Tantramar Historic Trust hosts book launch for Susan Amos’ latest work

The town of Sackville has a rich and lively history. Foundries were a large part of Sackville’s past and have played a significant role in Sackville’s industrial scene well into the 21st century. In fact, foundries were in Sackville for over 150 years. They were factories for casting metal, the backbone of business in Sackville, and an integral part of the community. Susan Amos, a member of the Tantramar Historic Trust, has taken it upon herself to write the first book on these Sackville foundries and the people that worked in them. On Saturday, September 17, the Tantramar Historic Trust hosted a book launch in order to celebrate Amos’ latest accomplishment: Foundries of Sackville, NB: The Places, Products, Processes, and People

“If you were to tell me three years ago that I was going to write a book on foundries, I would have asked what a foundry was,” said Amos. Amos originally became interested in this topic following the completion of her previous work. Prior to beginning her quest to cement the foundries of Sackville’s place in history she wrote a play about the rails that had gone through the town. Part of her inspiration for exploring the history of Sackville are  her ties to the town’s past. Her play about the Sackville rails started through a familial connection to their history, and the same was true for foundries. “My uncle’s dad had worked at Fawcett’s,” one of the three foundries in Sackville, said Amos. It is there that she first learned of foundries and became interested in exploring their history. 

These factories had a distinct influence on the town that is evident through the stories of the townsfolk and employees that Amos has collected for her book. These were not simply companies. There were generations of families that worked in these buildings, many of whose descendants are still in the area today. Multiple members of the crowd even shared their memories of the role these influential structures played in their lives. The whistles of these buildings in particular were considered essential to the running of the town. “12 o’clock hit, the whistle went, and the town came to life,” said one of the attendees. It was considered a marker for managing their lives, going to school, coming home from a friend’s, and getting lunch. Even the sound of the boots that the workers wore as they came out of the factories was significant to some townsfolk. These giants of the Sackville industry inspired art by the forgers in the factories—which Amos identified as “Foundry Art.” They helped in war efforts during the First and Second World Wars. They even left their mark through the street names of Sackville such as Fawcett Av., Hesler Dr., & Enterprise St.. 

However, Amos would like to see more done to commemorate the foundries. She wanted to ensure that that part of Sackville history was not forgotten. When asked how she wanted to accomplish this, Amos revealed that Mount Allison University, the Town of Sackville, the Tantramar Historic Trust, and the Federal Government have been working on dedicating a monument donated by the Bowser family (the last leaders of the foundries). While there is still much to discuss, they would like to see the structure (a machine from the Enterprise foundry) placed where the former Fawcett’s foundry was. In addition to this, the Tantramar Historic Trust hopes to host an exhibit with foundry artifacts in the future. 

When asked about her book, Amos described it as a “book for everybody,” including over 360 images from the town’s history. During the launch, she thanked everyone who helped her along the way to writing this book, with special mention to her two dogs who sat by her while she wrote it. “It has been an honour and a privilege to write this part of our history,” Amos expressed. 

In addition to her book, Amos has also written a play that will premiere later this fall in conjunction with Live Bait Theatre. The play centers on the people that worked in the foundries and is titled Foundries of Sackville NB: The People. In addition to this, if your interest for the history of Sackville foundries is piqued, the Tantramar Historic Trust will be hosting various events later this year centered around the foundries to celebrate their anniversaries.

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