Mr. Alaska Pine is Honoured
Forestry magnate and UBC benefactor Leon Joseph Koerner has been recognized by the federal government as a Person of National Historic Significance. The May 14 ceremony took place in the penthouse of the Thea Koerner House — Leon’s former home and one of the many campus buildings and scholarships to bear the family’s name. …A Czech Jew, Leon arrived to Canada in 1939 after fleeing Nazi expansion the year before. A successful forestry executive in his home country, he recognized the potential of British Columbia’s timber reserves during a visit here. He was particularly taken with hemlock … which Leon made usable through European drying techniques. Rebranding it as “Alaska Pine”, Leon started a company and quickly became one of the province’s most successful entrepreneurs, distinguishing himself for ethical environmental and labour practices that went beyond the standard of the time.
By Zak Vescera