Obituary for Arthur McLaren
Allied Shipbuilders founder built 257 vessels, from ferries to fishboats
Arthur McLaren, who founded Allied Shipbuilders Ltd. 50 years ago this month and built ships in British Columbia for 58 years, has died aged 79.
The last ship built by Allied for British Columbia Ferry Corp. was the loo-vehicle Century Class ferry MV Skeena Queen, which Mr. McLaren noted proudly at its launch on Jan. 17,1997, was delivered on time and on budget for $21.6-million. It was the seventh vessel for BC Ferries built at Allied in 39 years.
Thomas Arthur MeLaren was born into a shipbuilding family in Montrose, Scotland. There is,a photo at the Vancouver Maritime Museum Of Arthur, then a child, taken with his father, William, at the launch of Lady Alexandra, built for Vancouver's Union Steamship Co. A few years later, when his father's yard went bankrupt, the family followed the Lady Alex to Vancouver.
At the age of eight, when most boys were reading comics, Mr.McLaren buried his nose for hours in a 1923 edition of Lloyds Register of Shipping.
He got an engineering degree at the University of British Columbia in 1941 and taught himself naval archtecture. ?I borrowed a book from Vancouver Public Library, Atwood's Naval Architecture, published in 1899,? he told a reporter on the occasion of his 40th anniversary as a shipbuilder. 'I had it out for three years.?
His first job was as an apprentice at Vancouver Iron Works, working on the boiler shop for 18.75 cents a hour. It was the early days of the Second World War
and the owners, hoping to win shipbuilding contracts, set up West Coast Shipbuilders at the east end of False Creek. Mr. Mclarens?s father was hired to run it and he was dispatched from the boiler shop to join him.
On Feb. 1 1949, at the age of 29, he started Allied Shipbuilders Ltd. on land leased from his former employer.
?The best friends I had were bank managers,? he recalled. "They wouldn?t lend me any money, so I didn?t get into trouble."
Over six decades, Mr. McLaren, later joined at Allied by his three sons, designed ferries and freighters, fishing boats, tugs, and barges and once even a floating brewery.
But of all the boats built at Allied only one was ever launched by Dorothy McLaren, his wife of 55 years, and that was a floating drydock, built for Allied. "It was kind of a family joke,? he once recalled. "We kidded her a lot: What are you going to say? 'God bless this drydock and all who sail in her. 'But we had the bottle of champagne ready, the whole bit, and when it came to it, she said a nice thing. She said, 'l name you Allied 208 and hope you provide lots of employment for North Vancouver.'
Inside the drydock, so as not to waste space, a fishboat had been built - atypical McLaren innovation - and they were put into the water together.
"My wife launched the drydock. Then we sank the drydock and the other guy's wife launched the fishboat. We had a good time.?
Under Mr. McLaren?s direction, Allied built 257 vessels up to 10,000 deadweight tons, many of which he designed.
?He was a very clever man, a very intelligent person, who was involved in many facets of the industry,? said George Fryatt, owner of the former Bel-Aire Shipyard Ltd., of North Vancouver.
?He did a good job and created quite a dynasty, having three sons. He left behind some very capable boys, but it's to take the lot of them to fill their father's shoes.?
He leaves wife, Dorothy, sons James, Douglas, and Malcolm; five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
-Alan Daniels, The Vancouver Sun