Unlocking North Vancouver History

A Riveted Community: North Vancouver’s Wartime Shipbuilding

Launch of H.M.S. “Beachy Head”

In a custom rooted in myth and entwined with religion, a woman was always asked to christen a new ship by smashing a bottle of champagne across the bow. Usually, hundreds of dignitaries and employees attended such occasions. During the earlier years of the war, there had been little time for ceremonies such as the one shown here, with a special VIP platform and the Wallace Pipe Band. By 1945 the pressure to launch and deliver cargo ships had lessened. Here the sense of occasion is heightened because the ship was being delivered to the British Royal Navy. This accounts for both the Canadian flag (the Red Ensign) and the Union Jack being prominently featured on the bow. Shipyard worker Alice Kruzic recalled a 1944 launch: “When I saw that ship slide down the ways, I was so proud. I wanted so much to help win the war against the fascists.”

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WHAT
This is the Burrard Dry Dock launch of HMS Beachy Head, one of 10 maintenance escort vessels built for the British Royal Navy for wartime activities in the Pacific.

WHERE
The HMS Beachy Head was destined for southeast Asia and the Far East in order to provide machine repairs and equipment in remote areas not supported by Allied naval bases.

WHEN
The HMS Beachy Head was launched on October 21, 1944. The ship took 335 days to complete — three times as long as ships built during the war’s most critical years.

WHO
The Royal Navy’s Pacific fleet was repaired and maintained by four maintenance escort ships built at Burrard Dry Dock: HMS Beachy Head, HMS Flamborough Head, HMS Berry Head and HMS Duncansby Head.

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Unlocking North Vancouver History

A Riveted Community: North Vancouver’s Wartime Shipbuilding

Moodyville Sawmill Co.

The lands and mills of what became Moodyville were bought and sold for 40 years. In 1863 T. W. Graham and George Scrimgeour pre-empted 480 acres (194 ha) of Crown land and established Pioneer Mills, the first sawmill at the site. (Pre-emption was a process that allowed pioneers to apply to the provincial government to claim, settle and eventually buy or be given Crown land.) The next year, J. O. Smith bought the struggling business, renamed it Burrard Inlet Mills and sent out the first international cargo. Sewell Prescott Moody (1834-1875) and two partners bought out the near-bankrupt undertaking cheaply in January 1865, changed the name to Burrard Inlet Lumber Mills and made it a success. In 1866 Moody took on new partners George Dietz (1830-84) and Hugh Nelson (1830-93). After a fire, he rebuilt the second mill as a 330-foot (100 m) structure capable of producing 100,000 board feet (236 m3) of lumber per day. The complex was named the Moodyville Sawmill Company by the early 1870s. The mill and town were actually built on pilings, with dumped ship’s ballast and sawdust making up the reclaimed land underfoot.

WHAT
A barque loads through her bow ports at the Moodyville mill. Many residences belonging to community members can be seen in the background.

WHERE
The busy waterfront was a centre of activity. Zoom in to see a Native canoe and men on a scow unloading hay for horses in the logging camps.

WHEN
This photo was taken sometime after 1882, when Moodyville was already well established.

WHO
Houses visible in the background belonged to people such as mill owner Sewell Moody, cook Philip Sullivan, and engineer and machinist James Lockhart.

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