Dundas Street construction in 1926

Dundas street construction

Pictured here in 1926 is a crushing operation during the construction of the Dundas Street, (# 5 Highway) through Nelson Township in Southern Ontario. 

James Franceschini immigrated to Canada in 1905 from Italy at age 15 and started working as a labourer on construction jobs.

In less than a decade, he had formed his own company Dufferin Construction Ltd., which is still a prominent name on many a construction jobsite. Steam drills, narrow gauge steam locomotives and steam shovels were utilized by Franceschini’s crews to drill, blast, load out and crush the rock removed to regrade Tuck’s Mountain, as it was known then to the locals.

The shot rock, loaded out by Erie steam shovels, was brought to the primary crusher in side-dump rail cars. A rotary screen fitted atop the steam powered plant sized the crushed rock, which was directed into hoppers below where a fleet of Mack dump trucks are seen hauling the crushed aggregate onto the new roadbed.

The war years of the 1940s were a bleak time for James Franceschini, by then, a wealthy contractor. He spent several years in a Second World War internment camp in Northern Ontario, as did many immigrants, unfortunately seen as potential “Enemy Aliens.” Undeterred by this and the sale of his confiscated properties he rebuilt Dufferin Construction, his reputation and his wealth, creating a lasting legacy.

The Historical Construction Equipment Association (HCEA Canada) 2023 event the Last Blast takes place October 14 at the Simcoe County Museum near Barrie, Ontario. To see more than 60 pieces of vintage construction equipment in action be sure to attend. HCEA Canada is a proud Heritage Partner of the Simcoe County Museum. Visit the HCEA Canada website at www.hceacanada.org for updates.