Paper Machines at the Grand Falls Mill

The giant monolith of a building that eclipsed a lot of  the Grand Falls Mill housed “Moby Joe.” “Moby Joe” was a paper machine named for a whale, and the building that housed it  “Number 3 Machine room” was one whale of a building.

Aerial view of part of the mill circa 1975. (From Smallwood  The Face of Newfoundland.)

Having never worked in the mill and not being from a family of mill workers (the last person in my family to work for A.N.D finished in 1951), I am a little ignorant of how many paper machines were operating at any one time at Grand Falls. I do know that a machine was shut down in 1989 (Number 6) and in the later  years of operation during  the 1990’s and early 2000’s there two were two machines in operation, one of which was Moby Joe, which was installed in 1968.  The other it seems was noted as “Number 7” which was the newest of the machines recorded in 1966, which was shut down in 2005.The Rock, paper Scissors

Installing the first two paper machines in Newfoundland history.
paper machine no1
Early paper production.

Luckily, my information up until the 1960’s is better than what I have for later years. I currently don’t have the speed or wire width for Moby Joe, or know if there were any additional machines installed after 1968 ( I do not believe there was).  In 1966 the following machines were at the Grand Falls paper mill.

paper machine list 1966
Between 1909 and 1966 there were 7 paper machines and one sulphite pulp machine installed at Grand Falls. At the time of this publication (Price Newfoundland, Facts and Figures, January 1966) a new paper machine was planned: “A large modern, high-speed newsprint machine capable of producing in excess of 400 (tons?) per diem is expected to go into production in late 1967. Estimated cost $20,000,000.00.” This machine wold be the one known as Moby Joe. I believe that Moby Joe was built by the Dominion Engineering Works of Montreal.
Number 6 and 7 paper machines at the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company mill, Grand Falls, Circa 1930’s. (HM Dawe collection Memorial. You can see the manaufacturer and the date of manufacture on them.  University,

moby joe 1968 2

There are pictures of a paper machine aboard flatcars being shipped out of Botwood that were noted to have been “Number 1 being shipped to Jamaica.” I could not find any record of there ever being a newsprint mill in Jamaica, so if it went down there it is likely the experiment was not a success. I am not sure if the machine might have been re-purposed in any way, I do know that toilet paper and cardboard appear to be produced domestically in Jamaica. Most likely, the installation of Moby Joe allowed for the closure of some of the older machines without a loss in production, I am unsure of which machines though.

Number 1 machine jamaica 2 Judy Dean Gill Mar 10, 1970.jpg
“Mar 10, 1970. No 1 Paper Machine enroute to Botwood to be loaded aboard ship for shipment to Jamaica. Finished loading aboard ship Friday, March 13, 1970 midnight. Machine took 28 cars with a total weight of 543 tons”. (Pictures and caption courtesy of Judy Dean Gill. )
Number 1 machine at Botwood.jpg
Number 1 paper machine being shipped out though Botwood. It would be interesting to know if it had come in through the same port back in 1908-09 or if it came in though Lewisporte or St. John’s. It is very likely that it came in though Lewisporte as much of the mill machinery came in though there prior to the completion of the Botwood Railway.
Cardboard machine Grand Falls Western Star (Corner Brook, N.L.), 1945-03-10.JPG
There was a cardboard machine installed at the mill at the end of World War Two as the AND Company was experimenting with what other products they could produce from the timber harvested in the interior. (Western Star, March 1945)
Price expansion program.JPG
The future would be another 35 years and a few changes in ownership. From Who’s Who in Newfoundland 1974.

I am still looking for the particulars of when most of the  the machines were shut down at the Grand Falls Mill. In particular I am looking for when 2,3, 4, and 5 machines ceased operation.  I do know that the Number 6 was shut down in November of 1989 and that another machine was shut down in 2005, four years before the entire operation shut down. Any additional information would be greatly appreciated.

mill demo 1

-Bryan Marsh


  1. Don’t think there was a machine shut down in the 90’s? Number 6 shut down in 1989 and led to a huge labour dispute. Number 3 was a Mechanical marvel to see in action. Glad I got to experience it on work internships.


    • When Number 6 shutdown it was supposed to lead to the elimination of 30% of the workforce with 250 jobs being eliminated from the mill alone, not to mention a similar number in the woodlands operation. You were down there in 2003 right?


      • Yup. Another interesting aspect was the difference in employment numbers and production. I remember hearing they had close to 3000-4000 workers with 7 paper machines, but only produced slightly more paper of lower grade in comparison to when #3 was introduced.


      • Peak employment with 7 machines would have been sometime in the 50’s. I think back then there might have been 1500 in the mill full time plus at least 2500-3000 going through the woods payroll a year for differing lengths of time, plus a few hundred at the docks in Botwood and 60 odd for the rail operation.


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