By Lucie Paquet, Senior Archivist
In 1900, Montréal was an industrialized city, with numerous industrial sites. One of the largest was the Dominion Bridge Company (R5607), which built bridge and road superstructures. Another firm, the Montreal Rolling Mills Co., converted iron and steel into many different construction materials. Each of this company’s workshops was specialized. The machinery in the factories was increasingly ingenious, powerful and fast. Blacksmith artisans had been replaced by salaried workers serving machines. Employing huge engines with hydraulic conveyor belts, these labourers worked the furnaces, moved the boilers, heated and poured the molten iron into the moulds, shaped the iron, hammered it, and cut it. They struggled in the machinery’s intense heat, smoke, noise, dust and gas.
The workers produced nails, screws, bolts, saws, axes, pipes, horseshoes, railway track and a variety of items for agriculture, transportation and construction.
Sales rose for the Montreal Rolling Mills Co., with consequences. The company’s growth affected how the workplace was organized, urban working conditions, and social relationships between employers and employees.