NewPage Port Hawkesbury closes its doors

Port Hawkesbury has been producing paper for almost 50 years, but that all comes to an end Friday.
The newsprint machine was shut down last Saturday, while the machine that makes glossy paper was turned off Friday. ((CBC))
 Port Hawkesbury has been producing paper for almost 50 years, but that all came to an end on Friday.

The NewPage Port Hawesbury Corp. mill is closing indefinitely. The machine that produces glossy paper for magazines was turned off Friday. The newsprint machine was shut down last Saturday.

From people on the street to business owners, feelings about the closing of NewPage are mixed.

"This is the heart of this place," Joe Meagher said of the pulp and paper mill that opened in 1962.

NewPage has been the economic engine of the town, employing 600 people in the mill and 400 in the woods. Hundreds of others depend on the plant for indirect jobs.

"So far it's business as usual. We're really just plugging away. We haven't noticed any real change yet, but down the road that could change," Bill Turner, of Strait Car Care and Furniture, said Thursday.

Engineer Devon Clark is looking for a new job. ((CBC))
Engineer Devon Clark knows his future is not in Port Hawkesbury. He came to the mill from Ontario, right from university, and now plans to leave.

"I may look at some things in New Glasgow. Some places out in B.C. had called wanting me to fly out for interviews. There's a lot of opportunities," he said.

But Clark said many of his co-workers feel differently.

"Within the management groups, there's a lot of optimism that the mill will be sold. Even within a lot of the union workers, there is a lot of optimism that we will start up again. But not everyone can wait for an indefinite period of time, especially if you're not from the area."

Denise Pelrine said the closure will have a drastic effect on the town.

Denise Pelrine says families are being ripped apart by the mill closure. ((CBC))
"A lot of families are being ripped apart. So, it's going to be hard on a lot of people," she said.

"I have a father-in-law that worked there for 35 years and that will be it for him. I know his wife is really stressed out by it all. Finding another job will be really hard."

NewPage Port Hawkesbury was given creditor protection last week so it can try and find a buyer for the mill.