IRONS firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-05-28 published
John McMULKIN, 92: Steelmaker
Engineer 'was a giant of the Canadian steel industry'
By Allison LAWLOR, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S8
Events that transpired following a research trip to Austria in the early 1950s turned a Hamilton-based inquiring metallurgical engineer into a pioneer of modern steelmaking. Called "the father of oxygen steelmaking in North America," John McMULKIN convinced the managers of Dofasco in 1954 to invest in a new process that would not only catapult the company into a major Canadian steelmaker, but at the same time revolutionize the industry.
As the inaugural head of Dofasco's research department, he travelled the world in search of new technologies. Aware that Austria and Germany had been developing techniques to use oxygen in the steelmaking process during the Second World War, he decided to visit Austria in the early 1950s to see what it was all about.
"He realized it [the technology] was going to be a breakthrough," said Norm LOCKINGTON, retired vice-president of research at Dofasco (now called ArcelorMittal Dofasco).
Like most North American steel firms at that time, Dofasco was using an open-hearth furnace to make steel. In that process, carbon-rich molten iron is burned in gigantic open hearths for hours to allow the carbon to burn off and produce steel. In contrast, Austrian steelmakers had discovered that pure oxygen blown into the furnace at a high pressure dramatically accelerated the process. What would take up to 16 hours to produce in the old open hearths took half an hour in the oxygen furnace, Mr. LOCKINGTON said.
Mr. McMULKIN returned to Canada excited by what he had witnessed in Austria and was impatient to try it at home. He ran trials at the plant in Hamilton and successfully persuaded his superiors at Dofasco to install a basic oxygen furnace in 1954. When the furnace churned out its first batch of steel, Dofasco became the first company to apply the technology outside of Europe. "Within 10 years, steelmaking had changed," Mr. LOCKINGTON said. Before long, companies across the United States were knocking at Dofasco's door, anxious to learn how they too could implement the new technology.
The oxygen furnaces - which today stand five storeys high and hold enough steel to make 200 cars - remain the common standard for steelmaking around the world. More than half of Dofasco's steelmaking today comes from an oxygen furnace and the remainder from an electric arc furnace.
"He was a giant of the Canadian steel industry," said Gordon IRONS, director of McMaster University's Steel Research Centre. "He put Dofasco on the map. Before he came along they were a small company, but they became a large, successful company that put a great emphasis on research and development."
Raised in the steelmaking city of Sault Ste. Marie in Northern Ontario, John McMULKIN was an only child. His father was the well-regarded owner of a dry-goods store who was also active in local politics. After receiving a scholarship, young John headed off to the Michigan College of Mining and Technology, where he studied metallurgical engineering.
After graduation, he returned home to work at Algoma Steel. He later joined the Ontario Research Foundation in Toronto, where, during the war years, he worked on plate welding for light armoured vehicles. In 1945, at Toronto's Deer Park United Church badminton club, Mr. McMULKIN met his future wife, Margaret. A year later they were married.
Immediately following the war, he went to Dofasco in Hamilton on a research fellowship. A year later, he joined its staff and was asked to start up a research department. By his retirement in 1985, he had 80 people working with him.
"He was a one-person research department in the early days. He could just make things happen in a hurry," Mr. LOCKINGTON said. "He was sometimes frustrated that things couldn't happen as fast as they did in the early days."
While some considered him gruff or impatient, everyone respected his knowledge of the industry, his dedication to his job and his intelligence. "He had an inquiring mind and a very brilliant mind," said his wife, Margaret McMULKIN.
While basic oxygen steelmaking remained the crowning achievement of his career, Mr. McMULKIN would go on to make other major improvements in steelmaking. Under his guidance, Dofasco became the first company in Canada to add an electrolytic tinning line used to make tin-plated steel for tin cans. He is also credited for developing Dofasco's mining properties.
While he retired in the mid-1980s, he continued to stay abreast of new advances in steelmaking. He often visited his old office and still felt connected to the company. As much as he was fascinated by the science of steelmaking, he liked people just as much. "He was the kind of person who saw it as his role to mentor young people," Mr. LOCKINGTON said.
Aside from being awarded an honorary doctor of engineering degree from the Michigan Technological University, Mr. McMULKIN also received almost every award available from steelmaking industry associations.
Francis John McMULKIN was born on December 7, 1915, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario He died February 18, 2008, of prostate cancer. He was 92. He leaves his wife, Margaret, and children Bruce and Mary McMULKIN.
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IRONSIDE email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-03-25 published
MENZIES, Catherine "Kitty" Marshall (née POLLOCK / SLADEN)
At home with her loving family by her side. She is finally reunited with her beloved Don. Cherished mother of Vicki MOORE (Stan) of Richardson, Texas, Susan MENZIES and Jill IRONSIDE (Bruce) of Alliston. Adored Nana of Scott MOORE, Peter MOORE (Brooke,) James IRONSIDE and Heather IRONSIDE. Kitty and Don were former residents of Edmonton, Willowdale, Milton and Oakville. The family would like to thank Reverend Jim GILL (Walton Memorial United Church, Oakville), Doctor S. STERN (Oakville), Doctor O. RAMIREZ (Alliston) and the many caregivers and Hospice volunteers who helped to make mother's last months as comfortable and bright as possible. She was a light in our lives and will be forever missed. Funeral Service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday March 28th in the W. John Thomas Funeral Home, 244 Victoria St. E. Alliston. If so desired, memorial donations made to the Stevenson Memorial Hospital Foundation (Cardiac Critical Care Unit), 200 Fletcher Cres. Alliston, Ontario L9R 1W7 or to Walton Memorial United Church, 2489 Lakeshore Rd. W. Oakville, Ontario L6L 1H9 would be appreciated.
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