Unlocking North Vancouver History

A Riveted Community: North Vancouver’s Wartime Shipbuilding

S.S. “Bowness Park”

Shipbuilding tapered off at the North Vancouver shipyards from 1943 on, since the Allies’ increasing success meant that fewer and fewer replacement vessels were required. Local shipbuilders had developed such expertise during the war that they competed fiercely for dwindling postwar contracts. Finally, in 1951, Burrard Dry Dock Company bought out North Van Ship Repairs to eliminate the stiff competition. This accounts for the fact that the smaller company is less frequently mentioned in materials about the achievements of North Vancouver ship builders during World War II, although its contribution was equally remarkable. The end of an era came in March of 1972, when the Wallace family, who had run the company through three generations, sold Burrard Dry Dock. The firm had had trouble trying to keep up with the latest shipbuilding technology, given its few contracts, and was also suffering from internal family conflicts.

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This Victory Ship, SS Bowness Park, is flying the Canadian Red Ensign from the stern during sea trials. Traditionally, the flag is flown from eight in the morning to sunset to declare the ship’s nationality.

This sea trial took the SS Bowness Park out of Burrard Inlet, under the Lions Gate Bridge and out into English Bay as far as Point Atkinson.

Completed in June 1944, the new ship underwent a detailed inspection and survey. Sea trials included compass adjustment, anchor-cable testing, direction-finder calibration and engine-efficiency checks.

Representatives from Lloyd’s Registry of Shipping, the British ministries of Shipping and War Transport, Wartime Merchant Shipping and Burrard Dry Dock’s superintendent of outfitting participated in sea trials.

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