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Manufacturing's devastating death in St. Thomas, Ont. Add to ...

John LaCroix, 52, lost his job at St. Thomas's Sterling Truck plant in 2007. In 2009, the plant shut down, wiping out more than 1,400 jobs. Ford will cut about 1,000 direct jobs when it shuts its St. Thomas Assembly Plant in nearby Talbotville, Ont., in September. With that, one of Mr. LaCroix's part-time jobs will disappear - at Lear Corp., in St. Thomas itself, where the seats for the Ford vehicles are made.

His journey through the recession reflects the devastation the manufacturing crisis has wrought on St. Thomas, the one-time railway capital of Canada that now has a strong claim to another, more dubious title: the Canadian city hit hardest by the recession and factory closings.

Mr. LaCroix has led a nomad-like existence in both his working and personal life since Sterling let him go in 2007. Under the stress, his marriage ended. He has had infrequent work at the adjustment centre set up by the Canadian Auto Workers union and Sterling to help workers find new jobs, retraining opportunities or educational assistance when their jobs in the plant were eliminated.

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