A Great Canadian Invention

There are several ways of making paper, one of which I will explain. Trees are made of cellulose fibers glued together by many chemicals and substances collectively known as lignin. To make paper, trees are reduced to a pulp of the cellulose fibers. Chemicals are used to dissolve the lignin away. Then the fibers are matted together in a paper-making machine to produce paper like I am writing on,

In 1923, the Ontario Paper Co, mill was built in Thorold, Ont. The highest quality pulp then came from the sulphite process - a process that uses sulphurous acid to dissolve the lignin. After the fibers were removed and sent to the paper-making machine, there remained immense quantities of liquid, This liquid was dumped into nearby rivers, causing pollution. The rivers became yellow with a whitish foam that reeked to high heaven for miles downstream.

My grandfather, Dr. Charles A, Sankey, spent many years reducing the pollution by producing valuable by-products from this waste liquid. One such by-product was vanillin - artificial vanilla flavouring. It reduced the pollution and also made Canada approximately one billion dollars, since Americans are very fond of it and buy it more than most other countries.

The invention made so much money that the company continued to operate the old sulphite process to feed the new vanillin plant, which, by the way, employed one hundred and fifty people for nearly three decades. This one small plant made one quarter of the world's production of artificial vanilla flavouring.

As usual in industry, Grandfather received only his regular salary for all his work. Although he's been retired for twenty years now, he can't help but remember all the useful jobs he created, and how much Canada benefited from his ideas. The plant closed down three days ago, which is too bad, but it really was a great Canadian invention.

Margaret Sankey
A grade 7 essay
4 January 1988