Paper mill then and now: What a difference a century makesMonday, January 02, 2012 by: Rick McGee
The prospects for papermaking in Sault Ste. Marie looked far brighter 100 years ago than they do at present.
When 1912 began, a new paper mill was about to strengthen the community’s industrial resurgence as the town moved towards city status (achieved on April 12 of that year).
The new operation had begun to take shape in early 1911 with the formation of the Lake Superior Paper Company Limited.
It acquired the assets of the Sault Ste. Marie Pulp and Paper Company Limited, originally established in 1895 (mill in 1899 shown) by Francis H. Clergue.
Modern paper machines were installed in 1911 and by 1912 newsprint was being produced for the first time.
The Sault mill amalgamated with the Spanish River Pulp and Paper Company in 1917.
The Abitibi Power and Paper Company Ltd. (later Abitibi-Price) took over in 1928, to be succeeded by St. Marys Paper Inc. in 1984.
The 1911-1912 period stands out as a time of major progress on various fronts, besides the production of paper.
The Sault, Steelton and surrounding areas then had about 17,000 residents.
In 1912 the Algoma Steel Corporation formed through the amalgamation of several Lake Superior Corporation subsidiaries.
After its line reached Franz and the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1911, the Algoma Central Railway and Hudson Bay Railway undertook $500,000 in local upgrades and expansion.
Projects included construction of a station (completed in 1913) at the foot of Bruce Street and development of a yard in an area then known as Tagona.
Elsewhere, YMCA leaders bought property on March Street for a new $75,000 structure that would serve thousands of members for five-plus decades following completion in 1913.
And the Salvation Army announced it would build a new citadel (the building now houses Cliffe Printing) on March Street.
Wireless (meaning something very different than it does today) technology also made news a century ago.
Ottawa announced that the Sault would become part of the Great Lakes wireless telegraph system that allowed ship-to-shore communications.
Authorities chose a rural hilltop site for the Department of Naval Services installation to be operated by the Marconi Company.
Modern-day Wireless Avenue and Marconi Street draw their names from the wireless station, which was located in that area.
In its early days, River View Public School was often known, informally, as the “wireless school.”
Other significant projects at some stage of planning or development around the time the Sault became a city included a splendid new Cochrane Hardware Company building (at the northwest corner of Elgin and Queen streets), a Masonic Temple (Albert and Elgin), a new Orpheum Theatre on Queen Street and another theatre (eventually the Princess) on Gore Street.
In 1912 members of the Italian community established the Societa Italiana di Mutuo Soccorso Guglielma.
Around the same time, businessman John O’Boyle envisioned a new and thoroughly modern apartment building north of the Algonquin Hotel.
The Tara Apartments burned down in 1998, but the foundation remains.