Soaring lumber prices, self-reliance drive boosting small-scale sawmills

Fluctuating lumber prices, growing demand for shopping local and a drive among some woodlot owners to become more self-reliant are helping to propel a centuries-old tradition in the Ottawa Valley.

Many eastern Ontario farmers historically had their own on-site sawmills before the growing accessibility of commercial lumber reduced the popularity of backyard sawmills.

But this corner of the logging and lumber industry is undergoing a revival.

“A lot of people (are getting) back into personal sawmills,” says Darrell Sennett of Darrell’s Sawmill Sales, which sells equipment that turns felled trees into boards of wood. “Lumber prices – and the lack of lumber – have boosted my business.”

Sennett’s customers typically sell their lumber to the public or use it themselves for decks, fences or other purposes.

He predicts the backyard sawmill trend will persist beyond the current period of high wood prices.

“People are becoming more self-reliant (as well as) interested in buying local,” he says.

Watch the video above to hear Mark Van Dusen’s full interview with Sennett and sawmill owner Andrew Warren.