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Lumber Directory Database

The most comprehensive listing of Canadian solid wood and pulp manufacturers anywhere, Madison's Online Lumber Directory has been published for over 60 years. Company information includes contacts, tree species, rough and finished lumber sizes, lumber production volumes, countries of lumber export, and much, much more. A sample viewing of Madison's Online Directory is available HERE, the full database contains more than 1,799 individual solid wood and pulp producer entries. Further details and a link to our Madison's Directory order form is HERE.†

Read more below for information about our Directory, how it was created and what it can do for you .


In 1952, Peter Madison started a local Vancouver publication tracking the west coast lumber industry called Madison's Lumber Reporter. Madison's quickly grew to track lumber and panel prices across Canada, then soon all of North America. In 1953 Madison's released a small printed book detailing British Columbia's lumber producers; primary sawmills, secondary remanufacturers, plywood mills, pulp mills, and cedar mills. It was not long before the book grew to cover the entire Canadian solid wood manufacturing industry.

In combination with the weekly lumber and panel price guide, the annual Madison's Directory has served to keep the forest products' industry, and anyone interested in it, informed about who the players are, including the producers, the wholesalers, the transporters, and the reloads, for the past 60 years.

Originally the listings were grouped by region. The chapters of the book were divided into provinces, then further categorized by type of producer. To aid readers, there were four extensive indexes; by company name, by location, by contact name, and by grading agency mill number. This last one was especially useful if someone received a load of wood but had no way to contact the supplier; by looking at the grade stamp and referencing Madison's Directory, mill managers and lumber retailers were quickly able to get to the source of that wood.

Information listed in the Directory goes far beyond simply company names, addresses, phones and emails, and contact names. Company listings are free, and the scope of each listing is up to the discretion of individual companies. Most, however, fill out Madison's listing forms fully. Information includes the above, as well as; timber species handled, rough sizes, surfaces sizes, product mix, production volumes, additional services, kiln capacity, countries of export, preservatives used, treating facilities, panel thicknesses, panel sizes, distribution yards, number of employees, grading agency membership, certification, and notes, which is mostly used by specialty operators.

A typical mill listing, in this case a primary manufacturer in British Columbia, contains this level of detail:


Mill ID# 


Name of Mill 

Foothills Forest Products Inc.




Canada, BC

Contact Address 

PO Box 180, Grande Cache, AB T0E 0Y0


780-827-2225, Sales Phone - 250-992-7471


780-827-2246, Sales Fax - 250-992-5753



Mill Location 


Contact Persons 

CEO - Joe Cerasa , Mill Manager - Aaron Davis


Lodgepole Pine 85%, White Spruce 10%, Balsam Fir 5%

Rough Sizes 


Surfaced Sizes 

2x3 to 2x6, 6ft to 16ft


dimension (2x4, 2x6 to 16ft), fuel pellets


200 Mfbm/8hr shift, 50 MMfbm/yr



planing, paper wrapped

Kiln Capacity 

750 Mfbm/charge


truck, rail (CN)





Treating Facilities 






Distribution Yard 




Grading Agency 

AFPA Mill No. 045


Having entered the digital age, the weekly Madison's Lumber Reporter is sent by email every Friday, and the annual Madison's Lumber Directory is now available in a searchable online format. One reason Madison's is a favourite among the industry is that every single listed company is contacted once a year to update their information. Critical contact or production details are then entered into the database so subscribers are constantly provided with the most current information possible.

Users of Madison's Live Online Directory include log harvesters and transporters, lumber producers and salespeople, lumber brokers and wholesalers, railways, ports, reloads, builders, retailers, governments, libraries, universities and colleges, grading agencies, industry groups and organizations, and a large number of international customers looking to stay informed on the North American lumber industry.



Having come up through history since 1953, the Directory was of course not in a database. At first the book was typed out every year, then eventually was produced through an old-style word processor. Starting in the 1990's the book was created in  desktop publishing software. The information was entered in the order that the book was printed; by province first then by mill type.

Transferring the text file to a database was a tricky project, involving many steps to make sure the data sets flowed correctly. Once that work was done, creating a user interface for readers to easily be able to view, and search, the database on the internet provided further challenges.

