The paper mill that started in Bathurst, Alberta, in 1871, was designed to make the world’s most durable paper, but its early days were punctuated by disasters.
In 1905, the town was forced to close its doors because of a fire.
The mill burned through almost $4 million worth of materials and was closed for a year.
Then, in 1911, a series of fires caused by a sudden burst of humidity caused a pile of rubble to collapse on top of the mill.
After years of damage, the mill finally closed in 1921 and its employees were laid off.
Now, nearly 70 years later, the paper mill is making a comeback and has reopened for business as a papermaker, but with a completely different name.
The Bathurst Papermaking Co. is now called the Calgary Papermaking Group, after its owner, Terry Campbell, who owns a small papermaking business.
The group also includes the Calgary, Alberta-based company that owns the Calgary Heritage Museum and is the owner of the Calgary-based Heritage Art Gallery, among other holdings.
The Calgary Papermakers is a non-profit that focuses on education, community and heritage preservation.
In a news release, the group said its goal is to preserve the history of Calgary’s papermaking industry and to create opportunities for local papermakers and students.
“We want to help people understand and appreciate the history and heritage of Calgary papermaking and how it came to be, which is why we are dedicated to bringing the history to the public,” said John McElroy, chair of the papermaking group.
“In this way, we can help the city to build its future and keep the industry in the city,” McElry said.
“This is something that has to happen for the city and for the Calgary papermakers.”
Campbell said his group was initially looking to start up a papermaking company, but the Calgary industry has been stagnant for decades, and he knew he needed to bring in a new investor.
So, the Calgary Group decided to use the Calgary heritage as a vehicle to launch a business, said Campbell.
“The Calgary paper makers was founded to be the Calgary version of the Alberta papermakers,” he said.
The papermakers began to open their doors in 2007, but were shuttered in 2012 after Campbell sold the Calgary group to a third party.
“Our history is not well known in Calgary and people are quite unaware of the history that we have,” said Campbell, adding that many Calgary paper manufacturers have closed in the past.
He said his papermakers aim to open new facilities and create new jobs.
He hopes the Calgary company can be a catalyst for change in Calgary’s industry.
“I think we need to start building a new industry,” he added.
“So we have a plan to build an institution that can support this in Calgary.”