A century ago, the steel ships working coastal waters were built elsewhere. Gradually marine engineers began migrating to the coast with their families, and the BC industry got underway.
Ships of Steel chronicles that industry from the early development of steel construction facilities, equipment and qualified personnel; to the World War II boom when BC yards delivered two 10,000-ton freighters every week; to the postwar production of tugs, barges, fish boats and sophisticated supply vessels; to the present day.
The heart of the story is a half-century's worth of observations and recollections by Arthur McLaren (1919-99), a natural storyteller who owned and ran Allied Shipbuilders for 50 years and who knew the business inside out. This invaluable oral history is presented in the context of an engaging, readable history of the industry by Vickie Jensen, a marine writer who was a friend of Arthur McLaren. Also included are anecdotal and technical information from McLaren's archives, memories from his colleagues, and provincial steel shipbuilding statistics and photographs published here for the first time. Ships of Steel is a behind-the-scenes look at a coastal shipyard, an invaluable piece of BC maritime and industrial history, and a tribute to the skill, determination and ingenuity of BC's shipbuilding crews.