CLSAB and Lumber Grading Quality


The Canadian Lumber Standards Accreditation Board (CLSAB) is a federally registered non-profit organization responsible for ensuring that “Canadian Standard Lumber” is accurately graded and identified in accordance with CSA-O141 Softwood Lumber as required by the National Building Code of Canada.  In addition, the CLSAB provides oversight in the delivery of specific Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Forestry Directives.

Lumber Grading

In the late 1950’s Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and The United States Federal Housing Authority (USFHA) determined that lumber should be grade marked under a nationally organized system.  The purpose of the system was to protect home buyers by providing a further assurance of quality in the homes constructed under CMHC and USFHA requirements.

To address the CMHC and USFHA requirement the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) formed a Committee of Standards for Yard Lumber.  The Committee met five (5) times between early 1959 and April 20, 1960 to develop the CSA Specification “O-141-1959 Yard Lumber”.  The result was a national standard for the grading of softwood lumber in house construction.  On May 19, 1960 the CSA created a lumber grade marking division within CSA known as the Canadian Lumber Standards Committee and appointed an Administrative Board retroactive to January 1, 1960.

Chair and Secretary of the Committee were Colonel J.H. Jenkins and Captain J.A. Doyle, respectively.  Colonel Jenkins was a CSA director and Chief of the Forest Products Laboratory, Canadian Forest Service.  Captain Doyle worked at the Canadian Forest Service for Colonel Jenkins.  The Forest Products Laboratory was responsible for maintaining and developing design values for Canadian lumber.

The CLS Committee operated until October 1962 before being replaced by the Canadian Lumber Standards Administration Board.  This structure was maintained until February 19, 1982 when the Canadian Lumber Standards Administration Board was reorganized to form the Canadian Lumber Standards Accreditation Board as a federally incorporated no-share non-profit corporation under Part II of the Canadian Business Corporations Act.   Part II provides for the incorporation of organizations for the purpose of carrying on, without pecuniary gain to its Members, purposes to which the Parliament of Canada extends legislative authority, which are among other things, scientific, professional or the like objects.

The CLSAB has four main roles:

  1. control the identification and certification of lumber
  2. accredit and supervise lumber grading agencies
  3. review and approve grading rules and product standards related to grading agencies
  4. promote acceptance of the Canadian lumber grading system in foreign markets

The CLSAB is overseen by a Board of Directors carefully chosen to provide a balance of lumber producers, lumber users, standards bodies, research organizations, financial institutions, and government.

The work of the CLSAB is recognized and relied upon by government and standards agencies in Canada and overseas, and referenced in the National and Provincial Building Codes across Canada.

Lumber grading in Canada is an all-encompassing system which includes:

  • training and supervision of graders
  • consensus-based grading rules, product standards and regulations
  • contract responsibilities
  • review of mill grading and operations by CLSAB Accredited Agencies
  • review of agencies’ performance by CLSAB

CFIA Forestry Directives

The CFIA and CLSAB entered into an Agreement for the delivery of specific CFIA Forestry Directives.  The CFIA-CLSAB Agreement recognizes CLSAB in a supervisory role for CLSAB Accredited Agencies and CLSAB Approved Facilities as it reduces the costs of supervision of phytosanitary and non-phytosanitary standards by merging the traditional functions of industrial supervision with those normally performed by CFIA.  CFIA approves the CLSAB’s Operating Plan for the delivery of the CFIA Forestry Directives on the basis that it specifies a level of oversight of CLSAB Accredited Agencies and CLSAB Approved Facilities consistent with CFIA’s oversight of similar organizations.

The responsibilities of CLSAB under the Agreement are carried out in conformance with all applicable federal or provincial law, including the Plant Protection Act and its regulations and the Relevant Policy Directives.