Part 7: The Great War and Post-War Ontario

World War I saw the dramatic growth of Canada’s steel manufacturing, pulp and paper, shipbuilding, and nonferrous metals industries. Ontario was home to Canada’s major steel producers at the time; places like Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie became known as steel centres, not just in Canada but on a global scale. The Steel Company of Canada (later Stelco) was founded in Hamilton in 1910 with the consolidation of several small Canadian producers by Canadian business tycoon Max Aitken. In 1902, Algoma Steel (now Essar Steel Algoma) was founded in Sault Ste. Marie. Ontario companies like these used iron ore to produce steel, which was invaluable during World War I for use in artillery, tanks, protective gear, and so on. Both before and after World War I, Canada’s steel industry also produced the materials needed for railways, bridges, buildings, and a multitude of other infrastructure-related products.

By 1920, two years after the end of the war, manufacturing industries employed around 600,000 people across Canada, accounting for over 15 per cent of the total Canadian workforce. This manufacturing boom continued for the next decade. Ontario’s abundance of usable lumber and innumerable rivers (required to generate hydropower) set the stage to make it, along with the rest of Canada, the pulp and paper powerhouse of the world. The rise in demand for newspapers across the United States and Canada created subsequent demand for pulp and paper manufacturers. The New York Times, for example, bought up a large share of the paper mill in Kapuskasing, Ontario in the early 1920s. The major power player in Ontario was the Abitibi Power and Paper Company, which used provincially granted Crown Lands to create a massive paper mill in Iroquois Falls. By 1930, Canada was responsible for over 60 per cent of the global trade of pulp and paper.

Read part 8 of The History Of Ontario’s Manufacturing Industry here.



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