Powell River Company’s Post War Rehabilitation Plan

-Vol.21/1945/No.1-Jan. p.2/3 – “…We know from your letters and from talks from the men who have come back, that most of you are pretty keen to get back to Powell River. We, too, are looking forward to that day, and we want to have a suitable job with security and prospects for advancement ready for you. This is a huge task, but it is the objective toward which we are striving. Let us tell you about our job program first. As you are aware, in October, 1939, we gave certain undertakings regarding the re-employment of men who left their jobs to enter the services. We want, if possible, to do more than this for our men in the Services. It is our ambition to help every man who left the Powell River Company for active service to obtain suitable employmenet on his return. This is a pretty big order, for there are today over 1000 from the Powell River district who are on active service, of which well over 700 are company employees-a record of which we are intensely proud and which we are sure is unequalled in Canada.
Every employee whom we have hired since giving our undertaking in 1939 has been told that you, who are on Active Service, retain your seniority, and that his employment is made subject to this condition. However, merely to discharge them to make way for you would be a poor solution.
A considerable number of these employees are veterans themselves, and many others have been rejected for service in this war. They and our old employees have worked together well, and have maintained a high efficiency ion the plant despite labor shortages. They have backed you on the fighting front and put Powell River over the top on every Victory Loan. That is one of the reasons why we are going ahead with our plans for plant diversification. In the end it is going to mean more employment, more diversified employment in new fields, more opportunities for individual initiative and more secure employment.
Now about “suitable employment”. Many of you will want your old jobs back. Others, however, especially the younger ones who had just started in the mill, won’t want to go back to their old jobs. Some of you have had fine technical training in the services, have become highly skilled tradesmen, have shown a capacity for leadership which has resulted in rapid advancement in rank. It may be to your advantage and to our advantage to see you placed, not in your old job, but in a job where your training and talents can be best used. To assist in this we are employing a full time personnel counsellor to deal with the placement of our returned men, and he will be available to assist you whether you are coming back to work with us or not. We expect he will be a Powell River man with service in this war-in other words, with your background. We are going to have him trained in job placement, and he will learn every part of the government program of vetern assistance. His job will be to assist you to get back into employment where you will be of most value-and he will be aided by an Advisory Committee which will include representation from all phases of the community activities. We are going to get the best man we can, and hope to be able to report his appointment soon.
Some of you won’t be able to take up your old jobs because of war injuries. We will help find you employment you can take, if it is possible. Some of you may be coming back to Powell River, but not to work for the Company-you may want to go into business for yourself. We will be glad to see you, and our special personnel counselor and his committee will help you in every way they can. Now, our products at Powell River are primarily peace-time commodities, and we believe that, immediately following peace, there will be an excellent demand for all of our output. Moreover, we have many natural advantages, with which you are familiar, and the opportunities for diversification justify a future optimism. In Powell River we will have a minimum of problems in converting from war industry to peace industry, but there will have to be a construction period before our plant expansion is complete. We have started the dredging now, but most of the work cannot be done until the end of the war when we can get the materials and labor. We hope some of you may help us build the new plant extentions before you go to work in them. In the end we hope it will create suitable employment for our veterans, our old employees and also for many of those employees who have joined us since you left, without whose help it would have been impossible to carry on.
Why are we doing this? First, in gratitude for what you have done for us. You volunteered to fight for the security of Canada-we feel it is or duty to help provide security for you in return. Our second reason is a purely selfish one. We think Powell River is a good community now, but we want to make it still better, and we can think of no finer group of citizens to settle in our town than you who have fought for it.
Wishing you the very best of luck and a speedy return.
Yours sincerely,
S.D. Brooks,
Harold S. Foley,
R. Bell-Irving,
D.A. Evans.”

- Vol.20/1945/No.2-Feb. p.1 – “The resonse to the special letter sent by the Powell River Company to all employees in the armed forces (and reprinted in part in our last issue) has been very gratifying. Scores of replies have been received from men on all fronts and all praise the Company’s initiative in its rehabilitation plans. One thread runs through all the letters. It appears to have eased the minds of many, uncertain of their post-war status or opportunities. It has cleared up many apprehensions which have unavoidably risen in servicemen’s discussions. It has convinced our men that the Company and the folks at home have been making concrete plans for their return; and that they are conscientiously assumig their responsibilities to the men who have been fighting for them. The Company has been decidedly encouraged by these letters from its employees. It is a satisfaction to know that most of them contemplate returning to Powell River. We ar looking forward to having them back with us.”
- Vol.21/1945/No.6-Jun. p.14/15– “Also home in Powell River (was)…Lieut. Jack Gebbie, Saskatoon Light Infantry…Lieut. Jack Gebbie was well over a year in Italy, and took part in all the major engagements from Taranto to Rimini and beyond. Jack will take over the important post of Personnel Counsellor for service men in the Powell River Company.
- Vol.21/1945/No.7-Jul. p.12- “Among the latter (awaiting transfer to the Pacific) is Lieut. Jack Gebbie who returned to take over the important post of Personnel Counsellor for the Company. Jack will handle all problems in connection with the re-employment and disposition of service men-a job for which his experience, background and intimate knowledge of Powell River especially fits him. He was 18 months with the First Canadian Division in Italy. At present he is in Ottawa, familiarizing himself with veterans’ legislation and rehabilitation problems before returning to Powell River to assume his duties.”