Nov 16, 2012

Alberta Foundry & Machine Company

Unlike many of the locations I've photographed around Medicine Hat, Alberta, the foundry was one that I had no prior knowledge of before exploring local archives.  The Alberta Foundry & Machine Company began operating in 1911, and manufactured shells throughout World War I and even more so in World War II.

One of the interesting things I read about the Foundry was that after the First World War it was leased to the Canadian Farm Implement Co. and they began producing the 14-28 "Canadian" tractor.  I found an excerpt from a book on tractors of the model that was produced in Medicine Hat.

The image below demonstrates one of my first attempts at 'ghosting'. I've combined an archival shot of the Foundry with this picture I shot in 2012. It's a pretty cool effect showing a portion of the old structure and how the surroundings look today. Notice how the windows have all been covered now, for instance.

Alberta foundry tractor production ca. 1920

Alberta Foundry & Machine Company ca. 1940s

When the Second World War hit, the Alberta Foundry and Machine Company was again reverted to shell production.  By 1942 the Foundry had a record 150 employees, and by 1945 it had produced over 525,000 shells for the war effort.  After WWII ended though, the company fell into a slump.      

Shell production in WW2.

The Foundry was purchased in 1955 by T. McCavity & Sons, the faded paint of which can still be seen along the top of the brick facade today (with some of the old Alberta Foundry paint even showing through under that).  By 1959 the Foundry was back in full production with 49 employees and producing hydrants and other municipal castings. The company was purchased by Clow Canada in 1990, and is still in operation today.

The archival images I found show the evolution of the structure over the years.  A lot has surprisingly remained intact, like the faded paint marking the foundry and machine shop entrances.  Most of the windows have since been covered, and a neighbouring brick building appears to have been demolished, but the surrounding area isn't all that different.  It was a cool discovery for me, and even more interesting to find out that what was once the Alberta Foundry & Machine Company is still a working foundry to this day.

Shell production in WW2.

Alberta Foundry & Machine Company ca. 1940s

Alberta Foundry & Machine Company ca. 1920s

Alberta Foundry & Machine Company ca. 1915

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Luke - thank you so much for posting these! My grandfather worked most of his life at 'the foundry' making fire hydrants. I can still remember the metallic smell on his coveralls when he came home from work. Beautiful work.