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This important shipyard had its origins in the Albion Iron Works located on the inner harbour just north of what is now Capital Iron (Originally a Sugar Works). Albion, founded by Joseph Spratt and Johann Kriemler, was an important builder of machinery in Victoria’s early years. It also repaired ships on a slipway near the eastern end of the Point Ellice Bridge. In 1882, Albion became a public company whose directors included several prominent businessmen including Robert Dunsmuir, Robert Paterson Rithet, Joseph Trutch, and John Irving. In 1887, the firm became known as the Victoria Machinery Depot and bought land on the north side of Rock Bay adjacent to the eastern end of the modern Bay Street Bridge. It manufactured large steel items like conduits that were used on the lower mainland and prefabricated steamers used on northern rivers during the Yukon Gold Rush.
During WWI, Victoria Machinery Depot built four 8,800 deadweight ton, steel freighters on a new location on the western side of the harbour south of Point Ellice Bridge through a related company, Harbour Marine Works. After 1921, Marguerite Ethel Spratt took over as president of Victoria Machinery Depot from her husband Charles Spratt when his health declined. She guided the company until 1946, the first North American woman to run a large engineering and shipbuilding organization.
Victorial Machinery Depot built five corvettes early in WWII in the Bay Street yard. The next phase of wartime construction involved large freighters. To build these, Victorial Machinery Depot bought the old Rithet piers south of Shoal Point and adjacent property. This became known as Yard No 2. Twenty 10,000 vessels were built there. Victoria Machinery Depot also built 5 smaller freighters.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Victoria Machinery Depot built a destroyer for the Royal Canadian Navy and did naval refits. The yard was heavily involved in the early building programs for B.C. Ferries, producing 11 of their first 15 vessels. It also built barges and trailer ferries in addition to fabricating steel structures for industrial use. The last major project at Shoal Point was an offshore oil drilling platform completed in 1967, largest in the world at the time, but it broken up in India in 2017. Harold Husband had acquired a controlling interest in the company in 1947 and was its dynamic general manger until 1981. Yard No 2 was closed in 1967 and Victoria Machinery Depot became a major supplier to the Alberta oil and gas industries from what it developed as a heavy engineering factory at the Point Ellice Yard No 1 site. However, this facility was closed in 1994 and Victoria Machinery Depot went out of business.
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