Back row, left to right: Arthur, Georges and Fred Lecours. Middle row: Marie, Évangéline (mother), Angeline Lecours. In front: Claire Lecours (Town of Hearst collection; picture donated by Mrs. Simone Carmiré)
In April 1927, Arthur Lecours left the town of Sainte.Justine, Qc, to come and live in the Hearst region. He and his family chose a 150-acre farm east of Hearst to settle. Arthur’s brother, Rosaire (better known as “Fred”), joined him in August of the same year. Coming from a long line of foresters, the Lecours quickly set to work in the Hearst forest.

During their first years in the region, Arthur and Fred both worked on the farm during the summer and spent their winters logging and transporting pulpwood near Jogues. Several companies used this pulpwood, including Newaygo Forest Products. During the 1930s, Arthur continued forestry work while Fred tried his hand at selling horses, bringing them in from the West and selling them from a stable in Hearst, where there was a heavy demand for them. In 1935, the Lecours brothers united to buy the Hearst Lumber lumber yard which belonged to Vital Brisson. Fred managed the lumber yard until it was sold a couple of years later. 

A third brother, Georges Lecours, arrived in the region in 1933. He and some of his children worked in the forest industry as well.

The era of the Lecours as major employers began in 1939 when Arthur Lecours was granted logging rights in the Stoddart Township and built a sawmill at Carey Lake. The mill was destroyed by a fire in 1941, but Arthur rebuilt it and added a planer in 1942. Tragedy struck the Lecours family in March 1943 when Adrien Lecours, Arthur’s eldest son, died in a work-related accident. Deeply distraught by the death of the man who had been his right arm, Arthur sold his Carey Lake mill to Ernest Gosselin. However, the same year, he built a new one in Calstock. 
Arthur Lecours' Carey Lake sawmill, early 1940s
(Town of Hearst collection; picture donated by Mrs. Simone Camiré)
Meanwhile, Fred also attempted to make a splash in the lumber industry. He explained: "I purchased a ‘limit’ near Angelina Lake (in front of Forde Lake) from the Arrow Timber company, in the Studholm Township. I built a sawmill in the fall of 1942. Lumber was then in great demand; the asking price was low but the demand high. I sold to companies in Toronto" (Excerpt from an interview with Fred Lecours, Le Nord, September 1, 1976).

Fred Lecours operated the Angelina Lake mill until 1951. That year he built a new sawmill 6 miles north of Calstock. In 1956, Fred handed down operations of his mill to three of his nephews (sons of Arthur), namely François, Paul and Jules Lecours. The three new owners created F. P. & J. Lecours Company Limited.

Fred Lecours' Angelina Lake sawmill
(picture donated by Mrs. Doris Beauchamps)
In 1960, the mill owned and operated by F. P. & J. Lecours Co. Ltd. was moved to Calstock to saw its own wood and wood from A. Lecours and Sons Co. Ltd., which was owned by Arthur and some of his sons.
The Lecours' first Calstock mill
(picture from the Notre-Dame de l'Assomption Parish souvenir album, 1969)

In 1963, Arthur Lecours sold his share in A. Lecours and Sons Co. Ltd. to six of his sons, and the company merged with F. P. & J. Lecours Co. Ltd. to form Lecours Lumber Co. Ltd., still a household name in the region today. The owning partners of this new company are François, Paul, Jules, Charles, Benoît and Laurent Lecours.
 The co-owners of Lecours Lumber Co. Ltd., before 1988
From left to right - top row: François, Paul and Jules Lecours;
bottom row: Charles, Laurent and Ben Lecours
(pictures donated by the Lecours family)

Several changes occurred at the Lecours Lumber Co. Ltd. front office over the years following the merger. Charles and François quit the company in 1968 and 1972, respectively, bringing the number of partners down to four. The 1980s saw 3 other Lecours brothers pass away: Jules in 1982, Laurent in 1988 (although he had left the company two years earlier) and Paul in 1988, thus making Benoît Lecours (commonly known as "Ben") the sole proprietor of Lecours Lumber Co. Ltd.  He is helped by his daughter Sylvette and his son Roger. Also worthy of note, the families of Jules and Paul Lecours got involved in the company for a few years after the death of the two men.
 
Ben Lecours, current owner of Lecours Lumber Co. Ltd.
with Sylvette and Roger Lecours
(picture donated by the Lecours family)

Besides changes in ownership, more changes have shaped the Lecours Lumber's aspirations, notably in the way they obtain timber. In addition to a gradual increase in logging rights, Lecours Lumber Co. Ltd. has been able to secure timber from sale and third party agreements (consisting in trading wood chips for logs useable in sawmills). Today, Lecours Lumber Co. Ltd. obtains 182,000m3 of wood from purchases and third party agreements with companies such as Spruce Falls, Kimberly Clark, Neenah Paper and Wagner. In 1982, Lecours Lumber Co. Ltd. bought out the Gosselin Brothers' mill for $3.5 million. Furthermore, after the closing of the Levesque Lumber sawmill in 1992, Lecours Lumber Co. Ltd. was able to secure half of the defunct company's logging rights. Today, the volume of wood available to Lecours Lumber Co. Ltd. hovers around 480,000m3

In 2006, Lecours Lumber Co. Ltd. is the only independent sawmill in Ontario that produces more than 100 million feet of lumber per year. The company employs more than 200 workers during the summer and 250 during the winter. To explain his company's success, Ben Lecours declares, "If you're not moving forward, you're in reverse", claiming that his enterprise has been able to implement the necessary changes over the years to ensure that Lecours Lumber Co. Ltd. stays competitive (Excerpt from an interview with Ben Lecours, July 2006).

 


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