Unlocking North Vancouver History

A Riveted Community: North Vancouver’s Wartime Shipbuilding

Women Workers at Burrard Drydock

At the end of World War II, all women working in shipbuilding and other wartime industries lost their jobs to returning men. Despite the opposition of the unions, they fell victim to discriminatory layoffs. According to the newspapers of the day, shipbuilders argued that it was impossible to justify the expense of maintaining separate women’s facilities, which were mandated by government regulations, when plenty of men were available to work. The women workers were understandably reluctant to leave, with only waitressing, typing or unpaid housework to return to. During wartime, they had received wages equal to men and had experienced the best working conditions they had ever known. Women who continued in traditional men’s jobs beyond the war’s end often faced public censure for “taking a job away from a man.”

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WHAT
Burrard Dry Dock Company’s female employees pose for a group photograph on their last day.

WHERE
This photo was taken at the north yard’s women’s entrance, which was located at the foot of St. Georges Avenue.

WHEN
This was taken in August of 1945. From the photo caption, it appears that copies of this official photograph were given to the departing employees at the end of the war.

WHO
Miss Pilgrim, the woman in front of the first row, centre left, worked in the first-aid and hospital unit. She later became a nurse for the Eaton’s Company.

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