The creation of the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company began in 1909 with discussions between Western Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company, members of Port Arthur’s city council and local land owners. The Ottawa Citizen of July 17, 1909 reported: “Officials of Port Arthur have agreed to give the coal company 1,000 acres of land, pay a bonus of $25,000 a year for ten years and exempt the company from taxes for twenty years, except $2,000 a year for school purposes.”
In April 1911, the new Port Arthur yard, already referred to as the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company, was ready to bid on its first contract for a ship for the Northern Navigation company in competition with the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company. Located at Bare Point, on Thunder Bay, Lake Superior, it was the westernmost shipbuilding plant on the Great Lakes and would be the largest steel shipbuilding plant in the Dominion of Canada. (Boston Evening Transcript, April 4, 1911)
The Noronic was built at Port Arthur by Western Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Co. in Port Arthur for Northern Navigation in 1913. Unfortunately, after being put into service in 1914 it developed a sudden list which required repair over the following winter.
In December of 1914, the Director of Western Dry Dock Co. proposed that submarines for the Imperial navy be built at Port Arthur, which was “the most up-to-date shipbuilding factory in Canada” (Ottawa Citizen) at that time. The shipbuilding industry in Canada languished in the early years of the war due to the lack of a steel rolling mill in Canada and restrictions on access to American steel. Later, the embargo was raised, allowing Canadian contracts to go ahead. (Gazette Times)
James Whalen of Port Arthur, the president of Western Dry-dock and Shipbuilding Company, and John Burnham of Chicago took over control of the Company in November, 1916 at which time it seems the name officially changed to Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company. The shipyard was expected to operate at full capacity to turn out 12 boats that year. (Toronto World)
As World War 1 progressed the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company profited from building various ships for both the Imperial and Dominion governments. By 1917, the Imperial Munitions Board had contracted out the building of ships with an overall tonnage of just under 472,000 tons with contracts for several cargo steamers going to Port Arthur. shipbuildinghistory.com lists the hull numbers of the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company which include 10 Minesweepers for the Royal Navy in 1917-1918 and 4 more after the war in 1919. After the war, they built 7 Cargo Ships for the Canadian Government Merchant Marine.
Through the years, the company has changed hands, operating as Lakehead Marine & Industrial Inc. from 1993 until declaring bankruptcy in 2014. While continuing in the business of ship repair, Lakehead Marine & Industrial Inc. also specialized in industrial fabrication of steel products for the forestry, pulp and paper and oil and gas industries.
Alexander, Tom. H.
Carver, Alfred J.
Clarke, Jno. M.
Deschamp, Paul W.
Emery, Thos. W.
Freeman, Dr. W.P.
Grover, Percy C.
Graham, Geo. M.
Landells, Gaven B.
Roberts, Thos. W.
Shipton, Sydney R.
Smith, Jas. H.
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