Here are some comments from our programmer:


This was a challenging project indeed and I found the conversion process required almost as much time as the entire programming end of the setup. First we used special software to convert the original PDF files into Word format. That result had to be examined and for which we wrote a lengthy macro to help automate much of the conversion. Then the files had to be carefully sifted to look out for possible exceptions or glitches to the conversion. We worked closely with the client to spread the workload. By providing clear instructions and performing complex, back-end programming, the client was able to perform a lot of the manual work itself. Not only is the client best suited to examine the data to make sure all the figures fell in their proper place, but this measure allowed it to save on costs.

Once the conversion into Word was complete and controlled for exceptions, the long conversion into Excel format began, which required that we write up a Perl script, again to automate much of this process. The array of data had to be transposed from a loose text file format:


Mill name:<tab>Bobís Mill

Mill address:<tab>1234 Street

Mill region:<tab>British Colombia, Canada




Mill name

Mill address

Mill region

Bobís Mill

1234 Street

British Colombia, Canada


and all records correctly lined up under the correct field header. Our script helped a lot but there were many exceptions to the data which complicated the conversion, so the records needed careful examination. Once again, we worked together with the client to reduce costs and ensure accuracy.


Once the data was in Excel format, it was a simple issue of converting it to online database format. For this project we chose sqlite, which is similar to mysql but a lighter database format and easier to work with. This in conjunction with php and the occasional javascript produces the final version. If you have some data in an old format that you would like to modernize into an online and functional database, Iíd welcome the opportunity to look at it. Please feel free to email me.



Forest products are one of Canada's largest exports to the United States. Softwood lumber specifically is a very important trade item, comprising 21.5 billion board feet of shipped into the US in 2005. The value of Canadian forest products exports in 2005 were $36.4 million, while in 2009, due to the economic downturn, Canadian forest products exports dropped to $19.5 million. Of that, solid wood exports were valued at $18.8 million in 2005 and $6.8 million in 2009.

Canada has historically enjoyed approximately 30-33 per cent of market share in the US lumber industry. When US home building is up and Canadian wood exports exceed that amount, US lumber producers -- particularly southern yellow pine sawmills in the southern US -- complain to a powerful lobby group which works for their interests in Washington, DC. US home builders, trades, and realtors do not support the US lumber lobby, but are not strongly organized therefore their voice is not heard nearly as powerfully in the US Congress. In addition, significant amounts of US lumber producers, specifically on the west coast, actively do not support the US lumber lobby.

The Canadian lumber industry is also not very well organized, with many regional agencies and organizations taking only local interests seriously but ignoring the national picture. A good example of this would be the atlantic provinces, where timberland is largely privately owned. This region stays out of tricky trade disputes between Canada and the US entirely, while Quebec and British Columbia seem to be involved in a never-ending list of complaints and international arbitration.

The root of the problem is, and always has been, that Canadian timberlands are largely owned by the public and managed by provincial governments, while US timberlands are owned by private timberland investors. The timber pricing system in Canada varies by province and is not well understood in the US, which makes it a perfect foil for claiming that Canada subsidizes its forest products industry by making timber available to lumber producers at a reduced cost.

Disputes over softwood lumber exports have been going on between the US and Canada since 1889 and continue to January 18, 2011 when the US launched a new arbitration in international court against British Columbia which has been valued at upwards of US$400 million.

Despite political upheaval, forest fires, transportation problems, labour disputes, storms, and beetle infestations, the export of forestry products from Canada to the US continues. Canada's market share in 2010 had decreased to 24 per cent, but is expected to recover slowly through 2011 then more rapidly as the US home building market emerges from the problems created by zero-interest mortgages of 2003 to 2006.

Meanwhile Canadian lumber exports to other countries, specifically China as a new customer and Japan as a returning one, are growing at much greater rates than the US market is collapsing. Significant lumber mill capacity out of British Columbia has been diverted from the Asia from the US. Several sawmills have retrofitted to produce lumber in metric sizes and are shipping their entire product mix overseas. These mills will not reconfigure back to board feet to ship into the US when that customer base returns.

