The First Canam Joist Was Fabricated 60 Years Ago

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On May 5, 1961, exactly 60 years ago, the first Canam joist was fabricated at the St. Gédéon-de-Beauce plant. Today, fabrication has evolved, but let’s go back to 1961 to learn more about the plant at that time.

Working conditions
In 1961, about ten seasonal employees worked at the plant. During the first six months, they produced on average 50% of the time. It was not until 1962 that they worked full weeks, and by 1963, Canam already had about 30 employees.

“Working conditions at the time were difficult,” said Marcel Dutil, Chairman of the Board. “The plant was not heated and from November to April, visibility inside the plant did not exceed 50 feet. In addition to the welding smoke, we burned cardboard boxes in barrels to keep warm.”

Manufacturing
The first short span joists fabricated by Canam were destined for the Boston area. The webs were made of round steel and were rod welded. The joists at that time were two to three times heavier than today for a similar capacity and length. 

Canam joists are used in the construction of shopping centres, hotels and schools, among other projects, and the team works on a maximum of 150 projects per year. Today, between 3,000 and 4,000 projects are manufactured annually by Canam. The production of a joist requires up to 8 man-hours. The average weekly production was 25 tons and nowadays, we manufacture up to 1,400 tons weekly.

Some aspects of manufacturing have not changed as much. If we think of painting, it was already done by dipping, except that the colour used, asphalt black, included tar in its composition. Just as today, our colleagues in 1961 used overhead cranes to handle the material.

“When you started here in 1961, you can’t believe what you see today. If Canam is where it is today, it is because our people in St. Gédéon, our roots, have allowed us to grow everywhere. The women and men who work in our plants are our most precious asset because they make the difference. Thank you very much!” adds Mr. Dutil in conclusion.

Production of joists in 1961 at the St. Gédéon plant
Production of joists in 1961 at the St. Gédéon plant
Loading a trailer in the early days of fabrication
Loading a trailer in the early days of fabrication
Aerial view in 1961
Aerial view in 1961