DEVELOPMENT OF IRON DEPOSITS AND WORKS IN CANADA 1750-1910 WITH IMPACT ON EARLY RAILROADS, VICTORIA BRIDGE 1859, 1898 AND QUEBEC BRIDGE 1917

CIM Montreal 2011
Abstract While many Canadian iron works were initiated 1720-1910, only a few enjoyed prolonged existence because of poor bog ore, inadequate water power and inexperienced iron masters. The longest lived was the Forges St. Maurice (1720 -1883), Normandale, ON (1815-47) and the most productive Grantham (1880-1910, Drummondville QC supplying Montreal foundries). Unlike iron works in Britain, they did not rapidly convert to coke (after 1750) or adopt the puddling process for wrought iron (after 1780). When the Victoria Bridge required 9000 tons of wrought iron during 1856-59, Canadian capacity was only 500 tons per year, thus requiring import of finished plate from Britain. After 1865, Canadian iron works did not successfully evolve into steel mills by introduction of Bessemer or Siemens-Martin technology. After establishment about 1901, the steel mills in Sydney NS, Sault St.Marie and Hamilton ON were too late to supply C-steel when the Victoria Bridge was rebuilt (1898) as the steel truss seen today. The main products were rails, along with sheet and rod for fasteners and farm implements; they relied on ore from USA since Ontario ore became available only about 1940. The hot working procedures for wrought iron (where aligned fibrous impurities impeded crack growth) were transferred to steel in which pearlite colonies elongated in rolling reinforced rows of ferrite grains. In 1-2% Ni (0.2C steel), there was more, finer pearlite as the eutectoid point was shifted to lower temperature and C-content. These benefits from modification of iron are illustrated in the construction and continued operation of the Victoria Bridge (longest in the world in 1859) and the Quebec Bridge (still the longest cantilever span).
Keywords: iron ore 1750-1910, Wrought iron, Victoria bridge 1859/1898, Ni steel high strength, Quebec Bridge 1917, iron works, railways 1800-1910
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