Our 136 year history of lumber distribution is proof of our commitment to ensure customer and supplier satisfaction while ensuring that the transactions undertaken meet the objectives of profitability to secure the long-term viability of the company.
From our head office in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and a branch sales office in Calgary, Alberta, we have established an efficient distribution link, shipping Western SPF, Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Eastern SPF, Cedar, Plywood, OSB, Engineered Wood and various hardwood species from our North American lumber producers to our customers.
History - Our Second Century
The Theo. A. Burrows Lumber Co. Ltd. was founded in 1879 at time when forests seemed inexhaustible and opportunity for new settlers abounded. The company's accomplishments through its 136-year history are due primarily to the groundwork laid down by the company founder, Theodore Arthur Burrows.
Born in 1857, Theo. A. Burrows inherited his sense of adventure from his paternal grandfather, John Burrows who left his home in Plymouth England in 1813 and sailed to Canada, settling in Bytown where he was granted the first land patent issued in the country. Burrows, an engineer by training, became the Overseer of Works for the construction of the Rideau Canal, which linked Lake Ontario with the future capital city of Ottawa. Today, the Houses of Parliament, seat of the Canadian federal government sits upon the original Burrows homestead.
In 1877, the spirit of adventure lured Theo. A. Burrows on a journey west. Immigration to the new province of Manitoba was slow, but settlers made the arduous trip in search of land that was rich and fertile. Burrows first worked on a survey crew charting the Lake District. This early experience exposed him to the raw riches of the region and ultimately influenced his decision to engage in a career in the forest industry.
The new settlers’ need for lumber seemed insatiable. After Burrows purchased his first timber berths on Lake Winnipeg, he proved to be an astute businessman and in 1879, established The Theo. A. Burrows Lumber Co. Ltd. The company prospered. Acquiring vast timber berths, the company logged great stands of majestic pine, tamarack and spruce, loading the timbers onto horse-drawn sleighs, crossing the frozen land to river's edge where spring log runs carried it to his sawmills downstream. The lumber was cut and planed then shipped to markets across Canada and the United States. In addition, the company operated 38 retail stores across the Prairie Provinces, furnishing building supplies and construction plans a s well as building advice to customers.
In 1890, Theo. A. Burrows co-founded the Western Retail Lumbermen's Association whose mission of self-regulation helped to develop accepted standards and recognized business practices for the lumber industry. Burrows was a major proponent of selective cutting and forest management and spoke at forest industry meetings on the value of sustainable development.
Burrows realized the key to western Canada’s success was a reliable transportation system. On that platform, he ran for public office where he lobbied extensively for increased rail service to encourage future immigration but also to provide transportation of prairie product to markets. In 1925, for his service as Land Commissioner to the Canadian Northern Railway, (now the CNR), he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, a post he served until his death in 1929.
His cousin, Theo. A. Sparks assumed ownership of the company and steered it through the difficult years of the Depression and World War II until the 1950s when the company was purchased by the Le Page family. In 1976, James W. Clarke purchased the company from the Le Page family.
This summary is derived from the textbook A Company Ahead of Its Time: The History of the Theo. A. Burrows Lumber Company ISBN 1-55056-869-8