For over 100 years Soo Mill has served the community and is one of Sault Ste. Marie’s oldest remaining active businesses. The founder of Soo Mill, Fremlin Edward (Lynn) Hollingsworth was born on Oct. 16, 1887 (according to the 1901 Census) in Montreal, Que. His family moved to the Algoma region where he attended school in Hilton Beach on St. Joseph Island. In 1906 he took business classes in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. and worked for Lock City Manufacturing Co. for eight years.
In 1909, Baldwin Lumber Company opened on the corner of North and London Streets. In 1913 Baldwin sold out to Corrigan and Milne Lumber Company and soon after Corrigan became the sole owner of the business. In November 1914, Fremlin Hollingsworth purchased a half interest in Corrigan Lumber Company. In 1921, Mr. Corrigan retired and sold the remaining interest to F.E. (Lynn) Hollingsworth. He changed the name of the business Soo Lumber Company until it was finally named Soo Mill and Lumber Co. Ltd.
In 1922, the original plant was torn down and a new mill and office area was built. The following year a new section was added to the mill. By 1932, a much larger addition was built. Soo Mill would continue to expand with another addition in 1938.
On March 31, 1923, F.E. (Lynn) Hollingsworth married Agnes Luella Simpson and their three sons eventually followed their father into the family business. It was important for their sons to understand the entire business so family members would start working in all areas of the business and eventually work their way up through the various levels of the company.
Their son Simpson served in the R.C.A.F. before joining the family business in 1946. After working his way through the company, he would eventually become president. Lynn Jr., their second son began to work at Soo Mill in 1949. He worked in bookkeeping, retail selling and eventually plant manager. Using his Engineering Degree, Lynn Jr. worked in the subdivision work and home designing. In 1953, Ian, their third son graduated as a civil engineer and joined the company. He worked initially as a salesman on the retail floor before becoming a plant manager. He also managed the Michigan Maple Block Company. When F.E. (Lynn) Hollingsworth, Sr. retired from the lumber business in 1952, he knew that his sons would continue to look after his company!
Soo Mill made a major change in 1952 with the construction of a brand new building on Railroad Avenue and North Street, housing the offices and showrooms for the retail store. Soo Mill continued to expand over the next decade by purchasing 50 per cent of Downey Building Materials Ltd. and in 1953 would own 100 per cent. This meant that they were able to build houses from the ground up using all of their own materials! In 1956, Soo Mill added a 25,000 square foot expansion to their North Street store. In later years, Soo Mill Buildall would expand their retail business to Wawa and Elliot Lake and add another store on Second Line West. By the 1980’s they had outgrown their downtown space so they moved to a much larger complex on Great Northern Road, closed the Second Line store and consolidated their operations on Great Northern Road in 1986. The Michigan Maple Block Company was closed in 2006 and was demolished is 2007.
Over the past years, the next generations of the Hollingsworth family have entered into the business, too. Today, Soo Mill is a favourite family business with a long history that continues to serve the building needs of the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie.