Located at the foot of Kenilworth Avenue, National Steel Car (NSC) is Canada’s largest manufacturer of railway cars. In 1912, a number of local businessmen formed the Imperial Car Company and announced plans to build a massive factory at Coote’s Paradise (now an outstanding nature sanctuary) in Hamilton’s West End. Luckily, a last-minute land deal relocated the proposed plant to this site. The company began production late that year under the name National Steel Car Company Ltd.
Railway car manufacture has always been the primary business of this company. At first, workers at NSC produced wooden boxcars, branching out into passenger cars soon after. During both world wars, the plant’s highly skilled workforce switched to the production of shells, artillery wagons, gun mounts, army truck bodies, field kitchens and other military items. Its peacetime product line included motor trucks, buses and bus bodies, streetcars, automobile chassis and motorboats. National Steel Car was purchased by Dofasco in 1962.
National Steel Car employed a lot of transient workers. They would hire them when they had orders for cars and shut down afterward. The Steelworkers spent months organizing this plant. We were down at the gates at five in the morning in the winter handing out leaflets. It was hard, but much to my surprise we got in.
– Ken O’Neill, retired steelworker