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 In May 1910, land developer W.D. Flatt filed his Survey 453 to build the Brightside neighbourhood amid Hamilton’s busy industrial waterfront until its ultimate demise in 1968. In June 1910 various small companies amalgamated to form the Steel Company of Canada to become Canada’s largest producer of steel in the 20th century.  The fortunes and fate of the Brightside neighbourhood remained inextricably tied to those of the steel giant Stelco.  

Listen: A Stelco Career - Started at Blacksmith Shop. Click the play circle below.

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Speaker 1:    

I got a job there, in Stelco; they found out that I wasn’t 16.  

Speaker 2:    


Speaker 1:    

So, I  had to go work in the Container Shop. Firth Brothers.  

And then when I was 16 I went straight to Stelco.   

Speaker 3:    

To the Blacksmith Shop?  Or some place else?   

Speaker 1:    

Blacksmith, that’s where I worked.  

Speaker 3:    

But that’s where you finished, the Blacksmith Shop?    

Speaker 1:    

I started in the Blacksmith and finished in the Blacksmith.  

Speaker 4:    

How many years?   

Speaker 1:    

56 years.  

Listen: A Career At Stelco. Click the play circle below.

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Speaker 1:    

I started in the machine shop as an apprentice machinist.  

Okay, and the first day I was there they put me with a guy,  a Scotchman eh, and he says to me,   Ernie, tomorrow morning I want my teapot clean, you make sure you clean my teapot.   

So, the next morning I cleaned his teapot, and I got it all nice and clean, shiny, and he looks at me and says [in a Scottish brogue],  ya little bastard you ruined my pot.   Get the hell out of this.  

So, the foreman, he was laughing, and he says, come on with me Ernie.   

So that was my start and then when they built the Strip Mill, I was sent to the Strip Mill because every time they built there was a shop, and machine shop.  

I went there and then I went to the Cold Mill, and then from the Cold Mill I went up as a general foreman in the Rolling Mills.  

12-10, so they had five Mills there, eh. 

Listen: Work In The Early Days. Click the play circle below.

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Speaker 1:    

So, your dad must’ve worked there from the 20s, or even 1910 or something?   

Speaker 2:    

He was there in 1912.  

Speaker 1:    

1912, wow!   

Speaker 2:    


Speaker 1:    

That’s very early.   

Speaker 2:    

They worked off and on then, they would close the place and then back to work again.  

You know, work couple of months and off couple of months.  

It all depends on … you know, whatever work… 

Listen: Blacksmiths In The Family. Click the play circle below.

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Speaker 1:    

Where did your father work?   

Speaker 2:    


Speaker 1:    

He worked at Stelco too?  

Speaker 2:    

I worked in the Blacksmith Shop. He worked in the Blacksmith Shop.  

Speaker 1:    

Oh really?   

Speaker 2:    


So, I was an apprentice.  

When they give you a job to do, but you need a helper.  

Take that guy there.  

It was my father, I had to go to the __s. 


He says, like that.  Take that guy there.   

 I’m not kidding, ya know.  

16 or 17 years old, give him the __s.  

You know, hit harder!   

You know with a sledgehammer. 

Listen: Ernie At The Operations. Click the play circle below.

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Speaker 1:    

Johnny, when I went in the Open Hearth, the mechanical foreman at the open hearth never used the last six months.  

they got me because I was in the Mill site.  

I said, sure I’ll take the job.    

First day on the job, some guy walks in my office, sits down.  

I pretend I don’t see him, eh.  

 Oh, my God, who are you?   

And he says,  I’m the chief steward here.   

Okay, my name is  so and so.    

 Oh, okay, so and so.    

 Did you ask your foreman to leave the job?    

 No.  I said,  you get your f—ing a__ off that chair and go see your foreman and don’t do it again.   

That went through all…   

In my time we had all Sherman Avenue guys, Brightside guys.  

I had 12 Oilers, all are tagging, so that went right through everybody, eh.  

I had no more problems.   

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