Hamilton Blast Furnace Company

(1895) Stelco (now U.S. Steel Canada)

It is no coincidence that Stelco and International Harvester were located cheek-by-jowl on the city’s waterfront. A number of American plants were attracted by Hamilton’s ready supply of primary iron and steel.

Hamilton became Canada’s premier iron city during the 19th century. Until 1895, however, Hamilton’s metal shops had to import much of their iron from out of town. All of this changed when local foundry-men opened the Hamilton Blast Furnace Company (HBFC) on this site.

The company soon merged with a number of other local and regional businesses to become Canada’s largest supplier of primary iron and steel. In 1899, HBFC joined Ontario Rolling Mills at the foot of Queen Street North to become the Hamilton Iron and Steel Company. In 1910, this new company merged with locally owned Canada Screw and a number of other metal producers in Ontario and Montreal to form the giant Steel Company of Canada (Stelco). Local 1005 of United Steelworkers (USW) represents workers at the former Stelco Hilton Works, which is now owned by U.S. Steel Canada.

A major strike won by Stelco workers in 1946 helped set the basis for a national system of collective bargaining. The workers won union recognition, wage increases, a grievance system and other benefits. Their gains set a standard for Canadian workers for decades to come.