1912 June 

  • Imperial Car Company founded by Sir John Gibson (Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario) and six other prominent citizens of Hamilton, Ontario. 

1912 July 

  • The name of the Imperial Car Company is changed to The National Steel Car Company (“NSC”).
  • Construction of the factory begins and, in only three months (a record for construction at the time), car production starts.

1912 December

  • The first wood and steel freight cars roll off the production line. 



  • NSC adds an extension to the passenger car department, and 500 more employees to the payroll, bringing the total number of employees to almost 1,500.

1914-1918 World War I

  • NSC joins the war effort, fabricating steel bodies for trucks used in the war.
  • NSC employees serve their country by enlisting in the war effort. Thirty-seven make the supreme sacrifice.


  • After the war, NSC continues to manufacture motor trucks under the brand “National Truck Company”.


  • In addition to rail cars, NSC begins manufacturing steel chassis for automobiles and steel bodies for motorbuses and streetcars.




  • Manufacturing moves from wood-body to steel-body rail cars.


  • NSC begins its aircraft division in Malton, Ontario, manufacturing the Westland Lysander III, a reconnaissance airplane used in World War II.

1939-1945 World War II

  • NSC joins the war effort.
  • One of the car production lines is converted to the manufacturing of shells, gun parts and army truck bodies. It is the largest producer of these items in the British Empire and North America.
  • Once again, NSC employees proudly enlist in the war effort. Thirty-eight make the supreme sacrifice.


  • NSC buys the Valdes Lumber Company of Nanaimo, British Columbia, to ensure supply of wood for its railcar manufacturing plant in Hamilton, Ontario.


  • NSC receives a $12 million order from Canadian National Railway for passenger cars. In addition, CN awards fifty new baggage cars to NSC.


  • NSC receives a new order for boxcars and hopper cars for the Toronto, Hamilton, and Buffalo Railway (TH&B).
  • NSC’s workforce unionizes under the United Steel Workers union.


  • NSC sells the Valdes Lumber Company, and now becomes the fifth largest industry in Hamilton. It is the second-largest railcar builder in Canada.

1950-1953 Korean War

  • NSC employees enlist in the Korean War.


  • NSC acquires majority control in Trailmobile Canada of Toronto (a subsidiary of Pullman Inc.), which manufactures truck bodies.


  • NSC begins to focus solely on production of freight cars, eventually eliminating passenger cars.


  • Dominion Foundries and Steel (Dofasco) acquires National Steel Car.


  • NSC braves through the uncertainty and turbulence of the rail industry throughout this decade.


  • National Steel Car is purchased from Dofasco.

Over the Next 10 Years

  • National Steel Car is revitalized and reshaped into the largest and most modern single-site railcar plant in North America.


  • NSC enters the U.S. market, increasing market share and expanding to five production lines.


  • NSC receives the TTX SECO Excellent Supplier award consistently for a decade.
  • NSC becomes the only railcar builder in North America to be certified ISO 9001.


  • NSC commissions its own war memorial in honour of the eighty-seven men who made the ultimate sacrifice over the course of three wars.
  • It will be the last cenotaph to be constructed in North America in the 20th century.


  • National Steel Car continues to invest in its people, its product and infrastructure. Its best-in-class freight cars are a result of a dedicated and proud workforce.


“Our spirit and commitment continues.
We are ready for the new challenges that lie ahead in the 21st century.”