Our History

Herb. Shaw and Sons Limited is a locally owned, family run company deeply rooted in the heart of the Ottawa Valley. With humble beginnings in 1847, Shaw Lumber is now believed to be the among the oldest family-run forestry companies in Canada!

It All Started With A Man Named John …

John Shaw I was born in Inverness Scotland in 1814. By 1826 he immigrated to Upper Canada, and established himself as ‘John the Miller’.
In 1844, John married The Honourable Thomas McKay’s niece Barbara, and in 1847 the couple traded their established life in Bytown for the Ottawa Valley wilderness. Accompanied by their young son John Shaw II, the family ventured across the rugged Valley via horse, buggy and canoe, to settle near the shores of Lake Dore.

By the end of 1847, not far from the family’s log home on the shores of the Snake River, John erected a 3-storey grist mill. The Shaw Family Legacy had begun.

‘John the Miller’, perhaps considered a ‘Jack of all Trades’, not only constructed the dam required for the mill’s hydro-power, he also built the first Shaw sawmill. By 1851, this sawmill produced 93,000 board-feet of lumber each year!

Today, the dam and two of the original 450-kg grist stones are still visible on the East Side of Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre –site of the original Shaw family homestead.

Fun Fact: The name ‘John’ has been passed down through five generations family tradition with John V currently at the helm with his cousin Dana.

Significant Dates in the History of the Company

1847 – The first Shaw sawmill and gristmill begin operations on the Snake River – just a stone’s throw from Lake Dore
1870 – John I’s sons, James and Thomas, establish and run Western lumber operation in Dauphin, Manitoba and Prairie River, Saskatchewan
1906 – Jim and Tom build and operate 50 miles of privately owned logging railroad — the only one of its kind in the history of Western Canada
1920 – Western operations cease
1927 – Brothers Herb and Len, sons of John II, operate the lumber business under name “Shaw Brothers”
1930 – Early contracts for hand-peeled cedar poles for the Bell Telephone Company
1937 – Bell switched to using hand-peeled treated red and jackpine poles
1952 – Firm name changed to Herb. Shaw and Sons Limited after the death of Len Shaw
1960 – Acquired Nelson-type mechanical peeler
1962 – Official opening of the Shaw Dam – a dam built by the Ontario Government that replaced John I original wooden dam. A commemorative plaque is erected.
1966 – Purchased a Mobark Long Pole Peeler – the first of its kind in Canada
1966 – May 20th: Ceremony commemorating the peeling of the 1,000,000th pole
1968 – Purchased Pineridge Lumber and commenced operations at 31 Sharon Street, Pembroke
1973The “Shaw Woods” Nature Preserve, a joint project of the Shaw family, The National Museum of Natural Sciences and the Nature Conservancy of Canada is dedicated
1987 – Shaw Lumber is incorporated after the Eganville division of G.W. Martin Lumber is purchased
1989 – August 15th: United States and Canadian Patent 4856843 is awarded to Herb. Shaw and Sons for a Side Loading Trailer Body for hauling lumber
1991 – Eganville sawmill burns – Shaw Lumber employees move to Herb. Shaw and Sons’ Pembroke operations
1997 – July 4th: Shaw Family celebrates 150 years in the lumber business
2008 – June 30th: To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the last squared timber drive down the Ottawa River, Herb Shaw and Sons constructs an authentic timber crib and floats it to the Canadian Museum of Civilization
2010Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre is established as a registered Not-for-Profit charity
2022 – December 12th: Herb. Shaw and Sons Limited celebrates its 175th anniversary with special guest Ontario Premier Doug Ford