It’s finally a cold day when I arrive at The Hollow Log in Caledonia on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. I am greeted by Joanne, Chris, Chris, and Cindy in their restaurant covered in photos of logging history in the area.

I am given a great, hot cup of coffee when I learn that the Weare’s have been in Caledonia forever.

“Great Grandfather’s on both side are from the area” Joanne says. “Even great, great grandfather’s. My father was a school bus driver in the area but also ran a power saw and trucked for my Uncle Willis at Willis Forest. On the other side, their Grandfather logged with horses.”

I turn to Chris and ask him when he decided when he wanted to be in forestry.

“I was born into it” Chris responds. “I was in the woods with Dad since I was five years old. I spent every weekend working in the woods with him.”

“Tell him about your bike.” Joanne adds.

“I went to work in Shelburne when I was younger on my dirt bike and the landowner ended up calling dad thinking I was just some young punk trying to steal or break the machine.”

I ask if he ever wanted to do anything else.  

“Not really.” He responds. “I liked mechanics as well but because we always have to do it on the machines I just challenged the test and got my Red Seal.”

I ask Joanne how long she has been in forestry for.

“Ever since I met Roger.”

I turn to Cindy with the same question.

“I was also born into it but I have been doing the paperwork since 2005.”

Shifting the conversation a little bit I ask why the Hollow Log.

“Roger’s mother had owned and operated a restaurant in Caledonia.” Joanne says. “It’s important that the community has somewhere to get a meal and to hangout.  Especially in a logging community, he wanted the truck drivers to have some place where they could get a cup of coffee and a homecooked meal. That was always really important to Roger. So he called me one day and said he bought the building, which at that time was the old pharmacy, and I said “no you didn’t.” But then I felt bad and I told him to go for it and here we are.”

“We officially opened in 2012.” Cindy adds. “We have some locals that come everyday and we get a lot of customers when Keji is open.”

With the tough year everyone has had I have to ask how Covid had affected their business.

“I mean it was tough.” Joanne said. “We had just started getting musicians to come in and we were getting good turn outs and Covid definitely effected that.”

“The drive through was helpful though” Chris adds. “Dad always wanted the Hollow Log to have a drive through and Covid made that happen.”

As someone who lives in the community, selfishly I ask if the window will stay open.

“Oh she’s up and running. It won’t be going anywhere soon.” Cindy says laughing.

Although working in a restaurant doesn’t seem to align with forestry, this one sure does. While baking cheesecake seems more fun than stripping pulp, I ask Cindy and Joanne what their favorite part about working at the Hollow Log is.

“It’s knowing that we are here for the community if they want a place to eat and gather.” Cindy says with what I assume is pride. “We even have a trail that connects to our parking lot. It’s on private land but Chris and his crew built it. People will come and grab a coffee and breakfast sandwich and walk it everyday or people who are four wheeling will come in and stop for lunch. Those things are really important in a rural community.”

I know that I am lucky to have this establishment in my community as well as all other locals, tourists, and forestry workers.
For more information on R&C Weare Logging or the Hollow Log Cafe please follow these links:

R&C Weare Logging Ltd.
The Hollow Log Cafe

If you subscribe to our newsletter you would have had a first look at our December Forestry Family. If you don’t, we would like to introduce you to the Veinotte Family!

It was a rainy, grey December day when I showed up at the Veinotte’s shop in Pinehurst. Any grumpiness that I was feeling was immediately washed away as I opened the door to three friendly smiles. If you have ever had the pleasure of dealing with any generation of Veinotte then you know exactly what I mean. If not, I hope I can tell you.

The Veinotte’s are owners of Veinotte’s Heavy Equipment and do a lot of the road building down here in Western Nova Scotia. Throughout this interview you will be hearing from Ivan (grandfather/father), Larry (father/son), and Clint (son/grandson).

As the four of us gather around a pile of tires and donuts I ask Ivan how long he has been in the forestry industry for.

“Well, I guess it would be around 58 years.” He responds. Me, a little surprised as he does not look like he could be old enough to have worked that many years in any industry, asks how he got into forestry.

“I lived in Ontario for a couple of years working at a muffler shop. When I came home I bought a piece of land in the area. I started cutting and hauling on that piece of land and it just kept growing.” Part of that growth included his son Larry and grandson Clint. I ask them the same question.

