Community Development

Around 1942, Coniston finally built its first road linking the town to the smelter. Prior to this, men would either walk or hitch a ride on the CPR railcar to get to and from work. With the construction of the new road completed, bus service was provided for the workers. Tragedy struck on February 9, 1951 during the morning bus ride to the smelter. On that morning, the temperature was bitterly cold and many of the men on the morning shift had chosen to take the bus to work. Visibility was poor and the passengers were engaged in lively conversations, making it difficult for the driver to hear any disturbances. No one had any idea that a CPR train was heading straight for them. Just as the bus was crossing the railway tracks, the train (which was running late) slammed into the side of the bus, killing nine men and injuring many others. This tragic event was felt throughout the community and the people rallied around one another to offer comfort and support to those whose loved ones were killed.

The 1950's and early 1960's were busy years for Coniston. In 1956, the community established the Hydro-Electric Commission under the umbrella of Ontario Hydro, and two years later, in 1958, the town's sewer system and pumping station were upgraded to reduce flooding and improve living conditions.

In 1967, Canada was celebrating its 100th birthday and Coniston marked the occasion by creating a community park at the intersection of Government Road and Second Avenue. The park was beautified with trees, shrubs, and flowers and a cenotaph, a fountain, and a plaque were placed in the park in honour of the centennial. INCO assisted in this endeavour by donating land, building the fountain, and providing the community with a new location for the tennis courts that were originally located where the park now stands.

By 1968, 2,608 people were living in Coniston and of those, only 350 were working at the smelter (a large decrease from the over 800 people that were employed there in the smelter's heyday). Throughout the early 1970's, Coniston experienced many changes and additions to its landscape including the construction of a new community centre and arena and the building of the public library.


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