Haliburton Forest is unique in many ways, but the diversity of its operations stands out perhaps more than any other characteristic. While the company operates as a cohesive entity and all staff are encouraged to embrace the principle of “collegial assistance,” Haliburton Forest is really comprised of two divisions. The first division is Tourism & Recreation, which offers a plethora of activities ranging from dogsledding to hunting. The second division is Forest Products, which produces hardwood lumber, wood fibre products, split firewood, custom-built furniture, and canoeing paddles. These divisions complement each other in order to ensure that Haliburton Forest achieves its primary objective of being a world-leading sustainable, multi-use, private land stewardship company.
Tourism & Recreation
Tegan Legge – General Manager, Tourism & Recreation
Born and raised just outside of Sudbury, Tegan holds a diploma in Nature Based Adventure Tourism from Cambrian College and a certificate in Ecotourism and Adventure Tourism Management from Sir Sandford Fleming College. Tegan started at Haliburton Forest in April 2009 as an Outdoor Facilitator/Office Staff. Through the years, she has held numerous positions, finally settling in as General Manager (Tourism and Recreation) in April 2017. In addition to her work at Haliburton Forest, Tegan serves on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Highlands Tourism Organization (RTO11). On occasion, Tegan can be found guiding Dogsled and Canopy Tours or even heading out on overnight trips with groups. Tegan has always had a love for the outdoors and is often heard talking about birds.
Peter Cundall – Tourism Manager
Peter holds a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education Specializing in Adventure Tourism from Laurentian University. After working with Ontario Parks, Peter moved to Haliburton in 2010 and began guiding and facilitating programs with Haliburton Forest. In 2016, Peter took on the role of Tourism Manager. As Haliburton Forest maintains one of the most diverse tourism businesses in central Ontario, Peter’s top objective is to attract guests to all that our property has to offer. Whether in a canoe or on a snowmobile, Peter can often be found exploring the Canadian wilderness.
Cameron Ferguson – Operations Coordinator
Cameron relocated from Scotland to join the outdoor education team in 2008 as an Outdoor Facilitator and Forest Guide, and has become an integral part of the organization. An ISA Certified Arborist with a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Glasgow, Cameron has worked as an instructor on arborist programs at the college level in the UK and Ontario. In April 2017, Cameron took on the role of Operations Coordinator (Tourism & Recreation), overseeing many of the operational aspects of Haliburton Forest’s tourism and recreation business. When not immersed in the forest, Cameron spends his free time playing the highland bagpipes, fishing, and enjoying other outdoor pursuits.
Melissa Pockett – Leases Coordinator
Born and raised outside Peterborough, Melissa currently holds a diploma in Park Operations and Outdoor Recreation and a certificate in Ecotourism and Adventure Tourism Management, both from Sir Sandford Fleming College as well as a Bachelors of Arts with Honours in Environmental Studies from Trent University. Melissa’s love for the outdoors led her to Haliburton Forest in 2015 where she has taken on a larger role as our Lease and Land Use Coordinator. She gained much of her knowledge and experience through her employment as an Ontario Ranger and a Natural Heritage Educator with the MNR and as Administrative Coordinator with the Haliburton Highlands Outdoor Association. When she isn’t at the Forest, Melissa can be found camping and enjoying all that the Highlands has to offer.
Greg Stafford – General Manager, Forest Products
Greg has worked in the sawmilling industry for over 25 years, with experience in softwood processing facilities in Alberta and British Columbia. He graduated from Grant McEwan College and earned certificates from the Alberta Safety Council and Oregon State University. Greg has a strong background in quality control, safety, and operations management at a variety of facilities focusing on specialty products as well as commodity lumber. He joined Haliburton Forest in mid-2017 to bring a fresh perspective and energy to the Forest Products division of the company, with the goal of establishing it as one of the safest, cleanest, and most efficient hardwood processing facilities in Ontario.
Umar Ahmed - Retail Manager
Umar grew up in various places across the Middle East, but moved to Canada to study engineering at McGill University. After graduating in 2008, Umar went to work in the financial industry. But after seven years, he decided to look for something more rewarding. He started building furniture in his garage for friends, and as demand grew, he pursued woodworking full time. It was at this time, that he met a second generation refinisher and woodworker who took him on as his apprentice and trained him. Umar joined Haliburton Forest in July 2017 to lead the redevelopment and expansion of the Retail Forest Products business. He brings a hunger to grow the brand, service oriented focus, and passion for wood.
Pavel Gmuzdek – Logging Manager
Pavel’s road to Haliburton Forest began when he left his native Czechoslovakia following the fall of Communism. He eventually earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in social sciences and environmental leadership in the United States. After working in various parts of the United States and on international development projects in South America and Southeast Asia, Pavel landed in Canada in 2004. Initially joining the Haliburton Forest team as an interpreter and a guide – Pavel is highly familiar with the art and science of dogsledding – Pavel transitioned into the management of forestry operations in 2009. When he isn’t busy overseeing the logging operations, Pavel can be found exploring the remoter corners of Haliburton Forest with his son, friends, or newcomers to the property.
Thomas McCay – Forestry Manager
Thomas worked as a tree planting supervisor and fundraising manager before graduating from the Masters of Forest Conservation program at the University of Toronto in 2014. He joined Haliburton Forest in 2015, working as a logger before applying his education. After becoming a Managed Forest Plan Approver and Registered Professional Forester, Thomas was appointed Forestry Manager. Now, he conducts and supervises forest inventories, prescription setting, treemarking, post-harvest auditing, and research projects. He also writes related planning documents and ensures forest sustainability with the help of FSC. An examination of his bedside table might reveal "Forest Management Plan for the Minden Crown Unit: 1996-2001" or "A Critique of Silviculture: Managing for Complexity" alongside some books that normal people would read.
Malcolm Cockwell – Managing Director
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. After working closely with Peter Schleifenbaum for several years, Malcolm took responsibility for Haliburton Forest as the Managing Director in December 2016. In addition to his work at Haliburton Forest, Malcolm is a Registered Professional Forester, serves on the Board of Directors 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.
Elke Schleifenbaum – Controller & Bookkeeper
Elke has been a key member of the management team of Haliburton Forest for more than 20 years and her role at Haliburton Forest is perhaps the most varied, ranging from bookkeeper to animal keeper. However, when she has a quiet day, Elke is responsible for the financial functions of the company – a challenging task, considering the breadth of operations and diversity of staff! But Elke’s heart is with animals, which is why she can often be found looking after Haliburton Forest’s huskies, wolves, horses, or Hershe the Moose, who owes his life to Elke’s compassion and tenacious commitment.
Peter Schleifenbaum – Founder
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. Peter oversaw the development of these ventures and many others. Along the way, Peter and Haliburton Forest attracted a lot of attention, resulting in numerous commendations and awards.
Today Peter has retired from Haliburton Forest, 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.