In 1989 the last iron was
produced at the blast furnace.

Today the making of steel
has not changed significantly
since the 1800's



In 2003, a multi-phase development of the Sydney Harbour Front was begun in conjunction with the increasing schedule of cruise ship visits to the port of Sydney. The first phase involved the establishment of an Interpretive Centre of the history and culture of Cape Breton. The local Tourist Information Bureau was also located on site and an Arts and Craft Centre was open on the days of ship visits.

The Sydney Steel Museum Society was asked to exhibit a display depicting some of the history of the 100 years of steel making in Sydney and its impact on the community. A fifteen-minute DVD was edited from film shot in the late 1940’s demonstrating the steel making process, which had not changed significantly since the first steel was made in 1901. The background of the display consisted of a 1907 mural of the Steel Plant with a few large postcard-type pictures on the perimeter.

A sample of our main product, a 10 foot steel rail with a locomotive wheel welded to it for dramatic effect, was mounted on a podium in front of the mural. At the center of the display was a sealed case containing some smaller products such as nails and wire. Also in the case was a product catalogue from 1950 showing the wide diversity of products. A number of one-of-a-kind items were also in the case, such as a sample of the last iron made at the blast furnace in 1989 and a pair of chrome bookends made from the last rail produced in 2000. Many tools unique to the Steel Industry were also displayed on the podium.

To the right of the display case was a mannequin dressed in the type of safety clothing worn in working with molten metal in 2000. This contrasted sharply with the safety garb, or lack of, worn by employees in the DVD presentation. To demonstrate the hazards of steel making, a pair of wooden shoes, which were worn on hot jobs to prevent a worker’s boots from going aflame, were displayed.

An estimated 40,000 visitors enjoyed the display, mostly whom were cruise ship passengers and crew. Many local people, including retired steel workers, came to see a large part of the history of Sydney. The Interpretive Centre followed the same daily schedule as the Tourist Information Bureau. When cruise ships were in, a retired steel worker was on hand to answer questions (and there were many) on the history of the Sydney Steel Plant.


The Sydney Steel Museum Society has placed an exhibit at the Swiss Chalet restaurant on Welton Street in Sydney that depicts 100 years of steel making at the Sydney plant. It is located in the foyer of the restaurant and is open during regular restaurant hours. A series of photographs by renowned photographer, Ray Martheleur, are displayed on the foyer walls.

    The photos on the one wall show the integrated steel system in use from 1901 to 1990. The other wall has photos depicting steel making with the mini-mill system from 1900 to the year 2000. On the far wall, an exhibit case contains many smaller artifacts from the century of steel making. Also prominently displayed on the walls are a number of tools unique to the steel industry. A photo showing the tool in operation accompanies each; these photos are self-explanatory, no captions are required. Another interesting item is a 1903 photograph of the entire steel plant. This photo was taken from the George Street side of Muggah’s Creek before the mountain of slag and tar pond existed.


Swiss Chalet Exhibit

Click photos to enlarge

Website designed by Carole Lee Boutilier
Pictures compliments of Ray Martheleur
Last updated February 1, 2006