Canadian Vickers

Canadian Vickers Limited was an aircraft and shipbuilding company that operated in Canada during the early part of the 20th century until 1944. A subsidiary of the UK parent, it built its own aircraft designs as well as others under licence. Canadair absorbed the Canadian Vickers Ltd. aircraft operations in November 1944.

Canadian Vickers Limited
Fateaircraft division absorbed into Canadair in 1944
SuccessorCanadair and Versatile Vickers (using Canadian Vickers as brand only)
Defunct1944 (aircraft operations)
1990 (rail car operations, as Versatile Vickers)
HeadquartersMontreal, Quebec, Canada
ParentVickers Limited


HMS H4 Brindisi 1916 IWM SP 578
The British H-class submarine HMS H4 at Brindisi in August 1916
HMCS Armentières E-032
The Battle-class trawler HMCS Armentières

In 1907 British shipbuilding and weapons manufacturing conglomerate Vickers Sons & Maxim began investigating possible locations for a shipyard in Montreal.[1] Vickers Sons & Maxim intended to use the shipyard as a repair facility for transatlantic shipping traffic entering Montreal.[2] Vickers Sons & Maxim was invited by the Government of Canada in 1911 to establish a Canadian division to manufacture vessels for the nascent Royal Canadian Navy. According to naval historian Marc Milner, "the Harbour Commission and the city of Maisonneuve offered Vickers a first-class location" to establish the yard, and "an extended lease on the land and deferred taxes."[3] Vickers Sons & Maxim established Canadian Vickers Ltd. in June 1911 and constructed the shipyard between Rue Notre-Dame and the St. Lawrence River.[1] Canadian Vickers ordered the construction of a large floating drydock, which was opened in 1912.[1][3] Due to the establishment of Canadian Vickers, Montreal became one of Canada's leading shipbuilding centres.[1] The shipyard's first full year of operation was 1914, a year marked by the beginning of the First World War.[2]

During the First World War the yard assembled American-designed Holland 602 type submarines on behalf of the British Royal Navy.[4] The hulls were Canadian-built, but the machinery and equipment were American. They were known as the British H-class submarine in the Royal Navy and were the first submarines to cross the Atlantic Ocean under their own power. Canadian Vickers (along with Polson Iron Works of Toronto) also constructed the first vessels specifically designed for the Royal Canadian Navy, the Battle-class naval trawlers.[5]

  • H1 – Launched May 1915
  • H2 – Launched June 1915
  • H3 – Launched June 1915. Mined and sunk July 1916
  • H4 – Launched June 1915
  • H5 – Launched June 1915. Rammed and sunk March 1918
  • H6 – Launched June 1915. Interned and purchased by the Dutch January 1916
  • H7 – Launched June 1915
  • H8 – Launched June 1915
  • H9 – Launched June 1915
  • H10 – Launched June 1915. Disappeared 1918

This shipyard would go on to produce many civilian and military ships in Canada, including:

Canadian Vickers also manufactured luxury yachts and vessels that were later converted as yachts:

  • Bart Roberts – built in 1963 as icebreaker and converted as a yacht in 2001[6]
  • Club Atlantic – motor yacht built in 1967[7]
  • Christina O – built in 1943 as HMCS Stormont (K327) and converted as yacht in 1954;[8] renamed as Christina in 1954, Argo in 1978 and current named in 1998

Following the First World War, labour militancy grew within Quebec. In June 1919, Canadian Vickers workers led labour action in Montreal as part of larger strike actions within the shipbuilding industry. The labour strike was a result of demands for maximum 8-hour shifts. Employees of Canadian Vickers coordinated with other work forces in Montreal, though shortly after it began, disagreements over a general strike led the labour action to falter.[9] The end of the First World War also saw a reduction of shipping orders and increased competition among shipbuilders. This led to consolidation among shipyards and Canadian Vickers' parent company, Vickers merged with Armstrong Whitworth to form Vickers-Armstrongs. In 1926, Frank Ross of Montreal Dry Dock Limited and two business partners sought to acquire Canadian Vickers from its parent company. Negotiations began in March and were agreed to in November. In 1928, Ross merged Montreal Dry Dock Ltd. with Canadian Vickers. During the 1930s, the yard survived the Great Depression with repair contracts and constructing manufacturing turbines and structural steel.[10]

The shipyard was reacquired by Vickers in 1956.[11] It was renamed Vickers Canada Limited in 1978 after being sold to Canadian interests and renamed several times again by the last owners Marine Industries, eventually (as Versatile Vickers Inc[12][13] in 1981 and MIL Vickers in 1987). Shipbuiding operations ceased by 1988.[11]


Canadian Vickers ventured into aircraft manufacturing in 1923 when it won a contract to supply Vickers Viking flying boats to the recently formed Canadian Air Force (Royal Canadian Air Force from 1924). Between 1923 and 1944, Canadian Vickers produced over 400 aircraft, some of which were original Vickers' designs while the remainder were other manufacturers' designs built under license.

