About Us

Historical highlights

Spray Lake Sawmills has a long and proud history as a member of the Alberta business community. And for well over half a century we have been a growing part of the Alberta Forest Products industry. Here are some of the company’s historical highlights.

1943: Founding of “Mjolsness Brothers” in Sundre, Alberta by Chester Mjolsness. His brother Lloyd partners with him in 1946.

1954: Name changed to Spray Lake Sawmills when company started operating in the Spray Lakes area south of Canmore.

1965: Spray Lake Sawmills begins searching for a permanent mill site.

1969: Spray Lake Sawmills moves to Cochrane.

1974: Present facility built in Cochrane. Spray Lake Sawmills begins its long-term relationship with the Town of Cochrane.

1980: Second generation of the Mjolsness family purchases the company. Barry Mjolsness becomes new President & CEO of Spray Lake Sawmills.

1990: SLS Commences major safety initiatives and drives towards COR certification.

1996: Spray Lake Sawmills becomes the third company in Alberta to achieve FORESTCARE certification.

1996: Spray Lake Sawmills commitment to 100% utilization of wood fibre with the opening of Top Spray.

1996: Town of Cochrane recognizes SLS as Employer of the year

1999: Official opening of newly upgraded sawmill facility. The mill showcases state-of-the-art technology that will ensure SLS is an industry leader well into the next millennium. SLS is Cochrane’s largest long term employer providing over 150 full-time jobs, 50+ seasonal jobs and extensive economic activity for hundreds of local and provincial suppliers.

2000: SLS wins three of the province’s most prestigious business and environmental awards.

2001: Spray Lake Sawmills enters into a Forest Management Agreement with the Province of Alberta.

2002: Achievement of FORESTCARE Re-certification under new codes for safety, environment and forest practices

2003: Edmonton Express site opened

2005: Addition of ACQ treating plant

2005: Spray Lake Sawmills purchases the coniferous timber quota of Atlas Lumber

2007: SLS obtains initial TRD certification for environmental and safety practices in both Wood Preservation Plants

2007: Spray Lake Sawmills Detailed Forest Management Plan is approved by the Province of Alberta

2010: Barry Mjolsness receives the Order of Cochrane for his work in supporting the community

2012: SLS maintains TRD certification for both Wood Preservation Plants, scoring 100%

2013: SLS obtains TRD certification and commences using MCA, the safest and most environmentally friendly preservative on the market

2013: SLS turns 70 and hosts an open house event.

2014: Grade Expert system installed

2015: Top Spray diversifies by purchasing a HydroSeeder

2016: SLS transitions to single international standard – Sustainable Forest Initiative

2016: SLS maintains employment for 200 full-time staff and 100 contractors

2018: SLS celebrates 75 years in business.

2018: SLS Sponsors Layne McGillivray in the Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby.

2018: The mill site operating approval is renewed until 2028.

2019: SLS Sponsors Layne McGillivray for a second year at the Rangeland Derby.

2019: The original Kiln gets a rebuild in July and the new shop and wash bay are completed.

2019: SLS converts the wood treating facilities from ACQ to full MCA brown treated product.

2019: The sawmill begins a series of upgrades starting with the Trimmer Scanner and replacing the VDAE with a new state of art sawing system, increasing diversity of products and throughput.

October of 2019: Chester Mjolsness celebrates his 100th birthday.

2020: COVID Pandemic strikes, causing business interruption for 6 weeks, lumber markets increase with home renovations and new home builds taking off in the US.

February of 2021: donations to STARS Air Ambulance total nearly $400,000 since 1993

March 4, 2021: Chester Mjolsness passes away at 101