The Forest Industry Lecture Series (FILS) began and was developed as a collaborative event by members of the “forestry community” in Alberta to enrich the Forestry Program at the University of Alberta. The first Forestry class had enrolled in the fall of 1970, initiated as a Faculty program through the vision of Dr. Fenton MacHardy, then Dean of Agriculture. In 1975, Dr. Allan A. Warrack, then Minister of Lands and Forests in the new Peter Lougheed government, made an offer to Dean MacHardy, saying that he had done well in developing the forestry program, but students needed enrichment through speakers from outside who could bring in fresh insights. The offer was that his Department would match any outside funds the Faculty could raise to support a position or lecture series.
Several of the larger forest products companies in western Canada immediately responded and for two years, in 1975 and 1976, this new outside funding supported two visiting lecturers: Maxwell MacLaggan and Dr. Desmond I. Crossley whose expertise were respectively: forest industry, logging and forest products; silviculture and forest management.
In the meantime, Arden A. Rytz encouraged the sawmilling and plywood industries to add their support through the Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA), of which he had become executive director. Arden Rytz was a forester, graduating from UBC after wartime service in south-east Asia. This collaborative approach to shared funding has enabled this lecture series to achieve the level of success that it enjoys today.
The first designated Forest Industry Lecture was given in 1977 by the noted Canadian internationally respected forester Dr. Ross Silversides, who spoke on Industrial forestry in a changing Canada. The University and the Department of Renewable Resources in particular, deeply appreciates the support of its many sponsors.
Dr. Peter Murphy