Consolidated.Vickers OA-10A VP-KKJ BLA 05.06.53 edited-2
This Canadian Vickers OA-10A operated in several countries postwar as a utility transport, including Hong Kong, Sweden and Kenya
Pbv-1a canso flying boat g-pbya arp
Canadian Vickers PBV-1A Canso A at RIAT, England in 2009. A version of the PBY-5A Catalina, this aircraft was built in 1944 for the Royal Canadian Air Force
Vickers Vedette
A Vickers Vedette replica at the Western Canada Aviation Museum, Winnipeg, Manitoba
The last MR-63 cars
A Canadian Vickers MR-63 car on its last day in service in the Montreal Metro.

In July 1941, the Canadian government awarded Canadian Vickers a contract to produce PBV-1 "Canso" amphibians (a version of the Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat) for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Many of the aircraft were delivered to the United States Navy as the PBV-1; also to the United States Army Air Forces as the OA-10A for rescue work.

To speed Canso production, the government authorized construction of a new manufacturing facility at Cartierville Airport in Ville Saint Laurent, on the north-western outskirts of Montreal, and appointed Canadian Vickers to manage the plant's operation on the government's behalf. Independently Boeing also produced Catalinas in Canada.

In 1944, business pressure compelled Canadian Vickers to ask the government to relieve it of its management responsibilities regarding the Cartierville plant. Ottawa agreed and entered into a management contract with Canadair Limited, a new company founded by a small group of former senior Canadian Vickers personnel headed by Benjamin W. Franklin (no relation to his famous namesake). On 4 November 1944, Canadair Limited took over operation of the plant. In September 1946, Canadair Limited and the plant were acquired by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut.

In 1952, Electric Boat bought Consolidated Vultee and combined it, Canadair, and several smaller companies to form General Dynamics Corporation. General Dynamics later became one of the largest U.S. aerospace corporations. Canadair remained a General Dynamics subsidiary until January 1976 when it was re-acquired by the Canadian government.

In December 1986, the government again sold Canadair, this time to Bombardier Inc., a Quebec-based international conglomerate. Today, Canadair itself no longer exists as a separate entity having been absorbed into Bombardier Aerospace.

Canadian Vickers aircraft designs

License production

Other aircraft work

Unbuilt aircraft

For aircraft built after 1944, those aircraft were built under the Canadair name.


Versatile Vickers used the Canadian former Vickers plant briefly to build rail cars in the 1960s and 1970s during the period of turmoil at the shipyard in Montreal. The rail car products were mostly built under contract, or licensed from other rail car builders or as joint production efforts (such as the MR-63 subway cars for the Montreal Metro with technical support from CIMT-Lorraine which also designed the rubber-tired system for some of the Paris Métro lines). In 1979 Vickers name was changed from Canadian Vickers Ltd. to Vickers Canada, Inc. following the purchase of its shares by the Canadian management from the British holding company. In 1981 the name was again changed to Versatile Vickers, Inc. Versatile Vickers went out of business in 1990.

1963–1967 MR-63 subway cars built for the Montreal Metro which opened in 1966, and were based on GEC Alsthom's MP 59 trains for the Paris Metro. Retired 2016–2018.
1969 Commuter Cab car (Bi-level "Town Car" coaches and gallery cars) built as a variant of the Pullman Company Gallery coaches for the Canadian Pacific Railway's Montreal suburban service; later re-classified as AMT 900 series cars.[14] Rebuilt early 2000s and now retired.
1972–1977, Car shells supplied by Canadian Vickers or the Budd Company for General Electric for Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Connecticut Department of Transportation M2 railcars.
1980 PATCO II railcars were manufactured by Canadian Vickers under a license from the Budd Company for the Port Authority Transit Corporation.

