Francis H Clergue was an industrial opportunist who saw the potential in location and resources. He started a brief career in law but stopped to pursue his wild dreams of business and opportunities. At the turn of the 20th Century, US businessmen were looking for investments in power production and industry in Canada. Clergue sold the idea of Sault Ste. Marie as the perfect location for development to a group of investors. He believed in the principle of correlation, the grouping of related industries around one power source.
He felt that the location of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario was the perfect place to test this theory. Once he was financially backed, he began work on a hydroelectric dam that would provide abundant power at a very low price. Soon after the dam was completed, the shipping canal was built in 1895. With the infrastructure in place, Clergue constructed a paper mill which eventually became St Mary’s Paper. At the height of his success, his ventures employed 7000 people. Unfortunately by 1903, the mismanagement of his companies forced him to move on but the businesses he founded continued under new management.
In 2014, The Machine Shop acquired temporary permits to start construction and renovations to its 38,000 sq. ft. building. Utilizing local contractors, engineers and architectural firms, the building was restored to its original state. In January of 2015, the Algoma University Fine Arts program relocated to a portion of the restored building that originally housed The Machine Shop’s carpenter workshop and trades area. The building now hosts the EDC Incubator, which occupies the sandwich floor and old engineering office area. This phase of restoration was completed in March of 2016.
The venue now boasts over 10,000 square feet of assembly space and is suited for a variety of functions. The addition of a commercial kitchen, instruction area, rehearsal and meeting spaces and a 100 seat restaurant - The Mill Steakhouse + Wine Bar, make it one of the most vibrant spaces in Northern Ontario.
This is the second historically significant building that has been restored on the site, the first being the new home of the Algoma Conservatory of Music, located in Francis H. Clergue’s historical 1895 North American Headquarters.