Skip to content

Memory Lane: Old Steelworkers Hall a community gathering spot

The structure, built by the Legion in the 40s and sold to USW in the 60s, was destroyed in a fire in 2008

For more than 40 years, the handsome Steelworkers Hall on Frood Road was a place where men and women came together for union solidarity and camaraderie.

The building was home to Steelworkers Local 6500 and Local 2020. In addition to union offices, it was a centre of union activities and social events.

Union members enjoyed beer, pickled eggs and conversation downstairs in the beer hall.

The Steelworkers Hall was also popular with the community at large as a venue for weddings, celebrations, banquets, gala events and trade shows.

A fire destroyed the building in the early morning hours of Sept. 19, 2008. The fire was reported at 2:12 a.m. and it burned for more than 24 hours. There was an estimated $11 million in damages.

Sudbury.com invites readers to submit their memories of the historic Steelworkers Hall. Send your stories to mgentili@sudbury.com or vgilhula@gmail.com.

The building at Frood and College was originally built as Sudbury's first Legion Hall.

W. E. Mason, the wealthy and influential owner of The Sudbury Star, donated land to the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League. The name was changed to Royal Canadian Legion in 1957.

The veteran organization raised $450,000 to build Memorial Hall to honour war dead from the First and Second World Wars.

Memorial Hall was designed by architect Louis Fabbro, who had a successful practice in Sudbury for more than 50 years.

The official opening took place Oct. 2, 1947.

The rooms were named after famous engagements such as Vimy Ridge (April 1917) and the Dieppe Raid (August 1942).

At its height of popularity in the 1950s, the Legion branch had more than 5,000 members.

Laurentian University held classes in the Legion hall prior to the construction of its campus in 1964.

Legion membership began to drop dramatically in the 1960s, and property taxes started increasing. The Sudbury branch was facing bankruptcy when they decided to sell the building to the Steelworkers for $232,000 in 1965.

Out of respect, the Steelworkers left the Legion’s memorial to fallen combatants in the lobby and kept the Vimy and Dieppe rooms.

Following a decade of strikes and labour problems known as the Raids, the United Steelworkers Union was certified in October 1962 as the bargaining agent for hourly-rated Inco employees. Local 6500 represented the 15,000 men and women who worked for the company at the time, and they needed a hall.

After the Steelworkers Hall went up in flames in 2008, the second-largest cash reward in Greater Sudbury's history was posted to try to catch the arsonist or arsonists. Two youths were later charged in connection with the blaze.

In 2012, the union opened a new hall on Brady Street.

Vicki Gilhula is a freelance writer.