Sir James Dunn, a minor investor in the Algoma Steel Company, rose to the forefront of the troubled organization following his efforts in reorganizing company. As a result of various corporate machinations, Dunn acquired control of the company in 1935. He quickly turned his attention to the company’s ore supply.
The ore in question was siderite ore which has a high sulfur content resulting in difficulty with processing. Sir James had other ideas. He planned to reopen the Helen Mine, which contained vast quantities of siderite ore, and process them differently using new sintering methods. His efforts resulted in Sinterville, a small company townsite that was part of this much larger complex.
Dunn’s plans called for additional sites and resources. As they drew up plans to refurbish the Helen Mine, they also drew up plans for a new sinter plant in 1936. Construction began the following year. This included a convenient location on the Algoma Central Railway near the Wawa station. By 1939, the new sintering plant was ready in time for the mine’s reopening. Initially the plant was small and consisted of three small sintering machines with a daily maximum capacity of 1800 tons a day. The plant’s capacity increased steadily during the war years. By the end, daily output nearly doubled to 3,000 tons per day.
The town of Wawa grew quickly once the mine reopened. That quickly translated into new homes, schools and other public amenities along with revitalization of the business district. While the workers had plenty of new services to enjoy, the company had a requirement in place at the time for management and their families to live near the sinter plant. Algoma Ore quickly erected a small management townsite south of the plant, containing 23 homes, known as Sinterville. Although few services were available in the settlement, there was a hardware store and warehouse east of the sinter plant. At its height, Sinterville had almost 80 residents.
The community lasted until around 1962 when Algoma Ore decides they no longer wanted the townsite on their property. They sold many of the homes to the employees, who in turn moved them to Wawa. They demolished the remainder of the homes.
Sinterville lasted until mining activities ceased in 1997. That same year the sinter plant was closed and subsequently removed by 1998. Learn more