75 Year Legacy

75 Year Legacy


As Russian immigrants, in 1911 the Kalesnikoffs first moved to the West Kootenays to join a communal Doukhobour settlement called Champion Creek. Koozma Kalesnikoff’s parents and his brothers, Sam and Peter, arrived with dreams of peace and prosperity. Unfortunately, soon after settling near the banks of the Columbia River, the Depression set in and times were rough with opportunities few for nearly a decade.



In the bone-tired days of the hungry 1930s, Koozma Kalesnikoff envisioned a more rewarding future for himself and this family. After applying for timber rights up China Creek, 10 miles south of Castlegar, Koozma and his brothers first began to build what would eventually become Kalesnikoff Lumber Co. Ltd. The beginnings were humble. For eight months, using axes, horses and cross-cut saws, the three brothers punched their first logging road a distance of two miles and by summer of 1940 built a sawmill.



The brothers invested in their dream, modernizing their operation whenever and however they could. Right from the beginning, the Kalesnikoff’s dedicated themselves to preserving the natural landscape of the Kootenays and operated within Koozma’s guiding principle “Take care of the Land and the Land will take care of you.”



After several relocations within the Castlegar area, the brothers eventually established their operation in Thrums, where the Kalesnikoff Lumber mill stands today.

The brothers saw their business as a legacy for generations of Kalesnikoffs and they built their company with that in mind. At just 14 years-old, Peter’s son, Pete Jr. joined their workforce and became a driving force to expand and improve the business in the years that followed. He became the head sawyer at 18 and company bookkeeper at 20. And devoting his life to building Kalesnikoff Lumber Co. Ltd. he helped guide it from a bush mill cutting just 3,000 FBM per day to one of the cleanest well run specialty mills in B.C. today, producing 300,000 FBM per day.



The emphasis on family management continued at Kalesnikoff lumber when Pete Jr’s son, Ken, joined the team as a young teen as well. Pete Jr. passed away in March 2006, but Ken expertly mentored by his father, was able and ready to take the helm.


The Kalesnikoff tradition that people should earn their way into management through hard work and hands-on experience continues with the fourth generation of the family now preparing to take a place in the company history. The Kalesnikoff reputation for quality products and excellent forest management, built over six decades, is assured for many more years to come.