About DIL

World War II would change Canada and the rest of the world forever and in the midst of this change would be born a town called Ajax. At the outset, as increasing numbers of men and women began signing up and leaving for duty overseas, it was quickly recognized that the men on the battlefields, in the air and on the seas would require a steady supply of heavy ammunition. A shell filling plant, in a safe place – one slated to be the largest in the British Empire – would be needed. The only question was where to put it.

The farm fields east of Toronto seemed ideal, far enough away from the nearest city, and battlefields to ensure safety and security. The government moved quickly to expropriate the land it would need – more than 28,000 acres from Duffin’s Creek in the west, to Pickering Beach Road in the east and from Lake Ontario to just north of Hwy 401.

With the location for its major munitions plant established, the government promptly dispatched army surveyors. They arrived on a bitterly cold Valentine’s Day in 1940. In less than a year, everything was in place. The munitions factory, to be operated by Defence Industries Limited (DIL), would require 9,000 workers to produce munitions throughout the years. Over 7,000 of these workers were women, who came from cities, farms and villages across Canada.

After the war, it wasn’t long before the tiny post office in Pickering Village which had served the plant, was overwhelmed. Only one thing stood in the way of the DIL having its own post office – The place needed a name. A small prize was offered and the contest drew many entries. With the stirring Battle of the River Plate still fresh in memory, the idea of naming the community in honour of the British warship HMS Ajax seemed a suitable choice indeed. The Town of Ajax was born.

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