John Brink was born in Nazi-occupied Holland at the beginning of the Second World War. From the time he could walk, his days often consisted of foraging for food with his brother and sister. His mother was left to raise the three kids alone when their father was drafted into the Dutch Army. They wouldn’t know if he was alive until the liberation of their village, by Canadian soldiers, on April 12, 1945.
This was the exact moment John determined he would make his life in Canada … the land of his heroes. He was only five years old.
Like many others who lived through that time, John has lived his entire life with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting from being in a warzone.
At 15 years old, John apprenticed at a major Dutch lumber company, rapidly progressing through the management ranks.
The experience would prove invaluable to John in his later life. He developed an in depth knowledge of the European forest industry and maintained relationships from the European lumber industry throughout his life. He still frequently advises and speaks at international venues on global forest industry issues.
John emigrated to Canada in July 1965 to pursue his lifelong dream to build a lumber mill in Canada, from the ground up. He left Amsterdam with $150 and one suitcase, filled mostly with books and one set of clothes. When he arrived in Prince George, B.C. he had precisely $25.47 in his pocket. He could not speak the language, had no job, and did not know a soul.