Fire Followup

Just a quick follow up to the massive fire that happened last week. This is the building that fronts Wyandotte St. with the apartments above. Looks like the residents were allowed back in to gather belongings. Hopefully the businesses and their owners on the main floor won’t lose their shirts with the long closure.

One thing that irks me, is the media reporting on this fire. Please look at a map. Wyandotte and Marentette is NOT on the EAST SIDE. Lately the media starts all reports by saying “A massive fire on Windsor’s east side…” This is downtown. The east side IMO is Pillette or Jefferson, heck I’d even accept Central as “East Side”. However this is about as much in the core of the city as you get. AM800, A Channel & The Windsor Star are all guilty of that.

End of an era

After 73 years of serivce, Albert Kahn’s massive foundry is permanently closed as part of “The Way Forward”. As if Windsor’s economy isn’t in the toilet enough, toss another 450 people on to the rolls of the unemployed.

The sure don’t build factories like this anymore.

Even a little brick would be nice :)

By the time I took this photo today, production had already ceased. A sad day for Windsor. Apparently there is supposed to be an “Open House” at the casting plant for the General Public this Sunday, June 3rd, does anyone have any details?

From the official Ford Press Release


* During the last 73 years, the Windsor Casting Plant has produced more than 50 million cylinder block castings and crankshafts for Ford engines.
* Windsor Casting Plant employees have demonstrated leadership in their dedication to quality, environmental stewardship and their commitment to the community.
* Ford is moving away from in-house casting operations due to the competitive realities of today’s auto industry and the need to focus on the core business.

WINDSOR, Ontario, May 29, 2007 – Production at the 73-year-old Windsor Casting Plant ended today as Ford Motor Company continues to transform its North American automotive operations into a profitable and sustainable business.

“It is a tribute to the employees at the Windsor Casting Plant that they have achieved outstanding productivity levels with consistently high quality throughout this year, right down to the last engine block produced,” said AdrianVido, Windsor site manager, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited. ” The company’s decision to move away from in-house casting operations is based on a thorough analysis of our business and a need to focus on our core operations. While difficult, these are the right actions for Ford’s future.”

The company also recently announced that it will end casting production at the Ford facility in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Windsor Casting Plant opened in 1934 and most recently employed 500 people. It produces cylinder block castings for 4.2-litre V6 engines and crankshafts for 4.2-litre V6, 5.4-litre V8, 3.0-litre V6, 4.6-litre V8 and 2.3-litre engines. The plant is also one of the largest recyclers of iron and steel in Southern Ontario. All the steel used in the cylinder blocks and crankshafts is recycled material.

“For decades, workers at the Windsor Casting Plant have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to quality workmanship and pride in a job well done. They leave the plant today with their heads held high,” said Mike Vince, president, Canadian Auto Workers Local 200.

Working with the CAW, Ford of Canada has offered financial assistance packages worth up to $100,000 to help employees in Windsor retire, or move their careers in new directions. The company has also partnered with the Ontario government to open an employment counseling and training centre specifically for Ford employees impacted by the restructuring. Programs and services for these workers include: job-search assistance, training information, vocational and educational counseling, personal support in dealing with the stress of job loss, financial counseling and information about starting a small business.

“A key priority is to help our employees, their families and the community through this difficult transition,” said Tom McWilliams, manufacturing manager and a 24-year Ford veteran, including 17 years at Windsor Casting. “It’s simply the right thing to do in a tough situation.”


* Opened November 9, 1934

* Size: 500,000 square feet (46,450 m 2) on 22-acre (nine-hectare) site

* Employees: 400 Hourly; 50 Salaried

* Current Products: Cylinder blocks – 4.2-litre V6

Crankshafts – 4.2-litre V6, 5.4-litre V8, 3.0-litre V6, 4.6-litre V8, 2.3-litre

* Production:
o 91,000 tonnes of molten metal poured/year
o Produces about 500,000 engine blocks/year
o Two million crankshafts produced each year for seven models, ranging from 22-pound to 38-pound crankshafts for everything from small inline four-cylinder engines to V-8s
o Largest recycler of iron and steel in Southern Ontario. All the steel used in cylinder blocks and crankshafts produced is recycled.

* Past Products: Cast iron cylinder heads, master cylinder for braking system, cylinder blocks and crankshafts

* Industry Awards:
o 1989 Windsor Casting Plant wins Ford’s Q-1 award for meeting the company’s highest quality standards audited by world headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.
o 1998 Windsor Casting Plant certified to the ISO 14001 environmental management standard.
o 1999 The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment awards Windsor Casting Plant its Pollution Prevention Award for Large Business for 1998.
o 1999 Windsor Casting Plant is the recipient of the 1999 Powertrain Division Most Improved Award for Safety Performance for Casting and Forging Operations.


1934 – Ground broken for new Foundry (Windsor Casting Plant).

1935 – Production at new Electric Furnace Foundry starts. First product is crankshafts.

1941 – Automotive casting work ceases to make parts for Universal and Windsor carriers produced for World War II.

1946 – Windsor Casting shifts back to civilian automotive production.

1970 – Name of plant changed from Windsor Iron Foundry to Windsor Casting Plant.

1970 – Waste water treatment plant opens at Windsor Casting.

