At the outset of the Second World War in 1939, Canada’s ocean-going merchant fleet amounted to 38 vessels. By war’s end in 1945, Canadian shipyards had delivered more than 400 merchant ships, an astounding achievement made all the more impressive given that the country’s shipbuilding industry was equally occupied in manufacturing thousands of naval vessels, including escort ships, minesweepers, tugs and landing craft.

The majority of merchant ships built in Canada for the war’s emergency shipbuilding program each had a capacity to deliver 10,000 tons of cargo. This volume was equivalent to enough provisions to feed 225,000 people for a week!

The ‘parks’ and ‘forts’ freighters were generally built following the model of Britain’s “North Sands” ships, an outdated model but one that could be assembled quickly. Painted in the colour of “Admiralty Grey,” these vessels were deployed the world over.

Today, very little remains of the vessels themselves, while the shipyards in which they were constructed have undergone substantial transformations since their bustling heyday of the Second World War. Nevertheless, the heroic stories of the men and women who built these ships and those who courageously served aboard them live on in the communities where these ships were constructed, together with several monuments dedicated to the memory of the merchant marine.


See a selection of merchant ships:

S.S. Avondale Park
  • Builder: Foundation Maritime Ltd., Pictou, Nova Scotia
  • Completion date: May 1944
H.M.C.S. Cape Breton
  • Builder: Burrard Dry Dock Company Limited, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Completion date: May 2, 1945
S.S. Fort Anne
  • Builder: Burrard Dry Dock Company Limited, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Completion date: December 24, 1942
S.S. Fort Beausejour
  • Builder: Marine Industries Limited, Sorel, Quebec
  • Completion date: November 20, 1943
S.S. Fort Langley
  • Builder: Victoria Machinery Depot Ltd., Victoria, British Columbia
  • Completion date: May 18, 1945
S.S. Fort Louisbourg
  • Builder: Canadian Vickers Limited, Montreal, Quebec
  • Completion date: April 27, 1942
S.S. Fort St. James
  • Builder: Burrard Dry Dock Company Ltd., North Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Completion date: January 29, 1942
S.S. Kootenay Park
  • Builder: Burrard Dry Dock Company Ltd., North Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Completion date: October 6, 1944
S.S. Point Pleasant Park
  • Builder: Davie Shipbuilding & Repairing Company Limited, Lauzon, Quebec
  • Completion date: November 8, 1943
S.S. Rockwood Park
  • Builder: Saint John Dry Dock Company Limited, St. John, New Brunswick
  • Completion date: February 15, 1943
S.S. Yoho Park
  • Builder: North Van Ship Repairs Ltd., North Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Completion date: July 22, 1944

Parks Canada national historic forts and national parks that have namesake merchant vessels

These vessels contributed to securing Allied victory in 1945, a legacy for which Parks Canada is proud to associate with our natural and cultural treasures.

Nova Scotia

Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Vessel Name Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Cape Breton

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Fort Anne Fort Anne National Historic Site
Fortress of Louisbourg

Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site

Prince Edward Island

Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Vessel Name Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Green Gables Park

Part of L.M. Montgomery's Cavendish National Historic Site within Prince Edward Island National Park

New Brunswick

Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Vessel Name Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Fort Beausejour

Fort Beausejour - Fort Cumberland National Historic Site

Quebec

Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Vessel Name Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Fort Chambly

Fort Chambly National Historic Site

Fort Lennox Fort Lennox National Historic Site
Montmorency Park

Montmorency Park National Historic Site

Ontario

Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Vessel Name Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Fort George

Fort George National Historic Site

Fort St. Joseph

Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site

Fort Wellington Fort Wellington National Historic Site
Point Pelee Park

Point Pelee National Park

Manitoba

Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Vessel Name Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Riding Mountain Park

Riding Mountain National Park

Saskatchewan

Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Vessel Name Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Fort Livingstone

Fort Livingstone National Historic Site

Fort Walsh

Fort Walsh National Historic Site

Prince Albert Park

Prince Albert National Park

Alberta

Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Vessel Name Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Banff Park

Banff National Park

Buffalo Park

Thought to be an abbreviation for Wood Buffalo National Park, or could reference Buffalo National Park in existence from 1909-1947

Elk Island Park Elk Island National Park
Jasper Park Jasper National Park
Rocky Mountain Park

Relates to Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site

British Columbia

Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Vessel Name Associated National Park or National Historic Site Administered by Parks Canada
Fort Langley

Fort Langley National Historic Site

Fort St. James

Fort St. James National Historic Site

Glacier Park Glacier National Park
Kootenay Park Kootenay National Park
Mount Revelstoke Park Mount Revelstoke National Park
Yoho Park

Yoho National Park