A Visual Tour of the McLean Shipyard in Prince Rupert BC

by John MacFarlane 2017

Main buildings

The main buildings as seen at the entrance of the McLean Shipyard. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

The McLean Shipyard is tucked into Seal Cove next to the Canadian Coast Guard Base at Prince Rupert BC. It is a family run company that has been part of the Prince Rupert history since 1909.

Ken McLean

Ken McLean (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

Ken McLean runs the business end of the operation. He was like so many craftsmen in the shipyard business, he is a master of many trades. In 1969 he took over the operation.

He notes that the business has changed over the years particularly as they have evolved into general repairs and general maintenance. A big challenge is that they have to order parts from farther away as sources locally no longer carry the large inventories that they once did. They were originally ship builders and have evolved over the years to become ship repairers. The last new boat was built in 1966. Its mainly fish boats and yachts that they handle on the marine railway. A good part of the business are regular customers returning time and again. At the moment its the crabbing fleet that keeps them busiest.

John McLean

John McLean (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

Son John McLean has been full time in the business for 32 years – he started when he was aged 14. He oversees the work in the shops and on the marine railway. All ships need maintenance he notes, there is always some business to handle particularly around breakdowns and accidents. The yard currently has 4 workers on staff which is down from the 70–80 they had employed during the Second World War and the 35 that were employed there in 1965.

Ken McLeans Office

The view from the office (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

Norman Murdock McLean came from a family of Prince Edward Island family of boat builders in 1909. He started building houses in Prince Rupert but established a boat yard in Cow Bay where he built his first boats. In 1927 he moved the yard to a larger site at Seal Cover where it resides today. Norman McLean died in 1944 and the yard was taken over by his son Wilfred who dies in 1966. Another son Bill ran it until he died in 1968. In 1969 it was taken over by Ken McLean who has been in charge ever since.

The sheds

The sheds over the ways, during a ‘king’ tide in August. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

The railway carriage

The main railway carriage on the slipway. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

Extreme tidal conditions

Extreme tidal conditions (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

Inside the shed

Inside the big shed. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

Workshop

The workshop area (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

Lumber

Aging lumber (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

The company originally obtained their lumber mainly from Robert Heaps but now they buy it from Westwind in Sydney BC. The lumber ages a long time before it is used. Some of it has been in the storage for up to 40 years. They use yellow cedar as there is no ready supply of fir on the north coast.

Large lumber

Large lumber aging (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

Walls inside

The walls tell stories, the half hulls are designs from which the vessels were built. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

Everywhere you look the walls are covered in memories. There are half hulls from vessels built in the traditional way in teh yard. There are photos, calendars, paperwork, tools and spare parts.

Photo panels

Large photo panels in the workshop area (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

Winch House

The winch house on the outside marine railway. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

Marine Railway

There is also a marine railway outside, not covered. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

Grid

There is a scow grid. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

The floats

Vessels awaiting access to to the marine railway for scheduled work. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

The floats are filled with boats that are awaiting service or being stored by their owners.



To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2017) The McLean Shipyard in Prince Rupert BC. Nauticapedia.ca 2017. http://nauticapedia.ca/Gallery/McLean_Shipyard.php

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