1980 – Windsor Casting Plant shut down because of decreased demand.

1981 – Windsor Casting Plant reopened.

1989 – WCP wins Ford’s Q-1 award. Q-1 winners are rated by the plants they supply for product quality, delivery performance and service levels. The company’s highest standards must be met and a plant’s performance is audited by world headquarters in Dearborn before the award is given.

1998 – Windsor Casting Plant uses the scrap steel from the demolished Windsor Engine #1 in production of 175,000 cast iron cylinder blocks.

1998 – WCP receives ISO 14001 certification for having implemented the highest standards of environmental conservation and preservation for the manufacture of cast iron cylinder blocks and crankshafts.

1999 – The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment awards WCP its Pollution Prevention Award for Large Business for 1998.

1999 – WCP is the recipient of the 1999 Powertrain Division Most Improved Award for Safety Performance for Casting and Forging Operations.

2003 – Scrap steel from the old office building in Oakville is cut up and shipped to WCP for recycling. Scraps were melted down, purified and turned into crankshafts and engine blocks for V-6 engines.

2006 – Ford Motor Company announces its Way Forward plan to return its North American operations to profitability. The plan includes aligning customer demand with capacity, and Windsor Casting Plant is identified as one of nine manufacturing plants to be idled by 2008.

2007 – Windsor Casting Plant ceases production.

Demolition Delayed

Today’s post is for reader DouglasM (former local) who wondered from Washington State if I had any photos of the area of Sandwich where the proposed twin span enhancement of the current bridge was going to be. Doug, here you go…

One of the more interesting motions on last night’s Council Agenda was put off at the Bridge Company’s request. It was their motion to request exemption from the interim control by-law and the demolition control by-law put in place in old Sandwich, and to request permission to allow demolition of 686, 718, 738, 750, 778 & 784 Indian Street. To rear rear of these houses it is plain to see that Mr. Maroun and the Bridge Company are progressing full steam ahead with their plans to twin the bridge enhance the current structure. I am almost to the point where I am so fed up with the local pickering among various factions, that I am almost pulling for a twinned enhanced Ambassador Bridge.

Looking south from Wyandotte St. on Indian the gaps in the streetscape are readily apparent.

686 Indian, one of the victims.

718 Indian

738 Indian.

John, it looks like your grandparent’s old house has been spared in the next round.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought a trip to Indian Road yesterday was newsworthy based on the council agenda. Christy Bezaire of A Channel News was there.

750 Indian. I’m pretty sure this was Cock Paul’s house. (A supervisor I once worked with who earned his nickname).

784 Indian. I missed getting a shot of 778, but it looks similar to 784.

Around the corner on Mill St. there are some old stairs that now lead to nothing. This house too was a victim of the enhancement.

This apartment building at University & Indian was one of the final acquisitions in the Indian Road corridor for the Bridge company. They now own all the necessary land to “enhance” the current bridge.

If this doesn’t look like laying the ground work for twinning, I don’t know what is.

You tell me, what do you think? Also good to see former MP Susan Whelan is now a mouth piece for the Bridge Company. Looks like all the local Liberals certainly have only the best of intentions for the citizens of Windsor. With friends like these….

A copy of the document that went before City Council last night can be had by clicking here.

Downtown Windsor Early 1940’s

Three more vintage shots today from the Bernie Drouillard collection. The photo above is dated June 1941, and shows a street scene of Ouellette Ave. looking north from Wyandotte Street. Note the old streetcar tracks are still visible on Ouellette Ave.

This shot shows the same view a few years later. The bunting has been removed along with the “Victory Bonds” banner. Perhaps this is after WWII was over? Also note the Streetcar tracks are now gone.

Here is a view of Ouellette Ave. looking south from Riverside Drive. The long lost Norwich block is on the right, and Albert Kahn’s original Bank of Commerce is located to the left. I’m guessing the photo above was taken at the same time as the photo before this one. Again the tracks have been removed, and the asphalt looks relatively new. The last two photos were probably taken following the removal of the tracks for S.W.& A. records.

It’s kind of depressing to see how far downtown has fallen. Despite the spin by the DWBIA and the Mayor’s Office, there is really little reason to head downtown these days.

Signs of the past

Here are a few more oldies from the archives. The sign above hung on the Walker Boys appliance store on Wyandotte St. E between Lincoln & Winderemere. It was removed several years ago.

This one was found deep behind the long gone California’s. I’m not sure if this one is still there or not.

More Old Photos

Here are a few more oldies from John Stefani, via the Bernie Drouillard Collection. Bernie is the pre-eminent local transportation historian in the city of Windsor.

Mr. Patrick Sr., conductor, Erie Line. 1930’s

Car Number 361, London Street Car Barns, 1930’s.

Late 1930’s, in front of the Amerherstburg Echo building.

This photo from 1938, shows the new bus that replaced the street car above on the Windsor-Amherstburg route.

Car #405 on London Street, 1930’s.

The Floor Store – Then and Now

The picture above is from 1965, when this store on Tecumshed Rd. E, just east of Jefferson was known as Ajax Building Materials.

For some reason someone along the way covered over the front windows….

Oh well, at least they take both Master Charge and Chargex! 😉

I hope every one is having a safe and happy long weekend.