The men behind the mill
October 1, 2003 By Pulp & Paper Canada
As we continue our series commemorating pulp and paper canada’s 100th anniversary, this month we criss-cross canada from british columbia to quebec as we explore the careers of the ryan family of brot…
As we continue our series commemorating pulp and paper canada’s 100th anniversary, this month we criss-cross canada from british columbia to quebec as we explore the careers of the ryan family of brothers.
From a single family of four brothers who grew up in quebec city, three ended their careers as mill managers in various regions of canada. what is equally amazing is that the torch is being carried by the next generation of ryans.
As a young boy, Tony Ryan spent many Saturdays accompanying his father to the workplace. Ultimately it proved to be more than simply an adventure for the youngster. In later life he would follow in his father’s footsteps, not only working in the same field of pulp and paper, but also at the same mill in Kamloops, BC.
Tony recalled how his father “instilled a passion for the pulp and paper industry, which I still have today.” Working as the Recaust & Outside Areas Operations Leader at Weyerhaeuser’s Kamloops pulp mill, Tony reflected on his career in the industry.
“Working in this field is not a job or a career for me, it is my life.”
Two generations of the Ryan family have devoted their careers to the industry. While the father and son duo is unique, the family connections go much further. Tony’s two uncles, William (Bill) and Peter R. were also mill managers in various locations across Canada.
The Ryan family, originally from Quebec City produced three mill managers from the same generation, and herein lies the uniqueness of this family.
With a Chemical Engineering degree, Tony has worked in the industry since 1986 and for the past four years, Weyerhaeuser’s Kamloops pulp mill has been his home away from home.
Weyerhaeuser’s presence in Western Canada is extensive. Founded over 100 years ago, the company maintains a singular focus on timberlands. It prides itself in both the management of its forestry holdings and in the development of new ways of utilising this renewable resource. Its Kamloops pulp mill began operations in 1965, just outside of the city.
The industry has seen vast transformations in the years since the Ryan brothers first entered the field in mid-1960s. “Today we produce a better quality of final product, and ironically we achieve this with less people,” Tony said. “Employment opportunities within the industry have also changed. The days when one’s career could evolve in one mill are gone.”
Indeed present-day trends are that large corporations hire young professionals and place them in strategic positions within their network of mills across Canada. In fact, Tony worked at Weyerhaeuser’s Prince Albert, SK, facility prior to transferring to Kamloops — where his father, Robert Gerald, or Bob to his family and friends, was serving as mill manager.
Bob started his career in the Anglo Canadian pulp and paper mill in Quebec City, which was home base for the entire family. He also worked at the Dryden paper mill in Ontario and was involved in the start-up of both Prince George Pulp and Paper, and Intercontinental pulp mill. He became mill manager at Kamloops in 1987 and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2000.
Upon retiring, he was the vice president and general manager of the BC Division. As a highlight of his career, he is most proud of the significant work that was accomplished in reducing odour from the mill operation. About retirement, he said, “I feel that I need to continue to keep in touch with the industry.” He actively participates in PAPTAC’s Technical Papers Selection Committee, and regularly reviews papers for Pulp and Paper Canada. But the most rewarding connection to the industry is when father and son get together and discuss pulp.
The most senior of the Ryan brothers, William (Bill) equally embarked on his career in Quebec City at the Anglo Canadian operation. His career evolved with positions in Chandler, Port Cartier, Kenora, and Pine Falls. He served as mill manager of both the Thunder Bay and Fort William divisions of Abitibi-Price, until his retirement in 1994.
Tony has worked in the same mill as both his uncle Bill, and father Bob, and he said, “No matter where I have gone in this industry, one of the first questions I am asked upon introducing myself is ‘are you related to…?’ “.
Peter, the youngest brother of the family launched his career with Lignosol Chemicals, the chemical recovery operation adjacent to the Anglo mill. He worked there until the facility was shut down, rising from a project engineer to the facility manager. He then transferred to Reed Limited, located at the same mill. He retired in 2002, as vice president at Stadacona Papers.
“Peter has a strong reputation in the industry and is well respected as a strong supporter of the CPPA,” said Robert Wood, executive director of PAPTAC.
Uniquely among his brothers, Peter saw his career unfold in one mill in his hometown of Quebec City. The ownership changed over the years, but as Peter said, “the crowning touch was to be named mill manager in the city that I call home.”
At 40, Tony vividly recalls his visits to a pulp mill when he was five. His passion for pulp and paper continues to be strong and sincere. “Even when I go on vacation, I always try to take a tour of a mill,” admitted Tony. “The reason is not just to do my job better, but because I truly enjoy it.”
Will there be another generation of Ryans involved with pulp and paper? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, Tony’s 14-year-old daughter is already showing interest in mills, as she visits Dad on the site.
KAMLOOPS PULP AT A GLANCE
-Short fibre softwood papergrade pulps, specialty pulps
-120,000 ADMT annually
-Papergrade pulps, specialty pulps
-Bleached sulphate market pulp
-360,000 ADMT annually
Environmental ISO 14001-1996
Purity, uniformity and strength
Kamloops Pulp specialises in converting wood by-products from local lumber mills into paper grade pulp that is noted for its purity, uniformity and strength. Two grades of pulp, Kamloops Chinook and Tyee Kraft are the mill’s specialities.
|Kamloops Chinook||A fully bleached softwood kraft grade manufactured using residual chips from sawmills in the interior of B.C.|
|The primary wood species for this grade are white|
|Engelmann spruce and lodgepole pine. The fibre length and|
|low coarseness result in sheet strength, surface uniformity|
|Tyee Kraft||Manufactured from 100% softwood sawmill residuals: mini|
|chips, wood shavings and sawdust. The wood species is|
|typical of the interior of B.C. The product is noted for sheet|
|strength, formation, and smoothness|
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