“About 52 years today actually because it’s my birthday” Larry was able to get out before the phone starting ringing.

“Well, I am 25, so about 25 years” Clint said with a big smile.

As someone who was not born into a forestry family I ask Clint if he ever wanted to do anything else. With a laugh he answers “No, I love it. I tried quitting school to work full-time but my Dad wouldn’t let me. I think I was around 8 when I first ran an excavator.”

Larry comes back into the room and I ask him what sparked his interest in forestry.

“Forestry” he says with a laugh “I just wanted to dig in the ground.”

“He’s always loved it.” Ivan adds. “I had to chase him out of the garage ‘cause he always got into everything! He would have been really small the first time he got into a piece of equipment, probably 6.”

For the Veinotte’s it has always been a family affair so the question seemed a bit redundant but I wonder how forestry has helped their family.

“Well, it keeps us employed” Larry said.

“We worked for Bowater for 30 years up until they closed in 2012.” Ivan added.

“Luckily we knew all the roads in the area and after they closed we had work pretty quick.” Larry chirped in “Actually I think it was two months after WestFor started that we got the call the call from Marcus. Clint built the first road for you guys.”

Turning to Clint, I ask how old he would have been when he built the road.

“Ah, I would have been around 19 when I built that one.” He responds.

As I am thinking about what I was doing at 19, I ask what his favorite part of working in forestry is. At this point Larry is going to answer the phone for the fourth time.

“Everything. I enjoy every part of it.” Clint says with the permanent smile on his face.

“I would say that my favorite part is keeping people happy and employed.” Ivan responds. “I like hoping in as a spare and running a piece of equipment if they need it but I also like the office side of things.”

Larry catches the end of this and asks what Clint said.

“I said everything.” Clint directs the answer to his dad. Larry gives him a look and says “I’ll remember that.”
“Oh, I like every part except for taking crap.” Clint blurts out at Larry.

While we are belly laughing at this, I take a second to catch my breath and ask a question which, at this point, I already know the answer to.

“How is it working together every single day?” I say and by every single day, I mean every single day. This family spent Christmas eve, Christmas, New Years Eve, and New Years day working together.

“We love it.” Ivan says. “99% of the time we love it.”

And the other 1%…?

“We don’t talk to each other.” Says Clint with a laugh.

“Or we use loving “choice” words.” Larry adds laughing as well.

From this point on those loving “choice words” were used as the four of us stood around laughing at each other.

Leaving the shop my cheeks hurt from smiling and my heart is full from my time with such a beautiful, welcoming family. I was beyond grateful that through their busy schedule and one million phone calls, they made time to speak with me.

These men are the backbone of our economy here in Nova Scotia and we should be proud that they are.

Our planned and on-going forest harvest in Digby County follows all current provincial Special Management Practices (SMP) identified for mainland moose. The SMP was created by the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry biologists based on science including recommendations from the Nova Scotia Mainland Moose Recovery Team.

Contrary to recent media reports, the preservation of an iconic species like the mainland moose is very important to us. The planned and on-going harvest in Digby County, like all of our harvests, receives approval based on compliance to provincial Mainland Moose Special Management Practices and all other block approval requirements.

With the implementation of moose shelter patches, moose retention patches, moose buffers, roads and access points, as well as coarse woody debris targets, habitat issues are being addressed through  the Mainland Moose SMP. The mainland moose issue is complex and involves many more pressing threats, including brainworm, winter tick, and poaching.

This area has been portrayed in the media as intact old growth forests when in fact the area has been sustainably managed since the late 1800’s. It is the economic backbone of the community and has been for multiple generations of forest professionals. Forest workers, their families, and the local communities have benefitted from the sustainable forest management in the area for generations. This area is also the back yard for many individuals in Digby County. Forestry has provided the necessary infrastructure for accessing the area and will continue to provide a safe area for people to hike, fish, gather, and enjoy the outdoors. Forestry and the mainland moose can co-exist here as they do in many other areas across North America.

We were happy with the result of Friday’s hearing. While we appreciate the concern and passion of the protestors in Digby, we continue to believe that a responsible forest industry can be balanced with the need to protect our natural environment, including endangered species.


If you have any comments please feel welcomed to email them to us at!



