Unlocking North Vancouver History

A Riveted Community: North Vancouver’s Wartime Shipbuilding

Crowd Gathered for Jack Benny

North Vancouver’s shipyards held war-bond rallies led by notables such as entertainer Jack Benny or Victoria Cross winner Smokey Smith. They were designed to fire up workers about investing in government-issued bonds that funded the war effort. Over 90 percent of North Vancouver’s shipyard employees purchased war bonds. North Van Ship Repairs president A. C. Burdick commended his workers with this speech: “It not only shows your high sense of loyalty and patriotism but also shows a keen appreciation of intelligent investment. You have bought the best and safest security that can be purchased anywhere.” To encourage sales, the Burrard Dry Dock newsletter listed equipment these bonds would buy. For example, a $50 bond would buy a rifle and bayonet, a Sten submachine carbine and ammunition, or five army tents, while a $500 bond would buy two airforce parachutes, “perhaps the very two that will save the lives of two Canadian boys.”

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Shipyard workers gathered with members of the Wallace Pipe Band for the arrival of celebrities to promote the purchase of war bonds.

The event took place in the shipyard courtyard, between the pipe shop and the time-clock office, at Burrard Dry Dock’s north yard.

This rally took place on April 21, 1944. Note the flags of the Allied forces and the piano on stage for the entertainers.

Personalities like radio star Jack Benny, his co-star Rochester (Eddie Anderson), actress Mary Livingston, Phil Harris, and heroes such as Smokey Smith entertained shipyard workers.

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