Unlocking North Vancouver History

A Riveted Community: North Vancouver’s Wartime Shipbuilding

Identification Badges

To keep track of a newly expanded work force of thousands, Burrard Dry Dock Company provided each employee with a numbered badge. They were used for the company’s payroll purposes. Employees also used the numbers when punching in and out on time clocks. When an employee left the company, the badge could be reassigned to someone else. Employees wore the buttons pinned to their chests at all times; some photos show workers who pinned them to their hats. As such, they may have served as security devices during wartime, in that anyone found without one could have been considered an intruder or spy. Workers were often bedecked with buttons besides their employee numbers, including union buttons and others indicating which shop or department they worked in.

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All Burrard Dry Dock workers wore a brass badge with an employee number. When matched with employee records, these badges provide useful information about the shipyard’s work force for historians.

Old shipyard badges are now collectors’ items, showing up at flea markets and antique stores. The North Vancouver Museum and Archives has the largest collection of such badges in existence.

Thousands of badges were found in Burrard Dry Dock’s time-clock office in 1992, after the shipyard had closed.

Badge No. 6087 belonged to painter Fred Goble, who worked from 1942 to 1947; badge No. 6359 belonged to sheet-metal helper Thomas Denniston, hired in 1944; and badge No. 6277 belonged to labourer Chas Daien, born in Russia in 1895, who worked from May to November of 1943.

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