A drawing of the 18th century describing two workers in the room facing the Blast furnace (tap hall) tracing a drill (mould for the liquid cast iron) on the sandy floor while two others carry a slim but long log of pig iron with the help of two pieces of wood. We see two workers in the room facing the Blast furnace tracing a drill on the sandy floor while two others carry a slim but long log of pig iron with the help of two pieces of wood.
© Diderot et d'Alembert, Encyclopédie[&], Recueil de planches / Briasson, David, Le Breton / 1765

In 1736, the French ironmasters introduced a technology into Canada which had been tried and tested for more than 200 years, and which had been widely adopted in Europe. It was the indirect ore reduction process, which first produced cast iron, followed by bar iron. This two-phase technology required the skills of founders and moulders at the blast furnace as well as a number of brawny forgemen in the forges.


The art of casting
A drawing of 18th century showing two workers pouring liquid cast iron in a sandmould inside a wooden box. Another one takes liquid cast iron out directly from the furnace and three other workers pouring liquid cast iron in an underground mould. We can see two workers pouring liquid cast iron in a mould inside a wooden box. Another one takes liquid cast iron out directly from the furnace and three other workers pouring liquid cast iron in an underground mould.
© Diderot and d'Alembert, Encyclopédie / Briasson, David, Le Breton / 1765

Adjacent to the blast furnace was the casting house, where a group of skilled workers, called moulders, went about their tasks. In their time, moulders were considered to be genuine artists, and the success of the company very much depended on them.

These workers first fabricated the models that were used to reproduce all the objects eventually cast in the sand. They then set up the moulds and cast a series of products that were highly valued on account of their exceptional resistance and fine craftsmanship.

Moreover, the company made a point of informing its customers that:

"[...] Owing to the skilled, experienced workers he (Mathew Bell, lessee) selected during his travels to England, the beauty of the work has been greatly increased, particularly the hollow ware, which, for its lightness and elegance, is the equal of similar articles manufactured in Great Britain."

Quebec Gazette, January 27, 1820.


The art of ironworking
A drawing of the 18th century representing a worker inserting an iron bar in the fireplace of the forge , another one hammering an iron block on the big anvil in order to make iron bars while an helper starts up the lever to control the rhythm of the hydraulic hammer. We can see a worker inserting an iron bar in the fireplace of the forge, an other one placing an iron block on the big anvil in order to make iron bars and an other one starting up the lever to control the rhythm of the hydraulic hammer.
© Diderot and d'Alembert, Encyclopédie / Briasson, David, Le Breton / 1765

At the blast furnace, the founders produced huge iron ingots called "pigs". These ingots or pigs were then transferred to the forges, where the mighty forgemen "fined" them. That is, the ingots were melted down into a pasty mass, which was then hammered and worked into bars.

The quality of the iron produced at the Forges established the company's reputation from the outset:

"The iron which is here made, was to me described as soft, pliable and tough, and is said to have the quality of not being attacked by rust so easily as other iron; and in this point there appears a great difference between the Spanish iron and this in ship-building."

The naturalist Pehr Kalm, 1749. (Travels into North America, trans. J.R. Forster, 1771).