Margaret Horne was the first woman ironworker in Nova Scotia. She was also the first woman in Canada to earn a Red Seal certificate in ironworking.
“I worked at lots of other jobs – cake decorating, waitressing, telemarketing – but I wasn’t happy,” says 29-year-old Margaret Horne, of Cape Breton. “Then I joined the (ironworking industry) in 1998 and never looked back. It’s been a great experience. Looking back at the buildings you put up… there’s nothing like it. The Casino in Halifax, the All Saints Cathedral Apartments – I can look at those and say ‘I helped build that.’”
As a journeyperson ironworker, Margaret puts up structural steel as well as pre-cast concrete. She works for Stresscon Limited, based in New Brunswick.
“I have no problem working with just men and they have no problem with me. I’ve worked hard and I’ve proven myself. The work is physically demanding and challenging, and I’m good at it. I enjoy the job, and that’s why I do it.” Margaret advises other women to go into construction for the same reason: “You have to enjoy what you do. Only go into it if you think it’s something you’ll enjoy. That makes all the difference. Don’t do it just to be different.”
As an ironworker, Margaret has travelled all over the Maritimes and to Alberta. In her experience, the travel and demands of a career in ironworking don’t interfere with family life. “I grew up with it,” she says. “My father is an ironworker. He travelled while I was young. My brother is an ironworker too. You go where the work is. It’s just part of the job, and it’s never been an issue for us.”