The Region's History
Manitoba and the greater Winnipeg area have a history of resource development and manufacturing.
Silicon Metal Manufacturing
Meadow Materials (a branch of Dow Corning) started construction of a short-term research and development test facility in 1990 to study potential for higher efficiency silicon metal manufacturing utilizing silica sand from Black Island, while reducing waste generation. This facility remained in operation until December 1994 when testing was complete.
There have also been other initiatives over the years to fully realize the tremendous potential as an industrial hub such as the Fund for Rural Economic Development (FRED) implemented in the 1960's for development of the region. At that time, along with other opportunities, the refined silica sand from Black Island was considered for a glass container manufacturing plant.
MANITOBA's GLASS & SILICA HISTORY
Manitoba Glass Company
Dating back to 1906, the first glass container factory in Western Canada started operations in Beausejour. The Manitoba Glass Company utilized the silica sand resource, local labour and specialty labour from the USA to produce bottles for breweries and soft drink companies in Winnipeg. At its peak, they employed 350 workers and were producing 15,000 to 20,000 bottles per week. This facility was eventually moved to Redcliff in Alberta in response to an offer of free natural gas and land, permanently closing its Beausejour site in 1914.
Black Island Silica Mining
The white silica sand from the Winnipeg geological formation was previously mined from Black Island in Lake Winnipeg (5km across the Seymourville shore). Silica sand from Black Island was of high quality at 99 to 99.5% purity. It was quarried, washed and then barged down the lake and up the Red River to Selkirk Silica's facility for various industrial uses as well as for glass manufacturing in other parts of Canada.