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Renowned Lodge Showcases Versatile, Durable, Alberta Wood

The people at Jasper Park Lodge believe wood is good and Alberta wood is a winner. The national park's biggest lodge, which attracts thousands of visitors from around the world each year, has just completed the $15million Sir Henry Thornton staff village comprising 300 bedrooms in 14 buildings on the hotel site. "Our company has a number of leading hotels in Alberta, and we always try to use Alberta products and suppliers as much as possible," says general manager Kevin Toth. That commitment was passed on to Calgary architect Ron Boruk, who developed a design which reflects the lodge's characteristic stonework, chinked logs and heavy timbers, and which relied almost entirely on Alberta materials and trades. 


Lodge GM Kevin Toth outside new staff village.

The result was an order for half a million board feet of Alberta lumber for the structural work, and another 250,000 feet of lumber for the siding and exterior detailing. Robert Rosen, president of City Lumber and Millwork in Edmonton, said his company took on the challenge of creating a unique series of milled profiles to make dimensional lumber reminiscent, when installed, of the look of traditional log construction. This special treatment was given to the 2x4 siding, 4x12 exterior trim pieces and other specialty trim items. 

The beauty of wood complements mountain grandeur.

Rosen says the project demonstrates that Alberta's softwood lumber meets and beats the quality, durability and affordability demands of topflight builders. "Most projects like this have used coastal cedar or fir for exterior millwork and trim," says Rosen. "We suggested to Andy Clark, president of Clark Builders, that we could give him everything he wanted in durability and beauty at half the price - using Alberta wood." Clark agreed, making the new staff village a world class project that showcases the quality of Alberta wood and Alberta manufacturers. Rosen credits the inherent quality of Alberta wood for this new level of recognition, as well as a political climate that encourages a sustainable and entrepreneurial utilization of part of the province's forests. 

Stringent, but fair, harvest and reforestation practices help make up the Alberta Advantage, he says. "Premier Klein and his Cabinet have been very supportive of the forest industry over the years. And our ministers, Mike Cardinal with Resource Development and Jon Havelock with Economic Development, have been extremely proactive, along with Economic Development Edmonton President Jim Edwards, in addressing the needs and concerns of the primary manufacturing as well as the value adding industry." 

Alberta can now boast a wood products sector with world class strength throughout the value chain - from forest stand to conversion into high value products to utilization in high end customer projects. "As a company and industry we're extremely proud to be part of this project," says Chris Andersen, Peace/Alberta regional manager for Canadian Forest Products. "I personally believe wood is a Renowned Lodge Showcases Versatile, Durable superior building product, from a structural and an environmental point of view and a lot of the new lifecycle assessment science supports this. 

A project like the lodge's staff village also shows that the quality of Alberta wood is second to none. It proves Alberta has the resource and the expertise to take this natural material all the way from a sustainable forest to a finished product in one of the most admired beauty spots in the world." His hope now, Andersen says, is that more corporations and architects take greater advantage of wood's attributes such as cost savings, natural beauty, durability and a more gentle environmental footprint than some other building materials. Can Alberta wood stand the test of time? Just look at those old grain elevators and railway stations, says Rosen. And architect Ron Boruk of Calgary agrees. "They have cabins at the Lodge that are 70 years old, and their condition is just amazing." Bill Gablehouse, a partner with Clark Builders, says there's even more to this Alberta success story than lumber. 

Everything except mechanical and sprinkler systems was sourced from Alberta building product manufacturers and suppliers - wood trusses from Alberta Truss, wood stairs from Sandhills Manufacturing in Spruce Grove, PVC windows from Gienow Building Products in Calgary, mirrors from Hinton, drywall from Leduc, and much more. John Leurdyke, Building Products Director, Industry Development Branch, Alberta Economic Development, says the lodge project has put the spotlight on a provincial building products sector that includes 1,200 companies, employs more than 36,000 people and generates sales of more than $6 billion. "We've got a tremendous range of products manufactured in Alberta, from wood products to PVC windows to leading edge composites.

And this expertise is being recognized internationally as well - the sector is exporting building products and systems worth about $2 billion a year." Kevin Toth of Jasper Park Lodge says a thorough process of consultation with the public and National Parks officials ensured wildlife and ecological issues were dealt with properly before construction began. "People come here for the scenery," says Toth, "so we fully believe that it's in our best interests to be good environmental stewards and to understand that if our business is to be sustainable, then our environment must be sustainable." 

For Robert Rosen, meanwhile, the Lodge project will signal builders and architects that Alberta wood is a building and finishing material of choice. "It's a winner," he says, "and as we enter this new century it's going to offer some tremendously exciting new opportunities in markets here and around the world."


Alberta products used almost exclusively.


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