In honour of Labour Day, the Simcoe County Archives is spotlighting records from one of the seminal industries to shape the County: Shipbuilding.
Originally formed in 1883 as Collingwood Dry Dock Shipbuilding and Foundry Company Limited, the company was renamed the Collingwood Shipyards by 1903. Well known for producing some of the highest quality vessels to sail the Great Lakes, the Collingwood Shipyards employed approximately 1300 people at its height between the 1930s – 1940s. Skilled trades and craftsmen included machinists, electricians, fitters, shipwrights, and welders, to name a few.
The Collingwood Shipyards had a strong union presence with representation from the United Steelworkers of America (Local 6320). This Labour Agreement booklet, dated April 1, 1964 – April 1 1967, outlines some of the key roles the union played in advocating for workers. Issues ranged from compensation and leave, to worker health and safety.
Simcoe County Archives holds many records related to the operational history of the Collingwood Shipyards, including photographs, blueprints, engineering schematics, and corporate ledgers. These materials are currently on loan from the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston.
Midland Engine Works
The Midland Engine Works was established in 1896 and primarily built gasoline engines and parts for the marine industry. This focus shifted to munitions during the First World War, a period which also saw their labour force jump from around 25 to upwards of 60.
The undated image below shows workers assembled outside of the Midland Engine Works.
In addition to photographs of the employees of the Midland Engine Works, Simcoe County Archives also holds images of the original grounds and facilities of the company.
For more information on the history of labour and industry in Simcoe County, check out our online descriptive database or come by the Archives.
"CollShip: 100 Years of Shipbuilding Excellence" supplement to the Collingwood Times, Wasaga Beach Times, and Beaver Valley Review Herald. May 4, 1983.
"Labour Agreement and Plant Rules" Collingwood Shipyards a division Canadian Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd. April 1, 1964 – April 1, 1967.
"Midland Engine Works". Midland Rotary Waterfront Trail: Historical Sign Locations. Corporation of the Town of Midland.