Naval Shipyards, York (Upper Canada)

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Naval Shipyards, York
York, Upper Canada
Type Shipyard
Site information
Controlled by Royal Navy
Site history
Built 1793–1798
In use 1790s – 1813
Battles/wars Battle of York 1813
Garrison information
Garrison Fort York

Naval Shipyards, York (Upper Canada) was one of the shipyards of the Royal Navy on Lake Ontario. The yards was called for by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe in 1793 [1] and operated from 1798 long before the town of York was populated and up to the War of 1812. The yard was on the western edge of the town (east of the Fort Rouille) and located south of Front Street on the shores of Lake Ontario west of Bay Street (today the rail tracks south of Union Station). Ships were built along the sand shores using the trees from the forests inland and launched into Toronto Bay. While shipbuilding resumed in York (and later in Toronto), the naval yards did not build any other navy ships after 1813 and abandoned and likely moved to a safer and more protected location in Kingston Royal Naval Dockyard.

The yard built a few ships:

  • Toronto - schooner 1813 and wrecked 1817
  • HMS Prince Regent - schooner launched 1812 and renamed HMS Beresford in 1813, as HMS Netley 1814 and finally base ship HMS Niagara; broken up 1843
  • HMS Isaac Brock - incomplete frigate 1813

Early Private builders[edit]

Cooper's Wharf slip was another early 19th century shipbuilder in Toronto and remained in operations until 1845.

Numerous builders at mouth of Rouge River 1810-1856 [2]


Shipbuilding in Toronto did re-emerge years later, but it was all in private hands[3] :

  • Polson Iron Works 1883 - shipyard built at Frederick Street 1883 and ceased operations at end of World War I
  • Doty Engine Works 1890 new shipyard at Lakeshore and Spadina
  • Bertram Engineering Works 1893 Doty yard changes owners
  • Canadian Shipbuilding Company 1905 - acquired Bertram site but company fails by 1908
  • Toronto Shipyards 1908 - took over from Canadian Shipbuilding and remains in operations until 1910
  • Thor Iron Works 1913 - acquire vacant Toronto Shipyards
  • Dominion Shipbuilding and Repair Company Limited 1917 - renamed from Thor and operated a both Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street as well as Keating Channel building mostly cargo ships for Canadian and overseas buyers as well as yacht Oriole IV which later became HMCS Oriole; folded 1920 after strike with last two ships completed by Collingwood Shipyards


Shipbuilding activity remained dormant (other than Toronto Drydock Company) until the start of World War II with demand for war ships:[4]

  • Dufferin Shipbuilding Company 1940 - acquires Keating Channel site from the former Dominion Shipbuilding site
  • Toronto Shipbuilding Company 1941 - renamed from Dufferin after take over by the Canadian government
  • Redfern Construction Co., Ltd 1943 - renamed from Toronto Shipbuilding and closed 1945

See also[edit]

  • Toronto Drydock Company - a series of companies that built ships from 1847 to 1964 (sole shipbuilder after 1945) and since 1989 as ship repair facility.