The WestFor Management Team


If you subscribe to our newsletter you would have had a first look at our November Forestry Family. If you don’t, we would like to introduce you to the Hankison Family!

It was one of those miserably cold, grey November days that we are all too used to here on the East Coast as I traveled down the Riverdale road found in Digby County.

It is an area that has been logged for over two centuries. While we have public blocks in the area, I was visiting the Hankinson’s on one of their private blocks.

Despite the cold weather (and me interrupting their work day) I had the pleasure of chatting with three generations of Hankinson’s men. Roger: father and grandfather, Sandy: father, son, and brother, Leo: brother, son, and uncle, and Scott: son and nephew.

Starting with the most handsome of the bunch, I ask Roger how long he has been in the industry for.

“I got my first truck in ’75 but my dad was in forestry. He owned 2500 acres around Bend in the River area and had a pulp mill.” Roger responded. “It was the best growing area.”

“I was seven when my dad got his first truck.” Leo confirmed. I ask the three remaining Hankinson’s the same question.

“Forever.” Sandy responded with a laugh. “Leo and I started our own business in ’89.” Their business was awarded Contractor of the Year for the Atlantic Region from the Canadian Woodlands Forum in 2003.

“When I was finished my mechanics program and Sandy finished at Ranger school we started up.” Leo added.

“How old were you when you cut your first tree down Scott?” Sandy yelled at his son getting out of his harvester.

“I don’t know, it was my first memory.” Scott said.

“I have a picture of Scott in a diaper after just cutting down his first tree. So he was born into it as well.” Sandy said proudly.

“I always wanted to go to work with my dad.” Scott said. “I started getting paid at eight years old and I have been harvesting for 10 years. If I was bad in school my punishment was not going to work.”

“His mother is a school teacher.” Leo pointed out. “Scott was always very good in school. Good grades and tutoring others kids but every holiday or weekend Sandy and I would switch to night shift and our boys would run the day.”

“I even used to lay down in the back seat when I was younger so their boss wouldn’t see me going to work.” Scott smiled. “I’ve always loved it.”

Besides being in forestry it is evident that all four of these men are mechanically inclined. Roger, Leo, and Curtis, all took heavy duty or some type of mechanics. Scott welded a boom together just a few days before. Curtis currently works at Wilsons as a heavy duty mechanic.

“My son is on his way down right now.” Leo said smiling. “He’s taking tomorrow off to come and work with us.”

As someone who loves people, I have spent a lot of time with many different families but I have very rarely seen one that enjoys spending this much time together.

“We’re best friends.” Sandy stated. “We aren’t even one full year apart.”

“We’re the same age for one week.” They say in complete unison.

“We have fun. Last weekend we were out competing in the woods.” Leo said with a smile.

As a family that has been in forestry for at least four generations, I have to ask what their hope is for the sector in the future.

“To keep working.” Sandy said. “We know that it can be done. We cut everything you saw on your drive in here.”

“There are some stands here that we cut before we had kids and now we are hauling stud wood out and putting trails through.” Leo states.

Spending time with this family that has supported themselves for at least four generations with forestry fills me with hope for the future of our sector.

For more information on the Hankinson’s and their accomplishments please visit this link:

Here at WestFor we are thankful for the many proud, passionate, hard-working men and women that contribute to the forest sector. We would like to take the next 12 months to highlight 12 families that are a part of the sustainable forestry practices that happen in our province.

We would like to start with Wade Turner and Gail (Turner) Mercer, owners of J. A. Turner & Sons (2012) Ltd. Wade and Gail took over their fathers mill in 2012 after working along side him for 15 years. The mill has been there for over 40 years.

It’s a beautiful fall morning at the Turner mill in Bridgewater, NS. At the desks inside are two friendly faces with big smiles that would make anyone feel welcomed.

With phones ringing and trucks on the scale the brother sister duo somehow find the time to chat with myself and anyone else walking through the door.

“How long have you been in the forest industry?” Directing the question at Wade first. He takes a second to pause before answering.

“About 30 years actually. I worked at MT&T for a while but didn’t enjoy living in the city so I came back to start at the mill about 30 years ago. I also sheared Christmas trees for about 3 summers as a student when I went to the Nova Scotia Institute of Technology.”

With knowing how labor intensive shearing can be I have to ask why.

