Our History

A Brief History of Local 759

From our beginnings in 1954, when the Charter was signed with 21 members present, our local has grown substantially.  

By 1959, construction had begun on the ore dock where 65 men were employed, followed by an expansion at Great Lakes Paper which took 82 members.  By March of 1967 we had 266 members as well as a new hall at the Labour Centre.  In the following year we were all on strike.

During February of 1969 the pension plan was introduced and in 1970 our first apprentices were sent to school in Toronto.  

During 1974 a second expansion was underway at the Great Lakes Mill.  This started a trend as many major projects of expansion were begun at all the paper mills in our area, through to the mid 90’s.  The mining sector was also in full swing during this time with the Hemlo area.

Two power plants were constructed for Hydro 1978-80.  Work at paper mills continued.

From 2000 through 2003 we were involved in quite a few large projects, including two boiler houses – one in Thunder Bay and the other in Dryden.  

The new hospital (TBRH) provided jobs to many men in 2001 to 2002; Bowater sawmill in 2003, as well as a strand board mill in Kenora.

In 2004 and 2005, we saw continued maintenance and general work throughout the region in the mills, elevators and mines.

During 2006 to 2008, Ontario’s first diamond mine was constructed for DeBeers, approximately 500 miles north of Thunder Bay.  The Victor Project was located on the Attawapiskat River, 90km west of James Bay.  Ironworkers from around Ontario and across Canada were flown into this isolated camp, depending on weather, for a 21 & 7 schedule.  Despite the logistics of transporting men and material, this mine became operational one year from when the first column was stood, a strong testament to the union trades involved.

Most of our jurisdiction was quiet due to the global economy from the summer of 2008 until 2011.  During these years many men flocked to Saskatchewan and Alberta, as their work continued to escalate, mainly due to the potash and tar sands.

Mid 2010 Local 759 pulled out of one of its deepest slumps and swung into unprecedented man hours.

The two major projects that fueled this boom were the hydro dams on the Lower Mattagami River and a new gold mine at the Detour Lake site.  Travel cards, once again from throughout Ontario and Canada, assisted this local with providing union Ironworkers.

Although the remote camps provided Ironworkers with substantial incomes, these men endured many hours of travel, as well as various standards of accommodation, food and means of communication with their families.  

Lac Des Iles invested in a new head frame; Ontario Hydro also had a sizable project in Atikokan, converting the generating station to biomass fuel.  This job ran from late 2012 until the spring of 2014.

Rubicon Minerals, just outside of Red Lake, had two mill buildings constructed from the fall of 2012 to mid-2013.  

During the fall of 2013, local Ironworkers were involved in underground work at the Lac Des Iles Palladium Mine, a major step forward for the locals’ membership in procuring maintenance work in the mining sector.

While the regions mines became a major focus for future work, we still anticipate pellet plants, saw mills and institutional buildings to continue as a source of income for the membership.

The increase in man hours from recent years has allowed the union hall to expand, creating a new training facility and meeting hall.  Insuring the Ironworkers in Northwestern Ontario will continue to provide the safest, most skilled and productive tradesmen available.