The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Ironshipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers in Canada are one of this county’s oldest labour organizations. There are approximately 13,000 members represented in every province and territory. The Canadian boilermakers are members of 33 different union locals across Canada. The specialized trade covers a broad and diverse group of industries that include shipbuilding and repair, nuclear and utility industries, petrochemical, pulp and paper, and oil and gas sectors. Our trades build and repair boilers, tanks and pressure vessels, ships ferries, barges, submarines and other large scale marine projects.
Who are our Members?
Our Members are ordinary working Canadian men and women who work as welders, fabricators, boilermakers, fiberglassers and insulators.
They form our union.
What do we do?
The members of Lodge 191 primarily work in two industries; the shipbuilding and repair industry in the manufacturing of logging equipment. Some members of 191 travel to other Boilermaker union locals and work in the construction industry.
Our members build and repair all types of marine vessels such as navy frigates and submarines. Deep sea vessels including tankers, freighters, bulk carriers and cruise ships. We also work on coastal ferries, barges and tugs.
Our Members at Nicholson Manufacturing build a variety of machinery including yarders chippers and debarkers for the logging industry.
The three major employers of Lodge 191 are:
- HMCS Dockyard FMF – Esquimalt
- Nicholson Manufacturing Ltd. – Sidney
- Victoria Shipyard Ltd. – Esquimalt
The first organizational effort among boilermakers in British Columbia occurred in the City of Victoria that resulted in the chartering of Lodge 191 on January 29, 1898. The Yukon Gold Rush made Victoria rather prosperous, some of this business rubbed off on the members with the building of boilers and steamers for this trade. When this trade died off, the whaling fleet, using the facilities available in Victoria, provided employment for the early boilermakers.
During World War One, Victoria Machinery Depot Co. Ltd, built freighters for the Canadian Government. Minimum rate of wages for Boilermakers and Shipbuilders were 50¢ per hour. Yarrows Limited built a number of wooden-hulled steam-driven sternwheelers for service on the Irrawaddy River in Burma. Heavy unemployment struck in the early 1920’s and the membership dropped to the point where the Charter lapsed in 1923 and was reinstated in 1925.
On February 1, 1930, the Boilermakers affiliated with the All-Canadian Congress of Labour and became Local #2 – Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders of Canada with 19 members paying an initiation fee of $1. Lodge 191 was still in existence at this time, as the Charter never lapsed until 1944, but unfortunately, there were no records available for this period to give us an inkling as to its activities. A collective agreement which was in effect at the Victoria Machinery Depot Co. Ltd, in 1940 shows the Boilermakers were paid 90¢ an hour.
Early in 1945, a rift broke out between the Boilermakers Local #2 and its parent body, the Canadian Congress of Labour and there was talk of disaffiliation. The dissention was actually aimed more at the newly formed Shipyard General Workers Federation than the Canadian Congress of Labour. A vote took place and the result of the balloting favoured disaffiliation. The Local then turned to the Trades and Labour Council who issued a Charter calling the new organization, the Victoria Shipyard Workers Federal Union, Local #238.
In 1951, Local 238 had a strike situation on its hands and the members were in need of strike benefits. Local 238 committee members met with two officials of the Boilermakers Brotherhood regarding the re-affiliation with the Brotherhood. On October 4, 1951, a special meeting was called to discuss the matter of re-affiliation thoroughly and a vote was taken. The members of the Victoria Shipyard Workers’ Federal Union Local #238 made the decision to return to the Brotherhood after an absence of 21 years. This action led to the return of the Local to the Brotherhood and Lodge 191’s Charter was reinstated on October 23, 1951.
We currently have contract work with the Pacific fleet renewal program for the Canadian Navy, Outfit & Fabrication of new off shore Vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard, Renewal of the Canadian Submarine Fleet for the Canadian Navy, LNG conversions for TOTE marine, ANZAC program for the New Zealand Navy, Production of logging equipment & steel structures etc.