The history of shipbuilding in the Sorel region began in the 18th century. This industry peaked during World War II (1939-1945), when thousands of workers were employed at Marine Industries Limited, a company founded in 1937 by the Simard brothers, three sons of a navigator from Baie-Saint-Paul.

The eldest brother, Joseph, moved to Sorel in 1909. Eight years later, he purchased a workshop, Les Chantiers Manseau Limited, and went into business repairing, maintaining and building dredges. His brother Édouard joined him in Sorel in 1927. They were able to obtain a lucrative contract to dredge a shipping channel between Montreal and Quebec. The third brother, Ludger, joined the family business in 1931. Together, they purchased the shipyard from the government in 1937; this was the official beginning of Marine Industries Limited.

This company, based on the west bank of the Richelieu not far from the St. Lawrence, played a central role in the regional economy for many decades. The shipyard was one of Canada’s most important shipbuilding centres.

During World War II, the shipyard was open 24 hours a day. It operated at a frenetic pace, taking as little as a week to build an entire Liberty Ship.

Marine Industries delivered 30 Liberty ships to the Royal Canadian Navy, as well as many minesweepers, light frigates, barges to transport troops and equipment, and fleet oilers.

After the war, Marine Industries Limited diversified its production, building ferries, icebreakers, and oil tankers.

The "Sir William Alexander" was the last ship built entirely at the Marine Industrie Limitée (in French since that time) shipyard, in 1987. It was intended for the Canadian Coast Guard.

The Ludger-Simard regional industrial park mainly houses companies in the metallurgy and environmental technology industries. It is located on the former site of Marine Industrie Limitée, which shut down completely in 1991.

© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans