Bill Plaunt Sr.

W.B. Plaunt Sr. - CKSO AM FM TV - Cambrian Broadcasting - Sudbury OntarioPhoto Credit
Andy Thomson (Plaunt Family Historian)

Bill Plaunt Sr. was born in 1879.   He grew up in a farming community west of Renfrew, Ontario.  He worked with his father until he was 19.  In those days, farming and lumbering were considered to be natural complements. Leaving the Renfrew area, Bill would join a cousin working at Eddy Brothers, in Blind River, Ontario from 1904 to 1909.  Next he was contracting for the Lake Superior Paper Company on the Algoma Central Railway through to 1912.  Meanwhile Bill met and married Mildred Martha Hicks after she graduated from nursing in 1912.  Mildred was originally from Sault Ste. Marie.

Bill continued in the lumbering business by forming a partnership and opening White and Plaunt Ltd.  The company provided services on a contract basis to the Spanish River Pulp and Paper Company.

Bill Plaunt Sr. and his wife Mildred Martha Hicks, moved to Sudbury in 1912.  Business continued and by 1929, Plaunt bought out his partner and started a new company, W.B. Plaunt.  This new company enjoyed large territorial rights with lumbering boundaries from Quebec to Lakehead and along the shores of Lake Superior.

In 1943, Bill Plaunt Sr.'s son, Bill, Jr. joined the company.  In three year's time Bill Sr. took some time away from the company to enjoy a little semi-retirement.  This gave Bill Sr. more time to explore other business avenues and found himself becoming partners with George Miller Q.C. and Judge James Cooper and purchased the Sudbury Star newspaper.  They would sell the paper to Thompson Newspapers some four years later. Neither of these gentlemen were ready to retire however.  They next put together a private company that would bring television into Sudbury in 1953. They established what would be the first independent television station in Canada.

Mr. Plaunt has been described as a strong family man who also showed his ongoing concern for the welfare of those he was responsible for.

After ten years of cutting pulp, Plaunt wanted to find a means to make use of the jack pine stands that were not needed for the pulp contract. He was successful in negotiating a contract with the CPR to supply railway ties.  He found the location of Wye, alongside the Spanish River, ideal for a mill site.  He could drive the jack pine here which was close to the CP line.  Plaunt bought the timber rights for the area, established a mill, logging camps and a village. However, just then the stock market crashed and Plaunt's partner left.  On his own, Plaunt found his way to INCO's headquarters in New York to establish a significant contract with the company to provide it with ties as mining timers.

To survive in such a difficult economy Plaunt would use methods that were avoided by other business people more inclined to make profits for themselves.  Plaunt shared the profits over and above what were budgeted for with the workers.  This practice provided the men sometimes with as much of a bonus as their salary, kept them happy and feeling appreciated, and resulted in a 99% return of the labour force for the next year.  In fact Plaunt was able to hold on to these workers which made up a 150-man camp over the course of ten years.

In 1991, Mr. W.B. (Bill) Plaunt, Jr. was recognized for his contribution to the development of Science North.  As a key business supporter he encouraged municipal council to provide capital funding for its creation.  Mr. Plaunt, Jr. was chairman of United Broadcasting when the company announced a $150,000 donation on behalf of its shareholders and staff.

Mr. Plaunt was also a key organizer of the Rusty Blakey aviation activities at Science North and was instrumental in the fundraising campaigns for the Rusty Blakey Commemorative Sculpture.   Thurston "Rusty" Blakey, 1911 – 1986, was a pioneering Canadian aviator and bush pilot.  He was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1992.  In his honour, a monument was erected at Science North, by the Rusty Blakey Heritage Aviation Group. It is the site of an annual Rusty Blakey Air Show.