Located just seven kilometres from downtown Squamish B.C., the Woodfibre Site is steeped in a rich history that holds a captivating story. Accessible by boat only, Woodfibre was established in 1921 as part of a naming contest. Until then, the town was known as “Mill Creek,” which had to be changed because it shared its title with a B.C. post office. The winning entry was “Woodfibre” – a wood fibre used in manufacturing products like paper.
At its height, the mystic area was home to about 750 people who lived through regular community events. Residents recall their experiences of living on the shores of Howe Sound, raving about the strong sense of community and its several amenities. Get-togethers were regular occurrences as parents dropped their kids off at the local school, and during off hours, you could find residents going for strikes at the bowling alley, sipping pints at the Legion or two-stepping at the dance hall.
Taking advantage of the cool breeze, onlookers gathered at the side of the tennis court to watch intense games, diving into the crystal clear pool afterwards. Locals flocked to swim meets with rivals from Britannia Beach and Squamish, events that brought the three towns together during the hotter months. At the end of each day you’d find friends and family relaxing in their bunkhouses or company homes, chatting about their days over a conversational dinner.
There’s always a draw to a town that slows down despite a healthy, exuberant past. In 1973, the Woodfibre townsite officially closed for good and by 2006, all pulp mill operations at the site stopped. What was once a bustling town became a nearly abandoned site with more than 350 pulp mill workers and administration staff losing their jobs. To many of them, the oceanside charmer, Woodfibre, was home – it’s where they grew up and had careers. In fact, some families had lived and worked there for two or three generations.
What was left of the site made it difficult to revive. After 100 years of pulp mill operations, sediment and wood waste plagued the shoreline, harming the fish habitat. Also destructive to sea life includes 3,000 creosote coated piles waiting to be removed.
When Woodfibre LNG purchased the area, they also committed to cleaning up the aftermath of the pulp mill operations. With their upcoming project of building a liquefied natural gas processing and export facility, the team’s main priority is taking responsibility for the area’s revitalization and giving back to the community it’s invested in.
Here are photos taking a look back at what the town of Woodfibre once was.