Francis H. Clergue
Steel · Acier · Manidoo-biiwaabik
Do you see the stone and wood Block House? Although he owned a mansion at the top of Moffley Hill, Francis H. Clergue preferred spending time in this small building. Clergue didn’t stay in the Sault for long but his legacy remains noticeable in our City. So who was he?
Francis H. Clergue – the “wizard of the north” – was an American businessman who lived during the 1800s and 1900s. This was a time of dramatic change as the fur trade was disappearing. Like many other small villages, Sault Ste. Marie struggled to adapt. Clergue came to the Sault in 1894 and tried to industrialize the area by generating power from the St. Marys River. When industries did not arrive to purchase his electricity, Clergue built them himself. In a few short years he created the steel plant (now Essar Steel), built the Canadian lock, and constructed the largest pulp and paper mill in the world at the time!
While these ventures brought new prosperity to the region, Clergue’s “wizardry” would not last long. By 1903 he had run out of money and he left the City shortly afterwards. Over the years, however, many of Clergue’s buildings have become landmarks of Sault Ste. Marie, including Mill Square and the Block House. Can you think of other ways that Clergue has impacted the Sault and area?
Test your knowledge
Question 1In what year did Francis H. Clergue build the second storey of the Block House?
Question 2How old is the stone portion of the Block House (as of 2015)?
Question 3When did the paper mill open?
Question 4When was steel first produced in Sault Ste. Marie?
You did great!
Think about it…
How do you think the Block House was moved from the rapids to its current location?