Beaufort Forest Products: Not your typical BC wood product

“It all started with a love of wood,” said Neil Sorensen, owner of Beaufort Forest Products, when we asked him how he got started in the business of manufacturing boat-building lumber.

Before Neil got his start in wood manufacturing, he was a diver in the geoduck clam fishery on the West Coast of BC. Neil has fond memories from his days as a fisherman; he remembers how everyone would raft up together and gather on one of the boats after a long day on the water. While they had several different types of boats in their fleet, it was the wooden boat that everyone always wanted to gather on.

Over the years, Neil has owned many types of boats: aluminum, wooden, fibreglass, and others. But for Neil, nothing compares to a wooden boat, “they just have an incredible warmth to them, and there is no other word for it.”

When Neil sold his fishing business, he got involved in logging and sawmilling but kept being drawn away from standard wood manufacturing projects and towards highly complex projects like producing boat-building lumber. He always enjoyed the challenge of cutting and manufacturing specialty wood to a variety of unique shapes and sizes for his clients. Between his passion for boats and his love for wood, Neil eventually found his ideal work as a boat lumber manufacturer. Over the years, Neil’s client base grew and in 2010, along with his partner Al Small, he founded Beaufort Forest Products in Parksville, BC.

Beaufort uses a variety of wood for its projects, including fine-grained old growth, Douglas fir, yellow cedar and some spruce. Neil said one of the biggest challenges is finding enough big logs to make the various cuts. They spend a lot of time going from timber sales to log yards. Once they’ve purchased the timber, Neil and his team will look at their cutting list, carefully inspect each log and determine the best way to get the most use out of each piece of wood. The planning process is usually very time-consuming, but it helps ensure that little to no wood is wasted after it’s been cut.

Mounting a bowsprit on the Maple Leaf, a historic 92-foot schooner.

Most of Beaufort’s wood comes from the larger forestry companies on Vancouver Island or First Nations forestry operations. The company’s product is sold across Canada and in the United States. In Canada, they have sold as far as Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and they sell a vast amount of wood to boat repair yards in the Lower Mainland. Beaufort’s clients are extremely diverse, from boatyards, to community associations, to folks who simply love wooden vessels.

One of Beaufort’s largest and most significant projects was the refurbishment of the Dredge No. 4, which was a project for Parks Canada. Dredge No. 4 is the largest wooden-hulled dredge in North America and is located along Bonanza Creek Road near Dawson City, Yukon. It is a national historical site as it represents the importance of dredging operations in the Yukon from 1899 to 1966. For more information about the dredge and its history, visit

Below is a photo of the Dredge No. 4 (you get a sense of the size of this project when you spot the man in the high-vis vest).

One of the massive timbers for the Dredge No. 4: 

Transporting timbers to the dredge site: