Women in Forestry: Diane Gladman

Diane Gladman

Paper Excellence, Crofton Mill

This is Diane Gladman, a number two backtender, who has been at Paper Excellence’s Crofton Mill in the Cowichan Valley for 22 years. In this role, she takes care of the dry end of the pulp machine – getting the pulp sheet through the dryer, cut into bales, weighed, wrapped, stacked and out to the warehouse with as few issues as possible. In addition to assessing the pulp machines and fixing any issues, she does quality control testing to ensure the pulp meets their customers’ standards.

Diane’s family has been involved in forestry on Vancouver Island for four generations, and they have a long history of working at the Crofton Mill. Her uncle worked there when the mill opened in 1957, and her dad and brother both delivered wood chips as truck drivers. As a kid, Diane worked with her late father on his backyard mechanic projects, and that’s where she first developed her mechanical skills.

Diane is very proud of her involvement in safety and training at the mill. She and her son (a videographer) created many safety and training videos that the mill uses. She says the mill is super loud, and it’s difficult to explain what’s happening, so showing a video of a running pulp machine and the issues that might arise is a huge help.

Diane said the mill is loud and humid, and the shifts are 12-hours long. It can be scary being around big machinery all the time and you always need to be aware of your surroundings. That being said, she would encourage any woman to get involved in any trade. “When you fix something or figure something out, there’s a great feeling of accomplishment,” says Diane. “I’ve had lots of moments where I’ve solved a problem and felt, ‘Yeah, I can do this!'”.