Historic Sites of Manitoba: Canada Cement Plant (McGillivray Boulevard, Winnipeg)
In 1911, the new Canada Cement Company, formed from the amalgamation of ten smaller companies, began construction of a manufacturing plant at this site in south Winnipeg. Its purpose was to use materials quarried at sites around Manitoba to make Portland cement. The site was chosen due to large deposits of suitable clay immediately west of the plant that were quarried over time, forming five large pits up to 60 feet deep. Other cement ingredients were quarried elsewhere in Manitoba and transported to the plant. High-calcium limestone was quarried at Steep Rock and a smaller quarry at Lily Bay (used between 1971 to 1974). Silica sand came from a quarry at Beausejour operated by the Alsip Brick, Tile and Lumber Company. Gypsum came from a quarry at Gypsumville (in the Interlake), underground mines at Amaranth (west side of Lake Manitoba) or Silver Plains (south of Winnipeg), or a quarry at Harcus (on the west side of Lake Manitoba). Iron oxide came from Ontario.
The cement plant, which employed 85 to 100 people at its height, became operational in 1913. Retrofitted between 1927 and 1928 to use a different manufacturing process, the plant consisted of two 287-foot, gas-fueled kilns, each ten feet in diameter to fire the ingredients at temperatures up to 2900 °F (1600 °C). In 1955, the plant was expanded to permit the construction of two 450-foot tall, twelve-foot diameter kilns, the first that year and the second in 1964. Between 1957 and 1972, the facility produced an annual average of 445,000 tons of finished cement, which typically consisted of 74.8% limestone and gypsum, 20% clay, 4.6% sand, and 0.6% iron oxide.
In May 1970, the company became Canada Cement Lafarge Limited after it was purchased by a French cement firm. Over time, the spent quarries filled with water to become lakes now forming part of FortWhyte Alive. From 1965 to 1992, output from the active clay quarry was also sold to Inland Cement for the production of cement at its nearby plant. In 1987, the cement plant closed and quarrying of local clay ceased. The site is now used as a transport distribution hub.
“High-calcium limestone deposits of Manitoba” by B. B. Bannatyne, Manitoba Department of Mines, Resources and Environmental Management, Publication 75-1, 1975.
“Industrial minerals in Manitoba” by James D. Bamburak, Geological Services Branch, Manitoba Energy and Mines, 29 September 1998.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough and James Bamburak.
Page revised: 9 September 2017
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