Port Hope – pretty town with an ugly past

I stopped in Port Hope to take a few images from the iron foot bridge over the Ganaraska River south of the library. Being the curious type that I am, I did a bit of research into the history of the area – I want you to enjoy the pictures first.

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Above, the Rotary Park foot bridge across the Ganaraska. Constructed in 1927, the bridge is a single span, riveted structural steel pony truss bridge with a timber deck.

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Above, looking downstream to Lake Ontario and the 1700 foot, 50′ high Canadian Pacific Railway viaduct that was constructed by the Hamilton Bridge Works in 1913.

Below, upstream toward the downtown area.

Port Hope,foot bridge,Lake Ontario,history,uranium,Ganaraska,history,Hamilton Bridge Works,Canadian Pacific Railway viaduct   

Port Hope is a Municipality of 17,500 people on the shore of Lake Ontario, less than an hour’s drive east of Toronto. It has been voted the Best Preserved Small Town in Canada for its downtown architectural heritage – sadly, it has an equally ugly past.

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Eldorado Mining and Refining Limited began processing uranium ore in Port Hope’s Harbour in 1932 to remove the minute amounts of radium it contained. Several thousand tons of uranium ore would be required to get a single gram of radium. The uranium ore was being mined at Port Radium in the North West Territories.

The radium industry used the same ore that is currently being used to process uranium oxide for fuel bundles for nuclear reactors. The waste from radium processing was dumped in the harbour and in Port Hope’s ravines. It was available free of charge to anyone who wanted it. Consequently, it was used as fill material under houses, roads and anywhere else they needed to fill a hole.

The Government of Canada continued to give away the radioactive waste material from uranium processing in Port Hope until the mid 1960s to anyone who wanted it. Sadly, this 20-year period coincided with the post war building boom in Canada. The radioactive waste was placed under hundreds of homes and public buildings in Port Hope and surrounding communities. The local school board was one of the main beneficiaries of this free building material. About a dozen schools were built and expanded in Port Hope, Cobourg and the surrounding towns during this period. Many of them are built on radioactive waste.

The Canadian Government finally stopped giving the radioactive waste to the public in Port Hope in 1966.

read more about the problem with radioactive waste in Port Hope



© 2012 CKB


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