Arvida History

Arvida was built in four stages. The first stage started during the summer of 1926 and produced 270 houses in 135 days, as the smelter was producing its first ingots, and while churches and schools were also being built. In the greater urban planning, established over the 2,400 acres bought by the company to build its aluminum metropolis, neighbourhoods surrounding the smelter were literally rising from the ground. But the history of Arvida began way before…

Arvida has inherited its exceptional scope and unprecedented skills from its founders the pillars of an exceptional company: by the end of the 19th Century, the aluminum company, due to its primary resources, was already a multinational transporting its skilled craftsmen all around the world. The Davis, Fickes and others who created Arvida have travelled to the far corners of the French aluminum market: they founded Suriname’s Moengo, Guyana’s Mackenzie; they condemned the American dormitories of Massena, admired the model cities of the British chocolate industry, and contemplated those created around Norway’s hydropower. In 1919, in its namesake town in Tennessee, Alcoa went as far as selling houses to its African-American workers: “This is where we all come equals” was then said. It comes as no surprise when Wake, in charge of the Arvida construction, offers homes inspired by the “common type of the province of Québec”. The aim is to create an engaging design, enabling a growing sense of belonging among workers in an environment free of discrimination. If it wasn’t for some 20 houses reserved for mobile workers, there is no sign of social status, since no social class or ethnic background is confined in a neighbourhood. In the city, which soon counts thirty nationalities, only the religious affiliations polarize the mainly Catholic and Protestant population. The original multinational project identifies more and more as being Canadian, from Québec, and from Arvida. 

The history of Arvida also became that of men and workers, of the new National Labor Union of the Employees of the Aluminum of Arvida, founded in 1937, of labour dispute and celebrations, of the Arvida anthem, composed for the 25th year of the city, and of all those who moved to other aluminum towns, all over the world. When the fourth construction stage is announced in 1948, individuals are now building houses on the same land, and Arvida, now a city, capital and metropolis, has kept every promises that could be foreseen. Thanks to its integrated design, unique for 1925, the smelter has set production records until becoming, in 1842, the world’s largest. It maintained its position for over three decades. Surrounding the Arvida AP60 smelter, commemorating a rich and tumultuous history, the people of Arvida today bear witness…

  Official City of Saguenay website