he followed that with $100,000 to his church. In 1957 he gave $250,000 to the University of British Columbia. In 1959 he gave $200,000 to the New Westminster YMCA. All told, it was estimated he gave away almost a million dollars.

Timberland was purchased in 1956 by Canadian Collieries Ltd. In 1964 the firm was sold to Weldwood Canada which expanded operations at the site on the Fraser River with a plywood plant.  The old Timberland mill was shut down in 1985, and the business ceased operations in 1987.

Logs on old Timberland booming grounds 2011 Timberland Road and Railway spur

Logs on old Timberland booming grounds

Timberland Road and railway spur

More info-

John Pearson, Land of the Peace Arch

“Old Style Sawmills Fade Away,”  B. Griffin, Discovery, 1986-01 (BC Provincial Museum)

American Lumberman


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