Unlocking North Vancouver History

A Riveted Community: North Vancouver’s Wartime Shipbuilding

Wartime Housing

The City of North Vancouver was unable to keep up with the housing needs of a huge influx of shipyard employees. The federal government stepped in to help fill the void by establishing Wartime Housing Ltd. in 1941. It moved quickly to end the crisis, signing agreements with municipalities to build three types of standardized houses. Under this program, more housing was built in North Vancouver in two years than had been built in the previous 20. It filled empty lots that had reverted to the city during the hard times and bankruptcies of the Great Depression. New structures included 687 single-family rental dwellings, two barracks-type apartments for bachelors, an administration building, a school, a school addition, a recreation centre and a firehall. The houses had no basements, to make removal easier, as it was expected that they would be demolished after the war. Some have, nevertheless, survived.

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An example of a 20 x 24-foot Cape Cod-style wartime house. The layout of this home consisted of two bedrooms and a living room, a bathroom and a kitchen.

This house stood on McNaughton Crescent in North Vancouver. Rows of this type of housing created entire new neighbourhoods within walking distance of the shipyards.

This photo was taken in July of 1980. The house was later removed to make way for city developments. Approximately 100 wartime houses still survive in North Vancouver.

These houses were produced for the shipyard work force and their families. Rents averaged $20 per month plus $1.35 for water services.

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