Unlocking North Vancouver History

A Riveted Community: North Vancouver’s Wartime Shipbuilding


During World War II, the small community of North Vancouver took on an importance in the context of world events that it is unlikely to achieve ever again. The community’s population jumped sharply as more and more workers were hired at its two major shipyards. These men and women built so many 10,000-ton steel freighters that they proved a major factor in helping to turn the tide of the war. Residents were aware of this significant contribution. It was a source of pride but also of realization that they risked becoming an enemy target. People rallied in both respects, investing as heavily in war bonds as they trained in security measures to protect their community and its shipbuilding industry. Women were especially affected by these changes, as the shipyards temporarily opened up an opportunity for well-paid employment and equal treatment. The North Vancouver boom, however, was strictly a wartime phenomenon. Peacetime took away the incentive for hyperactivity, and though kept busy as British Columbia and Canada’s population and economy experienced strong growth, the industrial waterfront settled back into a relatively calm existence.

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