Company Achieves Century of Engineering Feats – Port Alberni Valley News


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Canadian Maritime Engineering is one of the oldest forest industry companies in the Alberni Valley.

Canadian Maritime Engineering, or CME, began as the Alberni Engineering Works, founded shortly after World War I on Bird Street across from the station, where it still stands today. Fred Bacon started the business with a blacksmith and assistant, and quickly made boatbuilding his specialty as well as general engineering, according to historian Jan Peterson in his book. Twin Cities: Alberni — Port Alberni. The company has undergone several name changes from Alberni Engineering and Shipyard Ltd. at Alberni Engineering and, more recently, at CME.

“For decades, the forestry industry has been a big part of our business here,” said Steve Dunagan, MEC director responsible for business development at the Port Alberni branch. “These are our long-time customers because we build vessels specifically for the forestry industry, such as sidewinders, bulldozers, and small harbor tugs (tugs).

“Every mill, every booming land, every type of arid area needs ships to support this part of its work. We have been working since the early 1930s to develop boats specifically for this industry, then to be inspired by them as they have evolved into what they are today.

Historical photos exist showing ships in various states of construction in the middle of Harbor Road, which in the 1930s and 1940s was still a dirt road. Dunagan said the company’s photo archive is a treasure trove of engineering feats.

“Fishing and forestry would have been their two main clients at the time,” he added.

Technology has evolved over the years, as has the business. Their focus on customers has not been: fishing and forestry, and now mining, are still the mainstays. The business has evolved with industries as needed.

There are only three companies on the west coast of British Columbia that build some of the ships needed for the forestry industry, including CME. The company from Port Alberni takes care of the maintenance of all the forestry vessels located in the port of Alberni as they are the only ones capable of drying the ships (putting them in dry dock).

“We have three of their boats (Western Forest Products) for maintenance and routine maintenance,” Dunagan said.

CME is also building nine new boats for the forestry industry.

Over the years, they have learned to be efficient at building boats, building several at a time instead of one at a time.

“Now they’re very standardized and we produce them like an automotive (assembly) line, really. “

There are ships built by CME located all along the North American coast, from the Pacific Northwest south to Alaska, and throughout British Columbia. They recently delivered seven to a company in Mackenzie, BC.

Today, CME is building ships for its new hire and leasing business to accommodate small factories and businesses that cannot necessarily afford to buy theirs.

With all the new business, CME has grown. “Over the past two years, we have doubled our staff to meet demand,” said Dunagan.

Alberniforesterie Valley

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