Management Team

Haliburton Forest is not your ordinary forestry or tourism company. In terms of its hierarchical structure, it is a very flat organization. With the extent of its lands as a work place, the diversity of its operations and the variety of activities offered and engaged in, Haliburton Forest’s staff are an integral part of the operation. Every member of the team has an important role to fill, brings a certain, important expertise to the organization and contributes in more ways than in many other “traditional” companies to the overall success of the company. Commonly, any staff at Haliburton Forest carries with him/herself a lot of responsibility, which is accompanied by the resulting authority. The staff’s efforts are coordinated and managed by a small group of professionals, who do not stand out much from all other staff and can often be found working side by side with their colleagues, be it sorting lumber at the sawmill, guiding clients through the forest, repairing equipment or marking timber. Nevertheless, they, the management team, play an important role and shall be introduced here: 

Peter Schleifenbaum – Owner & Manager 

Born, raised and educated in Germany, Peter and his wife Elke came to Haliburton in 1988 to take on the management of their family’s company the following year. With a PhD in forest history and forest economics, Peter’s focus was the vast timber resources of the company, which had been neglected for decades. But the task and operation at hand was almost purely tourism related, which was a new experience for him. His lack of previous exposure to common tourism operations allowed him to think outside the box and venture into some of the innovative tourism products Haliburton Forest is known for today. But for over 20 years, he never lost sight of his true calling: the forest. Being patient and continuing to work the land, putting in place the foundations for a sound forestry venture, the greatest achievement of which was Haliburton Forest’s certification as Canada’s first sustainable forest under the international FSC standards in 1998, the opportunity arose in 2008. The forest industry was collapsing and mills were closing all over North America: a good opportunity for Haliburton Forest to build its own mill and with it, a number of value adding, wood-based, ventures.

Along this way, Peter and Haliburton Forest attracted a lot of attention, resulting in numerous commendations and awards. Today Peter is actively involved in all parts of his diverse business. But his heart remains with forestry in a very broad sense, expressed in his maintaining an adjunct professorship at University of Toronto’s Faculty of Forestry, which operates a very active research facility at Haliburton Forest.

Malcolm Cockwell – General Manager

Originally from Toronto, Malcolm holds a B.Sc. in Forestry from the University of Toronto and is a PhD Candidate at the same institution's Faculty of Forestry. Beginning in 2010, that was the basis for his initial involvement with Haliburton Forest, conducting silvicultural studies and product recovery research. Since then, Malcolm has worked as a Crown timber scaler at the sawmill, a forester in the bush, and now works closely with the Director, Peter Schleifenbaum, as the General Manager. In addition to his work at Haliburton Forest, Malcolm is a Registered Professional Forester, serves on the Board of Trustees of Forests Ontario, and represents Haliburton Forest at the Ontario Forest Industries Association. When Malcolm isn't working, he can usually be found stomping around in the forest, either by himself or with his wife.


Mike Thompson - Sawmill Manager

A native of Bancroft, Mike Thompson has been in the lumber business all of his life. He is a graduate of the National Hardwood Lumber Inspection Training school in Memphis, Tennessee, which today provides the professional basis for his day-today job. Mike joined Haliburton Forest in 2008 and brings his 30 years experience in the lumber and sawmilling industry to his new job, where he heads up the operation of the larger wood products operation, of which the sawmill is the core. As the manager of the sawmill, Mike oversees all operations, but is especially responsible for the sales and marketing of the mill’s various products. Among other tasks, he is responsible to ensure the strict adherence to standards set for Haliburton Forest’s wood products by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which has awarded Haliburton Forest one of very few “FSC Pure” certificates on this continent. When he is not at the sawmill, Mike can most likely be found somewhere in the forest, fishing with one or several of his children and grand-children.


Tegan Legge – Office Manager and Group Experience Coordinator

Tegan, born and raised just outside of Sudbury, Ontario, started at Haliburton Forest in 2009 as accounts payable for the sawmill, office administrator as well as program staff. She was first delivering programs and then later taking on the responsibility of coordinating educational and experiential programming at Haliburton Forest.

Tegan attended Cambrian College in Sudbury to complete a diploma program in Nature Based Adventure Tourism and later continued her education at Sir Sandford Fleming College, Haliburton, Ontario to complete the Ecotourism and Adventure Tourism Management post graduate program. She has always had a love for the outdoors: camping, canoeing, kayaking, teaching others about the world around them, and she can often be found talking about birds!

She is responsible for the varied administrative duties covered by the office staff, and virtually every guest and client to Haliburton Forest will have contact with the office, and by extension Tegan, at some point of time.

Tegan remains involved in the coordination of the programming activities at Haliburton Forest, and can be found from time to time guiding a dogsled or Canopy Tour and maybe even heading out on a 3 day hiking or canoeing trip with a school group.


Pavel Gmuzdek – Forestry Manager

Born and raised in the Czech-Republic, Pavel’s road to Haliburton Forest took him across the world, until he finally landed in 2006. His background is in environmental science, which is why he initially joined the Haliburton Forest team as an interpreter and guide. However, he soon found himself drawn to the operations, he was talking to the public about. His professional background, which extends well beyond the mere forest, made him a perfect candidate to take on the operational supervision and authority over forestry operations, which take into consideration more than the mere harvesting of fiber. Balancing on a daily basis the requirements of the business of the sawmill, the ecological needs of the forest – based on the stringent FSC standards - and the social constraints of the human aspect of forestry, Pavel has one of the more taxing assignments within Haliburton Forest’s operation. Here he masters the skills of patience, application of knowledge, exertion of authority and longterm planning on many levels perfectly. He is helped in his job by his love for the forest and the outdoors, where he can be found, even when he is not on the job. 


Elke Schleifenbaum

Frequently introduced as “Peter’s wife”, this highly inappropriate description should rather be “behind every great man there is a great woman“. Elke does not have a job description at Haliburton Forest and if there was one, it should be: book-keeper/ purchasing-manager/ animal keeper/ floater/ payroll officer/ office manager/ designer/ etc. in short, Elke is everywhere ! She has accompanied the growth of the company and stood by her husband with advice and ongoing support over more than 2 decades. She is taking an active part in the day-to-day operations of Haliburton Forest and had as much an impact on how things at Haliburton Forest look today as any of the other management team members. Her professional background is bookkeeping, which is one of her main functions at Haliburton Forest. But her heart is with animals, which is why she can often be found looking after the company’s sled-dogs, wolves, horses or Hershe, the moose, which owes its life to Elke’s compassion and tenacious commitment.