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Long-Time Windsor Mill Employee Recalls 60 Years at Domtar

Categories: Our Company
Philippe Messier, second from left, receiving a watch in 1985 for his 25th anniversary of working for Domtar. From left: Pierre Trudel, Messier, Denis Allard, René M. Tremblay. Read more about how this long-time Windsor Mill employee contributed to our history.
Long-time Windsor Mill employee Philippe Messier receives a watch in 1985 in honor of his 25th annniversary of working for Domtar. (Left to right: Pierre Trudel, Messier, Denis Allard, Rene M. Tremblay.)

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We’re marking Domtar’s 175th anniversary in 2023. This milestone was achieved thanks to the dedication of employees and retirees like long-time Windsor Mill employee Philippe Messier, who officially retired from the Windsor Mill in 2020 after 60 years of service.

He worked for Domtar and predecessor companies for more than one-third of our 175 years, beginning his career at the mill as a summer student in 1960.

Messier transitioned into a regular job that fall.

“Since I had to help my parents financially, I didn’t go back to school,” he says. “I continued to work. At the end of September, I was asked why I was still working and not studying. After explaining my situation, they offered me to continue working as a regular employee.”

He started on reserve, working in different departments as needed until he joined the steam and recovery department in 1967, where he worked for the next 30 years. He became foreman in 1975 and retired for the first time in 1997.

But he wasn’t retired for long. That same year, the long-time Windsor Mill employee began his second career as a mill tour guide, a role that allowed him to pass on his knowledge of the mill and his passion for our industry to thousands of people during the next 23 years.

“It was a new experience for me,” he says. “I enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life who were interested in visiting this integrated, automated mill — the only one of its kind in Canada. I enjoyed explaining the process to visitors, so that they left with a smile on their face and a good understanding of how high-quality paper is made.”

His favorite memory of his time at Windsor was the 1985 announcement to build the new mill — the last fully integrated fine paper mill in Canada.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be part of it,” he says. “All the work we had to do: construction follow-up and installation of new equipment, instructor training, employee training, ending with the start-up of this magnificent mill. We had to do it one step at a time.”

Today, at 84, the long-time Windsor Mill employee still likes to say he has Domtar “tattooed on his heart.”

“For me, Domtar was the lifeline in working life: a secure job, a good salary and, not least, the chance to put into practice the theoretical knowledge I had acquired in my three years of high school technical scientist program.”