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History: Town of Roddickton

Roddickton is a logging community located North West of Meelpaeg Lake on the Great Northern Peninsula. It is accessible by travelling 275 kms north on route 430 from Deer Lake, and then south across the peninsula on route 432 for another 100 kms. It is located 10 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean in sheltered and very scenic Canada Bay

It was originally named Eastern Brook, the area was frequented for salmon fishing, hunting and trapping by the early settlers of Englee and Wild Cove. In 1905 the Grenfell Mission sent men from St. Anthony and Hare Bay to Eastern Brook to build a schooner for the mission. In 1906 the mission began a sawmilling operation on the site, which was named Roddickton after Newfoundland-born doctor Sir Thomas. G. Roddick, a supporter of the mission. The first settlers, then, were people hired by the mission from Englee and Wild Cove to be mill hands and loggers. Grenfell also had land cleared, with the intention of growing crops for the St. Anthony hospital. Roddickton had a population of 46 by 1911. By 1921 however, there were only eight people. The next year the mill was closed and the settlement was all but abandoned.

Four years later, Englee merchant John Reeves returned to begin another sawmilling operation. The mill expanded soon afterward when the Carbonear lumber dealers and furniture makers Saunders and Howell acquired it. After Saunders and Howell moved additional mill machinery from Norris Arm, annual production rose to 5,000,000 running feet. In the late 1930s Bowater’s began pulpwood cutting in the area and acquired the Saunders and Howell timber rights. Employment increased dramatically as people flocked to Roddickton from all over white Bay, the population increasing to 548 by 1945. Sawmilling once again provided an important source of employment after 1958, when Chester Dawe Ltd of St. John’s opened a mill lumber operations in the area were again expanded in the early 1970s

In the 1960s the construction of a road on the east side of Canada Bay ended Roddickton’s isolation and gave another boost to population growth as the community developed into the area’s service and supply centre. Other people arrived from a number of communities in White Bay under the resettlement program. By 1961 the community boasted a population of 1185.

This period of growth was followed by scaling back, and then eventually by the closing of Bowater’s pulpwood operation, leaving the sawmill as the only large employer in the town. The community experienced further economic difficulties in the 1980s with reductions in lumber output. A crab plant was opened and provided some additional employment, but Roddickton experienced disastrous fires in the late 1980s which damaged both the crab plant and sawmill. In 1992, the sawmill was back in operation at a reduced capacity and the crab plant rebuilt, but not reopened.

In 2006 the Town had a population of 900 with the largest employer being Holson Forest Products which operates an integrated sawmill on the site of the former Northchip Ltd. Operation.

Upon till 2008 Bide Arm and Roddickton were unique communities with individual identities. In late September of 2008, the towns of Roddickton and Bide Arm signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Municipal Affairs to amalgamate.

An election on Dec 9th, 2008 determined the mayor and councillors that would lead the new town of Roddickton-Bide Arm into the future. One of the councillors left the area to take on a new career therefore leaving an open position for a new councillor. On Nov 20, 2009 an election was held and a new councillor was elected

On August 21, 2009 the Provincial Government made the announcement that it is backing a multi-million dollar proposal that will modernize a saw mill and establish a wood inventory yard and pelletizing facility on the Northern Peninsula, an area that is under tremendous pressure as a result of the downturn in the forest industry.

The $10-million investment in Holson forest Products of Roddickton-Bide Arm will sustain approximately 300 direct and indirect jobs in the region and create a new industry in manufacturing wood pellets. Under the Forest Industry diversification Fund of the Department of Natural Resources, the company will receive a $7 million non- interest term bearing loan to be repaid over a 15-year period, as well as a $2 million grant. The Department of Environment and Conservation will also invest $1 million under its Green Fund toward the establishment of the wood pelletizing facility.

Holson will establish a regional wood inventory yard, which will allow harvesting to begin on the Northern Peninsula this season. The inventory of fibre will serve as feedstock for the proposed wood pelletizing facility when it starts production in the spring of 2010. The wood inventory yard will maintain direct employment in the industry for about 140 people. Sawmill modernization and the establishment of a pellet plant will create an additional 22 jobs.

Vegetation in the Roddickton-Bide Arm area is a mixed forest, the boreal forest in the Beaver Brook watershed is considered some of the most “productive” of the island, with fuller and larger individual trees than other regions. Balsam fir is the most common type of tree, especially at lower elevations. Black Spruce is found at the higher elevations along the Long Range Mountains, these two species have been important to the nearby communities of Roddickton. The Roddickton-Bide Arm area offers a vast local forest you can view the Cloud Mountains from Roddickton which is breathtaking.