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Saturday, 18 June 2011 from 2 - 4pm.

Book Signing

A Bridge of Ships : Canadian Shipbuilding during the Second World War

Jim Pritchard's new book published by McGill-Queen's University Press, ISBN 9780773538245.

A monumental work detailing how Canada created a very large and impressive industry to build ships during the Second World War from a very meager industry at the begining. This amazing history details the personalities and the government interactions in creating a major industry to meet the needs of the nation whose navy grew to the third largest in the world. The stories include the local region of Kingston and Trenton where shipbuilidng took place.

The author, a member of the Society and professor emeritus of history, Queen's University, adds this achievement to previous books and to his recent article The Beaver and the Bear which received the "Keith Matthews Award for Best Article published in 2010", Northern Mariner Vol. XX, No. 2.

Before 1939, Canada's shipbuilding industry had been moribund for nearly two decades - no steel-hulled, ocean-going vessel had been built since 1921. During the Second World War, however, Canada's shipbuilding program became a major part of the nation's industrial effort. Shipyards were expanded and more than a thousand warships and cargo ships were constructed as well as many more thousands of auxiliary vessels, small boats, and other craft. A large ship-repair program also began.

In A Bridge of Ships James Pritchard tells the story of the rapidly changing circumstances and forceful personalities that shaped government shipbuilding policy. He examines the ownership and expansion of the shipyards and the role of ship repairing, as well as recruitment and training of the labour force. He also tells the story of the struggle for steel and the expansion of ancillary industries. Pritchard provides a definitive picture of Canada's wartime ship production, assesses the cost (more than $1.2 billion), and explains why such an enormous effort left such a short-lived legacy.

The story of Canada's shipbuilding industry is as astonishing as that of the nation's wartime navy. The personnel of both expanded more than fifty times, yet the history of wartime shipbuilding remains virtually unknown. With the disappearance of the Canadian shipbuilding industry from both the land and memory, it is time to recall and assess its contribution to Allied victory.


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