This article was originally published in Invest In Style Cottage Life Issue, 2018.
Haliburton Forest is an unusual company, unlike any other in Ontario. It was the first company in Canada to be certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council. As one of the largest private landowners in the country, the company operates a diverse business that includes adventure ecotourism, overnight accommodations, sustainable forest management, and wood processing. With 100,000 acres of hardwood forest, 100 freshwater lakes, and 300 km of trails, there is something for everyone at Haliburton Forest.
The land that is owned by Haliburton Forest was privatized in the late-1800s. At the time, it was promoted by bigwigs?in England as viable for agricultural development, but few pioneers actually settled there. The land remained in a natural condition and was sold to logging interests. The style of logging in those days was not the same as it is today: the goal was to get the best wood out of the bush, as cheaply as possible.
In the early-1960s, Haliburton Forest was acquired by the Schleifenbaum family. They imposed a new management system with a progressive land ethic – rather than exploiting the forest for financial gain, they maintained a long-term view. In particularly, Peter Schleifenbaum worked to ensure sustainable forestry techniques. At the same time, he oversaw the development of a diverse ecotourism business. The current management team has adopted his vision to continue the legacy of sustainable, multi-use, private land stewardship at Haliburton Forest.
Tourism & Recreation
Haliburton Forest is perhaps best known for the operations within its Tourism & Recreation division. The operations vary depending on the season and conditions.
Throughout the year, the Wolf Centre attracts thousands of visitors and has been designated as an Ontario Signature Experience. Visitors not only have the opportunity to learn about the ecological role of wolves – they actually observe these top predators in their natural environment. Those that are truly lucky may watch them feeding!
During the summer months, the Canopy Tour turns an average walk in the woods into something way above average. Traversing through towering trees on a suspended walkway 20 meters above the forest floor o ers a literal “bird’s-eye view.” Visitors during the summer also enjoy hiking on 300 km of trails, fishing in 100 lakes, camping at 30 campsites, and much more.
During the winter, snowmobiling provides access to the wildest corners of the property on carefully manicured trails, while dogsledding allows visitors to experience the forest in a traditional yet thrilling manner. The Cookhouse Restaurant and on-site accommodations provide a high level of comfort, even in the coldest and darkest months.
The Tourism & Recreation division of Haliburton Forest provides exciting opportunities at any time of year, and the management team is always dreaming of the next big thing that will serve to excite and educate the public through experiences in the wilderness.
Within the “green living” community, Haliburton Forest is well- known for its innovative and sustainable forest management, as well as its value-added wood processing operations. The company conducts logging throughout the year to the highest standards and has been certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council since the mid-1990s.
In addition to logging, Haliburton Forest produces lumber and residues like wood chips at the Sawmill. These products are sold far and wide to furniture makers, flooring producers, and many other industrial users. It also manufacturers log homes under the EcoLog Concepts brand.
The Paddle Shop makes high quality, handcrafted canoeing, kayaking, and SUP paddles from the very best lumber produced at the sawmill. The craftsmen at this facility are happy to meet bulk orders for corporate clients, as well as custom individual orders for outdoors people.
Just down the road, the Wood Shop produces furniture from the same lumber harvested at Haliburton Forest and embraces orders for custom woodworking projects throughout the year. It also maintains a showroom, where visitors can browse a huge selection of products and purchase small or large bundles of lumber.
It takes 140 years for the average tree at Haliburton Forest to reach maturity. By focusing on quality when its craftsmen make their paddles, furniture and other wood products, Haliburton Forest does justice to the history of the growth of each tree.
Haliburton Forest is an unusual beast. It isn’t just a tourism company, yet it isn’t just a logging operation. The forest does not serve the sawmill, yet visitors embrace its wood products. Thanks to this diversity, there is something for everyone on its vast land base. Perhaps that is why people say that Haliburton Forest is the true definition of an accessible, sustainable, working forest.
Source: Chestnut Park Blog