Park ship

Park ships were merchant steamships constructed for Canada’s Merchant Navy during the Second World War. Park ships and Fort ships (built in Canada for operation by the British) were the Canadian equivalent of the American Liberty ships. All three shared a similar design by J.L. Thompson and Sons of Sunderland, England. Fort ships had a triple expansion steam engine and a single screw propellor. Fort ships were ships transferred to the British Government and the Park ships were those employed by the Canadian Government, both had the similar design. Park ships were named after local and National Parks of Canada. A few Park ships were launched as "Camp ships", named after Canada military camps, but were quickly renamed after Parks. Jasper Park was first Park ship lost to enemy attack, in the Indian Ocean after a torpedo attack from U-177 in the Indian Ocean, South of Durban, South Africa.[2][3][4][5]

Launch of SS Ashby Park at the Pictou Shipyard in 1944
General characteristics Park Ship
Length: 440 ft 0 in (134.11 m)
Beam: 57 ft 0 in (17.37 m)
Depth: 22 ft 9 in (6.93 m)
Installed power: Triple expansion steam engine
Propulsion: Screw propellor
Crew: 34, plus 4 DEMS gunners

Park Steamship CompanyEdit

The Allied merchant fleet suffered significant losses in the early years of the Battle of the Atlantic as a result of U-boat attacks. The Park Steamship Company was created by the Canadian government on April 8, 1942 to oversee construction of a merchant fleet to help replace the lost vessels and to administer the movement of materiel. This was part of a coordinated Allied effort that saw the construction of British, American and Canadian merchant ships using a common class of vessel known as the North Sands class (named after a beach near the J. L Thompson yard on the River Wear).[6][7]


Plaque commemorating the Canadian Merchant Navy.

Over the next three years, the company ordered approximately 160 bulk cargo ships and 20 tankers that would all fly the Canadian flag. Ships at 10,000 tons deadweight were known as Park class. Smaller vessels, at a nominal 4,700 tons, were at first designated Grey class but were later called Park ships as well and were commonly known as the 4700 tonner Park ships. All the Park ships were powered by coal driven steam engines. All but two vessels launched were named for federal, provincial or municipal parks in Canada. Some were armed with bow guns and anti-torpedo nets. Two of the Park ships were lost to natural hazards and four were lost due to enemy action. One, Avondale Park, built at the Pictou Shipyard in Pictou, Nova Scotia was one of two Allied ships destroyed by enemy action in the North Sea in the last hour of the war in Europe on May 7, 1945.[8][9][10][11]

At the same time, Canada produced 90 additional vessels for the American government which were turned over to the British Merchant Navy under a lend-lease agreement.[12] Built to the same design but designed to burn oil instead of coal, these vessels were known as Fort ships, and they took their names from forts. Notable ships of this type included Fort Cataraqui, Fort Rosalie, and Fort Charlotte. Like many of the Fort ships, Fort Charlotte was launched as a Park. The hull of the Park ships were riveted, not welded.

After the war, by 1948, all the fort ships had been sold to private companies all around the world. The new owners gave the ships new names.

Park Ship Radio Room
SS Brentwood Bay Park tanker ship in Victoria, Canada in 1945


Park ships were armed. There were merchant seamen gunners. Also many British and Canadian merchantmen carried volunteer naval gunners called Defensively equipped merchant ship or DEMS gunners. The American ships carried Naval Armed Guard gunners. Merchant seamen crewed the merchant ships of the British Merchant Navy which kept the United Kingdom supplied with raw materials, arms, ammunition, fuel, food and all of the necessities of a nation at war throughout World War II literally enabling the country to defend itself. In doing this they sustained a considerably greater casualty rate than almost every branch of the armed services and suffered great hardship. Seamen were aged from fourteen through to their late seventies.[13] The lost are remembered in The Royal Canadian Naval Ships Memorial Monument in Spencer Smith Park in Burlington, Ontario.[14]


Monument to SS Point Pleasant Park in her namesake park in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The vessel was built at the Davie Shipyard in Montreal.

The shipbuilding program was not easy to implement as Canada had only four operational shipyards with nine berths in 1940. By 1943, there were six additional shipyards and a total of 38 berths. These were all private shipyards located across Canada - on the East Coast at Pictou and Saint John, in Montreal, Sorel and Lauzon on the St. Lawrence River, at Collingwood on Georgian Bay, and Victoria, Vancouver and Prince Rupert on the Pacific Coast. Only the yards at Montreal, Saint John, Victoria and Collingwood had existed before the war. By 1945, there were 57,000 men and women employed in building or repairing merchant ships in Canada and several thousand more were employed building ships for the Royal Canadian Navy.[15]

The table shows the name of the shipyard and city, and the number of vessels launched by each yard.[12] Eventually thousands of Canadians and British would serve aboard these Canadian Merchant Navy ships.[16]

