2014. Howie Long, at age 66, revisits the former steel plant property with his grandson. He, like many former steel workers, needs a minute to remember the original layout of the steel plant site amidst the drastic transformation. This section of the remediated site, renamed as Open Hearth Park, is now the home of green grass, playgrounds and sports fields. Howie Long of Sydney, the son of a steel worker, left school with a Grade 10 education in 1977 and was hired at the steel plant in 1978. Many steel workers share similar stories of leaving school to work at the plant.
Long recalls his time on the open hearth, the blast furnace and the coke ovens as hard work, but something he enjoyed. The unimaginable heat still fresh in his memory, he jokes about true stories of hard hats melting and clothes starting to smoke — a less than subtle reminder that you're getting too close to the heat.
In 1998, Howie completed a Grade 12 equivalency as part of a package being offered to steelworkers ahead of the plant's inevitable closure in 2001.
He finished three years shy of qualifying for a full pension when the plant closed, and remained on through the final demolition. © Steve Wadden