In addition the volume of timber supply available in British Columbia will begin decreasing in 2011 and last at least 30 years in the wake of the mountain pine beetle and the hundreds and hundreds of square kilometres  of dead forest left behind.

There is a serious question about where the billions of board feet per year the US is going to need when economic recovery arrives is going to come from. That country is seriously underbuilt, with demographics remaining constant but new home building severely restricted on an annual basis since mid-2006. There is a limited timber supply available domestically, and the US will likely find the usual easy availability of wood from Canada greatly reduced due to overseas exports and diminished log supply.

History of the Lumber Industry

lumber-directory-database-1.jpg As the 20th century progressed and Canada and the US continued developing, more wood was needed thus more sawmills sprang up. As well, a wider variety of products were needed so more sophisticated processing techniques came to be. In addition to primary mills, which saw raw logs, secondary remanufacturing and veneer sawmills came into being. Millwrights and woodworkers were in high demand for finishing, flooring, mouldings and boards to go into the thousands and thousands of new homes being built out of wood across the continent every year.


Harvesting timber for building and other uses began immediately when Europeans came to North America. Both in the United States and Canada, wood from trees was used to settle and develop the continent. As the population moved west, even bigger and sturdier timber was found, specifically Douglas fir and cedar on the west coast.

At first lumber was used for local projects. As towns were built up, shipments of processed wood products began going to remote areas for new building. Sawmills ran logs sourced locally then sent lumber along newly-built rail lines wherever it might be needed. Soon entire towns grew up around a single sawmill operation.

Softwoods, or conifers, like spruce, pine, fir and hemlock are traditional used in framing lumber. Also called dimension lumber, these products -- including 2x4's, studs, fingerjoint and I-joists -- are used to hold up the structure of a home or small building. Hardwoods, like maple, oak, alder, birch and cherry, are used for decorative features in interiors and exteriors.


lumber-directory-database-3.jpg By the mid-century there were enough primary sawmills and secondary remanufacturing plants in Canada and the United States for companies to begin exporting wood products. Europe and the UK were natural choices as major post-war rebuilding was taking place. Soon Japan also came in as a serious customer for North American wood products. Today new customers like China, Vietnam, Korea and the middle east are serving to keep demand for processed lumber products high.


Using wood for building is a green and sustainable alternative to more expensive and less carbon-neutral components like concrete or steel. A tree not harvested will eventually burn, fall and decay, or become host to insects and pests. A healthy northern pine tree grows to be about 80 years old before reaching the end of its useful life span. As the wood degrades it releases carbon into the atmosphere. If the tree is felled when the cellulose is still good, that carbon is locked into wood products, and usually homes, for 40 to 60 years or more. New trees are planted, or regenerate naturally. A growing tree absorbs several orders of magnitude more carbon than a fully grown tree. lumber-directory-database-4.jpg



The days of clear cuts, slash and burn, and poor environmental practices in the forests are over. Canada has always been a leader in sustainable forest practices, and is now documented as a country with some of the best forest management models in the world. Lumber producing companies understand the importance, driven by customer demand, of maintaining good harvest techniques and are voluntarily members of such globally-recognized certification agencies as SFI and FSC.


As the 21st century gets underway, the North American lumber industry continues to adjust to demands for lumber products. For example, China's rebuilding after the devastating earthquake in 2008 is focussing specifically on using dimension lumber products. A major earthquake test in Japan in 2009 proved that a seven-storey wood-framed building withstood an 7.5 magnitude earthquake with barely a scratch. Other countries are also looking at building with wood rather than traditional materials like brick, clay, concrete and steel, due to safety concerns, sustainability and carbon issues, cost, aesthetics, and durability. lumber-directory-database-6.jpg


lumber-directory-database-7.jpg North America's lumber manufacturers produce a variety of products and sizes, using a variety of species. A directory listing all sawmills and remanufacturers, and extensive details about company information including contact names, emails, product lists, services, grading agency memberships and countries of export is a critical tool for anyone involved in log harvesting or transporting, selling sawmill equipment, sawmill repair services, looking for sawmill employment, sourcing lumber and panel products, or otherwise interested in the North American forest products industry.



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