Unlocking North Vancouver History

A Riveted Community: North Vancouver’s Wartime Shipbuilding

Clarence Wallace with Ship Model

Clarence Wallace headed the Burrard Dry Dock Company family business throughout World War II. He was directly responsible for its enormous contribution, making it a personal mission to exceed his promised quota of ships. More-established eastern Canadian shipbuilders had been sceptical of his building schedules and cost projections, but aided by the mild West Coast climate and a well-organized work force, he proved them wrong. The federal government even arranged for other shipbuilders to visit Burrard’s facilities to see its highly efficient production methods. Wallace had been gassed in World War I and lost one of his four sons in World War II, which likely explains his strong dedication to helping turn the tide of the war. His personal connections to H. R. MacMillan of Wartime Merchant Shipping Ltd. initially enabled him to secure shipbuilding contracts in 1941. Partly in recognition of his wartime achievements, he was appointed lieutenant-governor of British Columbia in 1950.

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Burrard Dry Dock president Clarence Wallace poses with a 10,000-ton cargo ship model. Note the portrait of his father, company founder Andrew Wallace, in the background.

This photo was taken in Clarence Wallace’s office in the North Vancouver shipyard. The original Wallace Shipyard was in False Creek; the business moved to the north shore of Burrard Inlet in 1906.

This photo was taken in 1943. Between January 1942 and December 1943, Burrard completed 65 ships of the model’s type, 60 percent of its total wartime production.

Andrew Wallace founded the family business in 1894. Clarence took over in 1929. Clarence’s son David later served as general manager until the business was sold in 1972.

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