The American Cyanamid Company founded a chemical plant in Niagara Falls in 1909. It used a revolutionary “air-Nitrogen” technique to manufacture calcium cyanide, to be used in synthetic fertilizers. The city was chosen as the best location because it was a source of hydro electricity, necessary to the industrial process.
In WWII, Cyanamid operated a plant along the Welland River to produce the explosives, ammonium nitrate and picrate. That site was known as the Cyanamid Welland Plant.
Cyanamid also operated a public swimming pool, located near the curve on Stanley Avenue at Thorold Stone Road. It was a popular picnic area, and truckloads of sand were brought in to create a miniature beach. In 1969, Cyanamid granted the Niagara Falls YMCA the rights to operate the pool, but it was soon abandoned due to problems meeting the newest provincial standards. Cyanamid also donated its recreation hall on Fourth Avenue to the YMCA, which was their home until they moved to the McBain Community Centre in 2005.
March 5, 1992 delivered devastating news: Cyanamid was closing. More than 200 people lost their jobs. The former union president Rick Hall wondered “Is Niagara Falls in the next 10 years, going to be a completely tourism-oriented town?” Over the next few years the buildings were all demolished.
Some of Cyanamid’s land had been used for dumping grounds of industrial waste. Studies were conducted to determine the safest way to contain it. Local residents worried that years of emissions from the smokestacks could have had effects on their health, but a report by Niagara Regions’s public health department denied the possibility.
The Gale Centre Arena Complex was constructed on the former Cyanamid brownfield lands, and a Thorold Stone Road extension was opened to allow access.
There will be a poster of a historic photo on site at this location during the summer of 2017.