Unlocking North Vancouver History

A Riveted Community: North Vancouver’s Wartime Shipbuilding

Launch of H.M.S. “Westend Park”

Before World War II, Canadian shipyards were run-down and technologically far behind yards in places such as England and Scotland. Few vessels of significant size had been built during the Depression years, and the skilled workers were mainly older men whose expertise went back to the previous world war. When Canada set out to help Britain, only six of British Columbia’s shipbuilding yards were deemed capable of constructing the 10,000-ton standardized merchant vessels. One was located in Victoria, one in Prince Rupert and four in the Vancouver area, which included Burrard Inlet. The two located on the inlet’s north shore, Burrard Dry Dock Company and North Van Ship Repairs, produced close to half of Canada’s total output of 354 vessels, as well as the vast majority of the 255 built in British Columbia. The mild West Coast climate helped achieve this feat.

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The SS Westend Park was the 300th 10,000-ton cargo ship built in Canada during World War II, and the 85th at Burrard Dry Dock.

The vessel was launched at the Burrard Dry Dock shipyard in North Vancouver. The company also had a south yard, visible on the opposite side of Burrard Inlet.

The launch took place on June 7, 1944. It took 100 days to build the SS Westend Park to the launch point and 43 more days to finish and equip her for delivery.

This photo was likely taken by Jack Cash, a North Vancouver pipefitter’s helper and staff photographer who documented the war effort for the shipyard.

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