Local man recognized for innovation

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

George Charlebois of Wagner figures he’s the first person in western Canada to use drone technology to photograph cutblocks for forest products companies. It was new for them and new for him and far from certain he’d be able to make it fly. But a few years later, he has developed a track record, has some satisfied clients and has even received an award.

On Oct. 24 of this year, the Association of Alberta Forest Management Professionals gave its Professional Achievement Award to Charlebois, “in recognition of his contribution to the forestry profession in Alberta.”

What Charlebois does is take aerial photos of forestry cutblocks that used to be taken from airplanes. He says the pictures provide better data to the companies, which use them in their reports to the government. Charlebois says it was Tolko in Slave Lake that first took a chance on him.

“Word got around,” he says, and West Fraser was the next to give his method a try.

“It’s good news” Charlebois says of the award. “Thanks to Tolko and West Fraser for giving me the opportunity to do this. It’s innovative on their part.”

Joel Cornish of Northland Forest Products (and formerly of Tolko) was the one who nominated Charlebois for the award. Here’s part of what he had to say in the nomination: Charlebois “created a viable business out of nothing but a few thousand dollars, a good insurance program and an understanding wife. I believe that George is on the leading edge of this technology and is producing the most precise, clear and measurable aerial photography I have yet seen.”

Also cited in the nomination was Charlebois’ volunteerism on various committees of the professional association.

George Charlebois, with his camera-bearing drone hovering.

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