By the 1940s, there was a shortage
of scrap and the company nearly came
face to face with the bottom of the pile
more than once. Of the scrap that was
available, copper residuals in the material
caused quality issues. The situation
presented challenges that would
spawn perhaps the company’s biggest
opportunity: virgin metal made from
coal, iron ore and limestone.
It was around 1947 that the game-
changing decision to add coke and iron
making capabilities was made, and
Dofasco was on tap to become Canada’s
fourth integrated steelmaker.
Plans were put in motion, but the job
required what was at the time called
the “wizardry of engineering” to reclaim
land that extended several hundred
feet out in Hamilton’s bay water. As the
Illustrated News reported in 1950, “a
body of water, 600 feet by 800 feet,
was isolated by building dikes, the water
was pumped out and there, on the bed
of the bay, construction work began.
What a few months ago was part of
Hamilton Bay is dry land, teeming with
men and machines.”
The project came with a price tag of
more than $15 million and included the
dock yard, ore bridge, furnace
and coke plant.
No. 1 Coke Plant was lit in the spring of
while No. 1 Blast Furnace was lit
on company president C.W. Sherman’s
birthday, August 23rd, 1951.
The hot metal was primarily used in the
open hearth furnaces, while trials were
also conducted at the large Electric
Arc Furnace with up to 70% hot metal.
Sinter had to be used as an oxidizer as
tonnage oxygen was not yet available.
However, this routing of the hot metal
and unavailable oxygen was temporary,
as the company was also on the verge
of changing the face of steelmaking
with North America’s first Oxygen
Steelmaking plant in 1954.
This cartoon is typical of those run in the Illustrated
News throughout the 1950s and 60s. They were
entertaining and informative at the same time.
Turning up the heat