See also



  1. ^ a b c d Linteau 1985, p. 84
  2. ^ a b Pritchard 2011, p. 51
  3. ^ a b Milner 2002, p. 24
  4. ^ Milner 2002, p. 46
  5. ^ Boutiller 1982, pp. 99–100
  6. ^ Fleet, Yacht Charter. "BART ROBERTS Yacht – Canadian Vickers – Yacht Charter Fleet". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  7. ^ "CLUB ATLANTIC a Motor Yacht by Canadian Vickers Shipyards – Charter World Luxury Yachts and Superyachts". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  8. ^ "CHRISTINA O a Motor Yacht by Canadian Vickers Shipyards – Charter World Luxury Yachts and Superyachts". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  9. ^ Heron 1998, pp. 110–13
  10. ^ Pritchard 2011, pp. 49, 51–52
  11. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-02-28. Retrieved 2011-02-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2010-02-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Proc, Jerry. "Halifax Class Frigates". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  14. ^ Gryfe, Alan (November 30, 2001). "Montréal Rail Roster". Transit Canada. Retrieved April 30, 2013.


  • Boutiller, James A., ed. (1982). RCN in Retrospect, 1910–1968. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. ISBN 0-7748-0196-4.
  • Campbell, Patrick J. (2006). At the End of the Final Line – A Brief History of Aircraft Manufacturing at Canadian Vickers and Canadair from 1923 to 1984. Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec: Shoreline. ISBN 1-896754-49-X.
  • Heron, Craig, ed. (1998). The Workers' Revolt in Canada, 1917–1925. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-8082-0.
  • Linteau, Paul-Andre (1985). The Promoters' City: Building the Industrial Town of Maisonneuve 1883–1918. Translated by Robert Chodos. Toronto: James Lorimer & Company. ISBN 0-88862-782-3.
  • Larry, Milberry (1979). Aviation in Canada. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd. ISBN 0-07-082778-8.
  • Milner, Marc (2010). Canada's Navy: The First Century (Second ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-9604-3.
  • Pritchard, James (2011). A Bridge of Ships: Canadian Shipbuilding during the Second World War. Montreal, Quebec and Kingston, Ontario: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 978-0-7735-3824-5.
Canadian Vickers Vancouver

The Canadian Vickers Vancouver was a Canadian transport/patrol flying boat of the 1930s built by Canadian Vickers.

It was a twin-engine, equal-span biplane. The hull was of metal and the rest of the structure of fabric-covered wood.

Canadian Vickers Vanessa

The Canadian Vickers Vanessa was a Canadian biplane transport seaplane of the 1920s. It was a single-engine, twin-float biplane of mixed construction, evaluated by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)and used for experimental air-mail services..

Canadian Vickers Varuna

The Canadian Vickers Varuna was a Canadian flying boat of the 1920s built by Canadian Vickers as a twin-engined, unequal-span biplane, with a wooden hull and steel tube structure.

Canadian Vickers Vedette

The Canadian Vickers Vedette was the first aircraft in Canada designed and built to meet a specification for Canadian conditions. It was a single-engine biplane flying boat purchased to meet a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) demand for a smaller aircraft than the Vickers Viking with a much greater rate of climb, to be suitable for forestry survey and fire protection work. The type went on to have a long and distinguished career in civil operations in Canada. Most of the topographical maps in use in Canada today are based on photos taken from these aircraft.

Canadian Vickers Velos

The Canadian Vickers Velos was a 1927 Canadian twin-engined float-equipped sesquiplane designed and built by Canadian Vickers Limited. Designed for survey work, it proved difficult to fly and only one was built.

Canadian Vickers Vigil

The Canadian Vickers Vigil was a single-seat patrol aircraft designed to meet a Royal Canadian Air Force requirement for a forest fire patrol aircraft.

Canadian Vickers Vista

The Canadian Vickers Vista was a Canadian-designed single-seat flying boat.

Consolidated PBY Catalina

The Consolidated PBY Catalina, also known as the Canso in Canadian service, is an American flying boat, and later an amphibious aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft. It was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations.

During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escort, search and rescue missions (especially air-sea rescue), and cargo transport. The PBY was the most numerous aircraft of its kind, and the last military PBYs served until the 1980s. As of 2014, nearly 80 years after its first flight, the aircraft continues to fly as a waterbomber (or airtanker) in aerial firefighting operations in some parts of the world.

Fokker Super Universal

The Fokker Super Universal was an airliner produced in the United States in the late 1920s, an enlarged and improved version of the Fokker Universal, fitted with cantilever wings and an enclosed cockpit. It was subsequently also manufactured under license in Canada, and in Japan as the Nakajima-Fokker Super Universal and for the IJAAF as the Nakajima Ki-6 and later in the puppet state of Manchukuo as the Manshū Super Universal.

