RPFA Annual Meeting
Presentation by Stephen Thompson
I would like to thank the Association for allowing me to be part of tonight’s presentations. It is truly my honour and privilege to say a few words about one of your inductees, my father, Downey Thompson. But before I do that I would like to send out sincere congratulations to Laurie and the entire Ledwidge family on behalf of the entire Elmsdale Lumber family and especially from your co-inductee. We understand your pride and we are feeling the same way this evening. We are sincerely delighted to be sharing this evening with you.
As I look out over the crowd this evening I recognize some very familiar faces; faces that Dad and I have run into in the woods, faces that we have seen across boardroom tables, faces that have called upon Dad for his advice or opinion, or faces we have seen at one of the many hockey rinks or ball fields throughout the province. Fortunately for the industry, there are new faces here tonight that are not so familiar. Many of the familiar faces already recognize Dad and his commitment and contributions to the industry, but as much as he likes seeing old familiar faces, he is VERY interested in meeting unfamiliar faces. It gives him satisfaction knowing that the industry is attracting new and vibrant folks who will make sure that we continue to have sustainable forests for generations to come. For the benefit of both the familiar faces AND the not-so-familiar faces, it is now my responsibility to highlight some of Dad’s accomplishments that have led to his induction into the Nova Scotia Forestry Hall of Fame.
Dad started with Elmsdale Lumber Company when he was 15 years old and it wasn’t long before Dad’s mentor, JB Wilber promoted him to Woodlands Manager. JB of course was the father of ELCO’s current owner and President, Robin Wilber. JB, who passed in 1990, introduced Dad to the concept that service to ELCO AND the industry was part of his new portfolio. Sixty-six years later, he continues to be an active and productive part of our management team and although his length of dedicated service to the company is noteworthy, his industry related accomplishments along the way also represent more than time spent; it represents time INVESTED.
He has given his time, energy and expertise to the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia, as a long time member, a long time director and eventually serving on the executive as an executive member, a President and a Past President. He is especially proud of this accomplishment. It was during his time as President that he spearheaded a communications strategy and he traveled throughout the province meeting with a variety of stakeholders discussing Nova Scotia forest management. Dad recognizes that communication is a key to success and the future of our industry. He is one of the keenest supporters of the Canadian Woodlands Forum’s Teachers Tour and each year he actively recruits teachers on behalf of ELCO and other sponsors to ensure a good attendance at this event. Since the tour’s inception in 1999, he has made a point of attending every tour to meet with the teachers to promote sustainable forestry.
He has given long term service to a variety of industry boards including, the Nova Forest Alliance, the Wood Products Manufacturer’s Association of Nova Scotia, the Maritime Lumber Bureau, and the HRM Development Strategies Committee to name but a few.
Dad is often quoted as saying, “I’m half environmentalist and half forester”. His involvement with the management of Pockwock Watershed since its establishment in the
early 70’s speaks to his passion for striking a balance between the environment and industry. His management blueprint continues to make Pockwock Watershed an IDEAL that continues to draw the attention of other watershed projects all over the world. It also continues to be a popular tour stop for foresters, environmentalists and the public.
Dad has been the recipient of many awards and citations, from industry, government and his community. He is very proud of each of these awards but I have it on personal authority that this award, being inducted into the Nova Scotia Forestry Hall of Fame, is one that gives him the most pride. To be included in such an elite membership is very humbling for Dad, and I know that you all agree with me when I say that, “he is certainly worthy of this distinction”.
I am proud to say that he is also MY mentor but I know that he did not save this gift for me and me alone. He shares and continues to share his wisdom and experience with forest industry professionals, government officials, various stakeholders, and the public.
I don’t what to miss lead you. It has been said that if Dad were to cut himself, he would bleed sap. His lifelong passion has been the Nova Scotia forest industry but, he does have other passions. His community is also high up on his list of priorities, particularly youth sports. When he is not at the mill or in the woods, you will probably find him at a local rink or ball field, watching his grandchildren and now, great grand children enjoying in their favorite sport. The method of his sponsorships of some of these teams, like Dad, has been very humble. He would never want his name splashed across the back of jerseys. He is more comfortable passing over an envelope and saying, “I’m sure you can put this to good use.”
We have a small sampling of folks from ELCO here tonight to join with Dad in celebration of his accomplishments. Dad, on behalf of those present and the folks back at the mill, I would like to extend our congratulations on your induction. We are all extremely proud of you and all that you done over the years to help us get us to where we are today. And, that is a very successful family business which continues to grow and prosper, even in these very difficult and challenging times. You are the perfect example of “energy in – results out” and everyone at ELCO is working hard to live up to your expectations.
Dad, tonight is a time for celebration! I know you are going to stay up well beyond your bedtime tonight Dad. Don’t worry about it. Enjoy your evening and get rested up tomorrow because the crew will be expecting you to open the gate for them again early Monday morning.
Once again, on behalf of your family AND your ELCO family, congratulations!