“I liked it!” He answers more excitedly than I would have expected. “My co-worker and I had a great time blasting music and goofing around a bit while we worked. I also used a knife which made me feel more like a Ninja, that definitely helped.”

“I have been working in the industry for 26 years.” Gail answered with a smile. “I started working here with my Dad after my big sister got pregnant.”

I ask Gail when she realized she was first interested in forestry.

“I don’t know if there was ever a specific moment; it was always a family business. I graduated from high school and went to the Nova Scotia Community College for Accounting with the mindset of working here.”

Gail has been married to her husband Jason for 21 years and forestry has provided half of their income for the entirety of their marriage. It has allowed them to live across the street from the mill with their three cats Miller, Molly, and Mia.
Wade has been married to his wife Heidi for 24 years and forestry has also provided half of their income for the entirety of their marriage. Wade and Heidi have two kids, Leah and Luke and one cat named Callie.

“Would you like for your children to follow in your footsteps?” I ask Wade.

“Well, Luke actually worked half days here this summer sorting wood. He enjoyed it, but would I want him to work here after school? It is an unpredictable business and you want to know that your kids will have security.” Wade said before answering the phone.

I start chatting with Gail while we wait for Wade to take an order over the phone. It is not very often I get to talk with other women in the sector as we are few and far between. I admire her, especially as an owner of a mill. She starts to share some of the minor struggles that she has to deal with on a daily basis.

“Even answering the phone people will ask for Wade, or if one of the ‘boys’ are there. I have been in the business for 26 years and most of the time I actually know more than the people calling. They don’t like to admit that though.” She says laughing. “But I don’t mind, it creates more work for Wade and less work for me! Plus, if we have long term customers they know who to call.”

Wade hangs up the phone and continues to fill out an order form.

“What is your favorite part about working in forestry?” I ask to the room. Wade without missing a beat pipes up.

“The people. I went to school in New Germany and I know these kinds of people. Kind, hard-working citizen. Covid was hard because we had the ‘Drive-Thru’ window and I couldn’t chat as much and I am a people person.” Taking a second to process he also said “And I could not do a job where I was tied to my desk all day.”

“I like that it isn’t the same thing everyday. There are all kinds of different things to do and all kinds of different requests from customers. We always do our best to make it work, so that can create some interesting interactions.” Gail added.

I ask the question that any sibling would be thinking.

“How is it working with your brother/sister?”

“We’re okay with it.” They almost answer in complete unison.

After our interview we walk around the yard to get a few photos. Seeing them interact with each other, how they support each other all the while laughing together almost makes me think that I could work with my siblings.


Thanks Wade Turner & Gail Mercer for continuing on a legacy and being a staple in your community.

Whether it’s for their work at their mill or getting involved in the community through running groups or coaching minor hockey, we are lucky to have them.

For more information about J. A. Turner & Sons (2012) Ltd. Please feel free to follow this link:

Today is World Forestry Day!

It has been a rough year for our sector across the country from mill closures to false information spread over social media. While there are a lot of misconceptions and personal attacks on social media about forest workers, we thought today would be a great day to remind everyone that the individuals that work in the forest sector are real people! They are people who are highly educated with student loan debts, people who spend their weekends walking in the woods with their families and pets, and people who are involved in their communities whether its providing for local economies or volunteering with children’s sports team or scout groups.
We have spent a lot of time highlighting our contractors and mill members on our Facebook page but today we thought it would be fit to shine a little light on one of our own staffers.

This week we had one of our field staff out doing Pre-Treatment Assessments’s (PTA). In one of our proposed harvest areas he found a stand that looked a lot like old growth. He then spent the rest of the day mapping ATV trails and brooks within the area to make sure they would have the proper buffer and went home to return the next day with the equipment he needed to do an old growth survey.

Everyone meet Makyle! Makyle is a MCFT grad who has spent his whole life in the woods. He loves spending time in the forest whether its during work hours or not. When he isn’t running around doing PTA’s, layout, old growth surveys, post harvest inspections, road inspections, regeneration surveys, PCT surveys, or supervising an operation he is mountain biking in the woods, hiking/camping with his amazing girlfriend in the woods, or taking photos of, you guessed it, the woods. Turns out the stand was old growth and Makyle has protected it and has taken it out of the proposed harvest area.

If you know someone in the forest sector, reach out to them today to let them know you are thinking of them! #forestersarepeopletoo