Canada’s backbone: 10 steel companies forging the nation
The history of Canadian steel goes back more than a century to the days of blacksmithing.
LMS Reinforcing Steel Group workers place rebar. – LMS
From essential infrastructure like bridges to the pipes that serve the energy sector, steel is a critical component of the economy. Many of the steel companies in Canada come from humble roots, often just a handful of people, a welding machine and a truck. Some have grown into international giants that are tackling some of the most complex projects in the world. Here are just a handful of those companies with compelling backstories.
Algoma Steel was forged in 1901 with two small blast furnaces, a 60-ton Bessemer furnace, a 23- inch bloom rolling mill and rail mill. It has since grown into a fully integrated steel producer based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. The company manufactures and sells hot and cold rolled steel products including sheet and plate. The company is currently constructing two new state-of-the-art electric-arc-furnaces to replace its existing blast furnace and basic oxygen steelmaking operations. It’s the biggest construction project in Sault Ste. Marie history. The change is expected to reduce Algoma’s carbon emissions by 70%.
Canam Steel Works Inc. was founded in St. Gédéon de Beauce, Que. in 1960. Despite a series of devastating fires, the company persisted. The company says it has been involved in more than 300,000 Construction projects in North America. They are also embracing technology. The group recently won an award for its Building Engineering Platform (BEP) which aims to modernize, update or replace some in-house engineering and detailing applications for Canam’s steel products.
Solid Rock Steel Fabricating Co. Ltd.
Solid Rock is a classic immigrant success story. Berend Steunenberg learned the metal fabricating trade while growing up in Holland and and took his skills to Vancouver in the 1950s. He worked day and night shifts at two jobs to buy an old flat deck truck, a second-hand welding machine and a torch set-up to start Solid Rock Steel. Now the company is helping tackle large, complex projects like The Butterfly, the Surrey Central Library and Microsoft’s Vancouver headquarters.
Originally called the Steel Company of Canada, Stelco was created in 1910 via the merger of Montreal Rolling Mills, the Hamilton Steel and Iron Company, and a handful of secondary companies located from Gananoque to Brantford. The company shifted its production during WW1 and WW2 to help with the war effort. Today it serves the construction, automotive, energy, appliance, and pipe and tube industries.
LMS Reinforcing Steel Group
Started in the 1980s with one pickup truck and a crew of 14 ironworkers, LMS Reinforcing Steel Group is one of the biggest independent fabricators and installers of reinforcing steel B.C. The company specializes in residential towers, complex commercial developments, sports facilities and infrastructure in the transportation, energy, oil and gas sectors. Their project resume is iconic: the Golden Ears Bridge, the Sea-to-Sky Highway project, the Vancouver Convention Centre, Ruskin Dam, BC Place and more.
Founded in 1956, Walters Group is a family-owned steel construction company that designs, fabricates, and constructs commercial and industrial projects throughout North America. An iconic Hamilton Ont. business, one of Walters’ first big jobs was with Dutch marine contractor Boskalis as they dredged Hamilton Harbor. Since then it has grown in size and now performs work for major projects like the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Brookfield Place and the Burgoyne Bridge.
Three Nicolajsen brothers joined forces in 1978 to start Sperling. The private family-owned business began as a small welding repair shop and has since turned into a full-service provider that offers design, engineering, fabrication and installation. The company started with smaller projects in Manitoba, moving into Western Canada, and eventually engaging in work overseas.
Now a somewhat familiar tale on this list, Supreme began in 1972 as a modest steel erector business with prairie couple John and Sally Leder’s single welding truck. Through acquisitions and investing in technology, the company has grown beyond Western Canada and expanded across North America. Some of its major projects include the Rainier Tower in Seattle, the Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver and the Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories.
Capitol began as a one man, welding operation and has grown into a highly specialized, structural steel fabricator and erector for some of the largest and most demanding projects in the public infrastructure, commercial construction and heavy industrial sectors. Some of Capitol’s projects include the Walterdale Bridge, the Remai Art Gallery, the Grand Valley Bridge Cofferdam and Manitoba Hydro Place.
George Third & Son
Burnaby, B.C.-based George Third & Son was founded in 1910 as a blacksmith shop. Over the past 110 years the blacksmith shop has been upgraded to 55,000 square-foot steel fabrication shop. GTS has a gained a reputation for combining various materials – most notably timber – with structural steel. Its services include design, engineering, welding, cutting, steel forming, machining, custom fabrication, and managing the installation process.