Grumman F6F Hellcat

The Grumman F6F Hellcat is an American carrier-based fighter aircraft of World War II. Designed to replace the earlier F4F Wildcat and to counter the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero, it was the United States Navy's dominant fighter in the second half of the Pacific War. The Hellcat competed with the faster Vought F4U Corsair for that role and prevailed, as the Corsair had significant issues with carrier landings. The Corsair, instead, was primarily deployed to great effect in land-based use by the U.S. Marine Corps.

Powered by a 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp, the same powerplant used for both the Corsair and the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighters, the F6F was an entirely new design, but it still resembled the Wildcat in many ways. Some military observers tagged the Hellcat as the "Wildcat's big brother".The F6F made its combat debut in September 1943, and was best known for its role as a rugged, well-designed carrier fighter, which was able to outperform the A6M Zero and help secure air superiority over the Pacific theater. A total of 12,275 were built in just over two years.Hellcats were credited with destroying a total of 5,223 enemy aircraft while in service with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. This was more than any other Allied naval aircraft. Postwar, the Hellcat was phased out of front-line service, but remained in service as late as 1954 as a night fighter.

HMCS Longueuil (K672)

HMCS Longueuil was a River-class frigate that served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. She served primarily as a convoy escort in the Battle of the Atlantic. She was named for Longueuil, Quebec.

Longueuil was ordered in October 1941 as part of the 1942-1943 River-class building program. She was laid down on 17 July 1943 by Canadian Vickers Ltd. at Montreal and launched on 30 October 1943. Longueuil was commissioned into the RCN at Quebec City on 18 May 1944 with the pennant K672.

HMCS Poundmaker

HMCS Poundmaker was a River-class frigate that served with the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. It saw action as a convoy escort during the Battle of the Atlantic. She was named for the Poundmaker Cree Nation of Saskatchewan. After the war she was sold to Peru and renamed Teniente Ferré in 1947.

Poundmaker was ordered on 1 February 1943 as part of the 1943–1944 River-class building program. She was laid down on 29 January 1944 by Canadian Vickers Ltd. at Montreal, Quebec and launched on 21 April later that year. She was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy on 17 September 1944 at Montreal.


HMS H4 was a British H-class submarine built by the Canadian Vickers Co., Montreal. She was laid down on 11 January 1915 and was commissioned on 5 June 1915. After her commissioning, HMS H4 and sister ships H1, H2 and H3 crossed the Atlantic from St. John's, Newfoundland to Gibraltar being escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Calgarian. H4 sank the U-boat UB-52 in the Adriatic on 23 May 1918. She was sold on 30 November 1921 in Malta.

List of River-class frigates

The River class was a ship class of British-designed frigates built and operated during World War II. One hundred and fifty-one frigates were built, and these were operated by seven different nations during the war.

Northrop Delta

The Northrop Delta was an American single-engined passenger transport aircraft of the 1930s. Closely related to Northrop's Gamma mail plane, 13 were produced by the Northrop Corporation, followed by 19 aircraft built under license by Canadian Vickers Limited.

Supermarine Stranraer

The Supermarine Stranraer was a 1930s flying boat designed and built by the British Supermarine Aviation Works company principally for the Royal Air Force. It entered operations in 1937 and many were in service at the outbreak of the Second World War undertaking anti-submarine and convoy escort patrols. It was withdrawn from operational service in March 1941 but continued to serve in a training capacity until October 1942. In addition to the British-built aeroplanes, the Canadian Vickers company in Montreal, Quebec, built 40 Stranraers under licence for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The RCAF Stranraers served in anti-submarine and coastal defence capacities on both Canada's Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and remained in service until 1946. Following their withdrawal from military service, many Canadian Stranraers were sold off to fledgeling regional airlines and they served in commercial passenger and freighter operation well into the 1950s.


Viauville is a Montreal neighbourhood in the borough of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Established in 1892 as a result of an urban plan made by Charles-Théodore Viau and the former city of Maisonneuve, and part of the aforementioned city, Viauville never obtained municipality status.Viauville is named for Charles-Théodore Viau, a member of the paroisse Saint-Clément and founder of the biscuiterie Viau.

The area was home to Canadian Vickers Maisonville Shipyards, now Port of Montreal berths.


Vickers-Armstrongs Limited was a British engineering conglomerate formed by the merger of the assets of Vickers Limited and Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Company in 1927. The majority of the company was nationalised in the 1960s and 1970s, with the remainder being divested as Vickers plc in 1977.

Vickers Viking

The Vickers Viking was a British single-engine amphibious aircraft designed for military use shortly after World War I. Later versions of the aircraft were known as the Vickers Vulture and Vickers Vanellus.

Canadian Vickers aircraft
Canadian Vickers
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