Steeltown celebrates: 136 years since pouring of steel

Community Featured

TRENTON – A local industrial milestone was celebrated on Thursday with the rededication of the first pouring of steel ingots in Canada in July, 1883 in Trenton with the unveiling of a special plaque.

“This is an awesome way to start a great weekend in Trenton,” Mayor Shannon MacInnis said. He was referring to the annual Fun Fest that officially began later on Thursday with the Mayor’s Tea at the nearby railway station porch.

Deputy Mayor Don Hussher emceed the ceremony and noted how the new plaque represents another step in the town’s Main Street enhancement project that features actual or re-created steel-making items, an open air porch and various tree and shrubbery plantings to attract more businesses and residents.

“We wanted to make Trenton a welcoming place,” he said. “Today is one segment of that.”

Hussher shared a brief history of steel making in Trenton from 1872 when two blacksmiths — Forrest MacKay and Graham Fraser — formed a partnership called Hope Iron Works in New Glasgow. They moved their company in 1878 to what later became Trenton due to a lack of water in New Glasgow.

Successfully pouring the steel ingots led to a decision to make pig iron at the Trenton plant.

Pictou Centre MLA Pat Dunn helped to unveil the re dedication plaque.

“Today is of particular interest to me,” he said as he recalled his great-grandfather James Dunn, who lived on Chestnut Street and worked in steel making for 64 years until he retired at the age of 83. He was 96 when he passed away in 1960.

“This sense of history creates community pride,” he said.

Lawrence McKay, Atlantic representative for the United Steel Workers union, also attended the event.

“I’m humbled to be here,” he said as he traced labour history to when the union was formed in 1942 and when “it wasn’t legal to belong to a union and to have meetings.”

MacInnis read a proclamation on behalf of the town to officially dedicate the anniversary.

It proclaims “all lands within the vicinity of the former steel plant a Trenton Heritage Site where within these boundaries history was made in Canada by the first pouring of steel in July of 1883.”

From left: Const. Ken MacDonald watches as Pictou Centre MLA Pat Dunn removes the tartan cloth beside Mayor Shannon MacInnis and Deputy Mayor Don Hussher during an unveiling of a plaque to commemorate 136 years since the first pouring of steel ingots in Canada at a facility in Trenton. (Goodwin photo)