||1880 Nova Scotia Steel & Coal
Co., (Scotia) builds a steel plant at New
||1893 Scotia acquires the Wabana Iron Ore Mines
||1899 Henry Melville Whitney led consortium incorporates
Iron & Steel Co. (Disco).
||1900 Construction of the Scotia Steel Plant begins
at Sydney Mines, a
basic iron and steel producer, (coke ovens, blast furnace, and
open hearth), to supply the finishing mills at New Glasgow.
At the same time, construction of Disco begins at Sydney, also
a basic iron and steel producer. Eventually it will include
finishing operations consisting of a blooming mill, billet mill,
rail mill, rod mill, bar mill, wire mill, nail mill and plate
mill. Both plants will equally share the Wabana ore resource.
||1901 First steel produced at Sydney on December
||1902 First steel produced at Sydney Mines.
||1903 Strike at Disco with wages being the main
concern. Disco puts down strike action. This year was the beginning
of the boom and bust cycles that characterized the lifespan
of both steel plants.
||1912 Disco expands with the addition of another
blast furnace and two
500 ton mixer furnaces.
||The first part of the Great War (1914-1918) is
a boom time that sees both plants at maximum operation feeding
the war steel demands. Disco constructs a plate mill but the
end of the war reduces steel demands and the plate mill is mothballed.
||1920 British Empire Steel & Coal Co., (Besco)
purchases all assets of the Disco and Scotia operations.
||1921 Both plants are in a bust cycle and an undercapitalized
Besco closes the Sydney Mines Steel Plant. The Sydney operation
will supply the car and axle shops at New Glasgow. The Great
Depression strikes Cape Breton eight years before the rest of
the world and Besco struggles financially.
||1922 Hours and wages are cut resulting in violent
strikes and walk-outs. The Canadian Military had to be called
in to act as peacemakers. Workers were forced to work at gunpoint.
||1927 Besco collapses and goes into bankruptcy.
||Dominion Steel & Coal Corporation, (Dosco)
is formed. This is part of a large British conglomerate that
takes over all of Besco’s assets. Also, the federal government
grants Maritime freight rate subsidies.
||1931 The Mackie Retarded Coolant Process is implemented.
Dosco an advantage over other rail producers and allows the
Sydney Plant to produce the world’s finest rail. Dosco
holds the patent through the Mackie family. A completely integrated
hospital is opened on Dosco property. It consists of an outpatient
treatment unit with an inpatient ward and a modern operating
room. Doctors are on site along with a live-in nursing staff.
Time missed for medical reasons is drastically reduced. A side
benefit is a significant reduction in compensation payments.
||1938 Steelworkers are allowed to conduct a vote
on steel plant property for the first time. The result is the
formation of Local 1064, United Steelworkers of America.
||1939 The second half of The Great War (1939-1945)
leads to a boom period that lasts for the next 20 years. Women
are hired to replace steelworkers lost to military service.
|| The first contract is signed between the Union
and Company. #2
Open Hearth Shop begins operation with two 200 ton tilting furnaces
and will eventually expand to six furnaces.
||1941 German submarines sink four ships carrying
Dosco ore. Seventy
lives are lost.
Dosco purchases three surplus ships from the Federal Government
mainly to transport iron ore from Wabana to Sydney. These ships
operate for the next 22 years.
||1947 Strike. At this time Dosco negotiated as
part of the Big Three-
Stelco, Algoma, and Dosco. This strike marked the end of this
||1953 A new coke ovens battery goes into operation.
||1957 A.V. Roe Canada (Hawker Siddeley), takes
control of the plant.
over the next 10 years, the steel plant is sacked. Closures
include the wire mill, nail mill, rod mill, and bar mill.
||1966 New dock unloaders are constructed and they
proved to be very
efficient. This is the only positive thing Hawker Siddeley did.
||1967 Black Friday. Hawker Siddeley announces
the closure of the steel
plant. By now only 2780 are employed as opposed to 5200 ten
years earlier. A massive parade of concern by the community
convinces provincial government to take over the plant.
||1968 The steel plant becomes a crown corporation
and is now known as
The Sydney Steel Corporation, (Sysco).
||1969 Sysco produces over 1 million tons of steel
for the first time in
history. They also show a profit and the employees receive a
first and only time bonus.
||1970 A 92 million dollar modernization begins.
It includes a modern rail
finishing mill and a continuous caster.
||Strike. Wages are the main issue.
||Steel plant is back into a bust cycle. A steel
loader is constructed at
||1975 The continuous caster is commissioned.
||1980 The operation of the continuous caster is
||1981 Another modernization begins in two phases
and will total 92
million dollars. Phase one includes a new blast furnace.
||1982 Strike. Workers leave the job prematurely
not knowing the bad
shape Sysco is in. 3300 walk out. Only 1200 return.
||1987 Second phase of modernization begins. The
plant will become a
mini-mill with an electric arc furnace feeding a bloom caster
and a universal rolling mill.
||1988 Coke ovens closes.
||1989 Blast furnace and open hearth shut down.
||1990 Provincial Government writes off 785 million
dollars of debt. Say plant must show a profit to continue operating
and seek a buyer.
||1993 MinMetals of China agree to purchase steel
plant after operating it
as a joint venture with the Government for 3 years.
||Maximum employment is now only 600. Steel production
good but, 203 million more in debt accumulates.
||1996 MinMetals withdraws from its agreement with
||1997 Government seeks another buyer.
||2000 On May 22nd, the last steel is produced.
With no legitimate
purchaser for the plant, the Nova Scotia Government soon closes