Etienne Brule arrives in the Sault. This initiates contact between Indigenous peoples in Sault Ste. Marie and European newcomers. Over the years, this will result in the introduction of new clothes, objects, foods, diseases, social practices, religions and languages, as well as the displacement of Indigenous communities and repurposing of the land. The French refer to the Indigenous communities and repurposing of the land. The French refer to the Indigenous peoples living in this area as “Saulteurs,” or “People of the Falls.”
A trading post is established by the Northwest Company. The site consisted of Chief Factor’s house, a powder magazine, a barrack and storage houses for furs bound for Montreal.
The first canal connecting lakes Superior and Huron is completed. A replica of this “bateau lock” is currently located north of the Algoma Conservatory of Music building.
On the south side of the lock, a water-power sawmill with two saws was constructed. Government records show that 14 men were employed directly by the Northwest Company that year.
During the war of 1812, an armed force of 150 United States soldiers attacked Sault Ste. Marie, destroying all buildings and structures, including the locks. A particularly serious loss was the destruction of the sawmill, the only one in the entire North West.
The Northwest Company constructs the lower stone story of the Blockhouse for use as powder magazine. In 1895, Francis H. Clergue adds the second story in order to convert it from a powder magazine to living accommodations. It is currently the second oldest stone building northwest of Toronto.
Francis H. Clergue arrives in the Sault by steamship. He establishes the Lake Superior Power Company and the Sault Ste. Marie Pulp and Paper Company Limited. He adds a wooden upper story to the old North West Company blockhouse and spends the majority of his time there.
Sault Ste. Marie Pulp & Paper Company incorporated as subsidiary of the Lake Superior Power Company as a condition of a timber grant obtained by Clergue in 1894; grounded pulp mill built a special “dry” pulp machinery invented and installed; machinery produced by Algoma Iron Works, a branch of the pulp and paper company.
Intimidated by the potential competition offered by the Sault mill, Clergue’s competitors cut their prices by 25% in an attempt to force him out of business. Clergue fought back by producing a superior product: pulp with reduced water content. Clergue and his engineering department developed a machine to extract much of the water content making it lighter and less costly to ship. When none of the existing paper machine manufactures would produce the machinery to his specifications, he erected his own machine shop and foundry to create the machines he needed. These two operations produced all of the machinery used in the pulp mill.
The Pulp Company was forced to close its doors following the collapse of the Clergue industrial empire in September of 1903. It remained close for a number of months and in receivership until 1905. Following restructuring of the Clergue industries in 1904, the Allied Companies become part of a new parent company, The Lake Superior Corporation. In 1911 the Lake Superior corporation decided to concentrate on its iron, steel and transportation activities and took steps to dispose of its holdings in other areas including the Sault Ste. Marie Pulp and Paper Company. In February 1911, a new company was formed, the Lake Superior Paper Company Ltd. The Lake Superior Paper Company began construction of the area’s first newsprint paper machines in 1911. By the following summer PM1 and PM2 were commissioned. By the end of 1913, PM3 and PM4 were also operational.
In 1917, the Lake Superior Paper Company amalgamated with the Spanish River Pulp & Paper Mills. They operated the mill until the Abitibi Power and Paper Company purchased it in 1928. Abitibi introduced the production of directory and catalog specialty papers, along with newsprint. In the following half century, the mill solidified its position as a major paper producer in Canada.
In 1984, a change in ownership and product occurred. Dan Alexander, and American investor purchased the mill from Abitibi renaming it St. Mary’s Paper Inc. Modifications to PM3 and PM4 and the installation of two Supercalenders made the production of SCB grades possible. In 1988, the construction of a new paper machine, PM5 was completed, giving the mill the capacity of producing SCA grades. In addition, new Tampella grinders were also installed to meet the increase demand for pulp.
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