Shipyard City Vessels
Burrard Dry Dock Co. Ltd. North Vancouver (BC) 24
North Van Ship Repair Ltd. North Vancouver (BC) 18
Prince Rupert Dry Dock & Shipyard Prince Rupert (BC) 6
Victoria Machinery Depot Co. Ltd. Victoria (BC) 11
West Coast Shipbuilders Ltd. Vancouver (BC) 24
Canadian Vickers Ltd. Montreal (Quebec) 1
Davie Shipbuilding & Repair Co Ltd. Lauzon (Quebec) 16
Foundation Maritime Pictou Shipyard Pictou (NS) 24[17]
Marine Industries Limited Sorel (Quebec) 18
Morton Engineering & Dry Dock Co. Ltd. (Quebec) 4
Saint John Dry Dock Co. Ltd. Saint John (NB) 8
United Shipyards Ltd. Montreal (Quebec) 25
Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. Collingwood (ON) 3
Total 182

Ships in ClassEdit

Park-type Cargo ShipsEdit

  • Wascana  Park
  • Strathcona  Park
  • Beaton  Park
  • Sapperton  Park
  • Mewata  Park
  • Louisbourg  Park
  • Tipperary  Park
  • Bowness  Park
  • Westend  Park
  • Dunlop Park
  • Tobiatic Park
  • Kootenay Park
  • Mohawk Park
  • Seacliff Park
  • Coronation Park
  • Fairmount Park
  • Cromwell Park
  • Princeton Park
  • Garden Park
  • Albert Park
  • Rupert Park
  • Prince Albert Park
  • Gatineau Park
  • Banff Park
  • Jasper Park
  • High Park
  • Chippewa Park
  • Riverdale Park
  • Point Pleasant Park
  • Port Royal Park
  • Algonquin Park
  • Glacier Park
  • Laurentide Park
  • Elm Park
  • Rocky Mountain Park
  • Mount Revelstoke Park
  • Tweedsmuir Park
  • Stanley Park
  • Belwoods Park
  • Yamaska Park
  • Kawartha Park
  • Lakeview Park
  • Frontenac Park
  • Champlain Park
  • Mount Robson Park
  • Green Gables Park
  • Dundurn Park
  • Kitsilano Park
  • Leaside Park
  • Temagami Park
  • Westbank Park
  • Buffalo Park
  • Crystal Park
  • Dorval Park
  • Connaught Park
  • Yoho Park
  • Richmond Park
  • Bridgeland Park
  • Whiterock Park
  • Green Hill Park
  • Goldstream Park
  • Selkirk Park
  • Simcoe Park
  • Highland Park
  • Nemiskam Park
  • Winnipegosis Park
  • Earlscourt Park
  • Westview Park
  • Elgin Park
  • Gaspesian Park
  • Elk Island Park
  • Rideau Park
  • Lafontaine Park
  • Westmount Park
  • Kildonan Park
  • Alder Park
  • Whiteshell Park
  • La Salle Park
  • Rondeau Park
  • Hillcrest Park
  • Rosedale Park
  • Runnymede Park
  • Mount Orford Park
  • Sibley Park
  • Withrow Park
  • Dentonia Park
  • Sunalta Park
  • Noranda Park
  • Outremont Park
  • Grafton Park
  • Eastwood Park
  • Wellington Park
  • Hampstead Park
  • Portland Park
  • Alexandra Park
  • Yoho Park
  • Salt Lake Park
  • Hastings Park
  • Mission Park
  • Montebello Park
  • Lakeside Park
  • Seven Oaks Park
  • Kootenay Park
  • Mount Douglas Park
  • Tecumseh Park
  • Windermere Park
  • Sunnyside Park
  • Parkdale Park
  • Queens Park
  • Atwater Park
  • Tuxedo Park
  • Dominion Park
  • Mount Robson Park
  • Weston Park
  • Cornish Park
  • Queensborough Park
  • Winona Park
  • Montebello Park
  • Waverley Park

Modified Scandinavian-class CargoEdit

  • Lansdowne Park
  • Mayfair Park
  • Dufferin Park
  • Baldwin Park
  • Willow Park
  • Bell Park
  • Cartier Park
  • Victoria Park
  • Crescent Park
  • Rockcliffe Park
  • Montmorency Park
  • Kensington Park
  • Manitou Park
  • Woodland Park
  • Ainslie Park
  • Hector Park
  • Chignecto Park
  • Beresford Park
  • Avondale Park
  • Confederation Park
  • Cataraqui Park
  • Kelowna Park
  • Taber Park
  • Liscomb Park
  • Wentworth Park
  • Sunset Park
  • Ashby Park
  • Evangeline Park
  • Mulgrave Park
  • Sutherland Park
  • Lorne Park
  • Rockland Park
  • Hamilton Park
  • Westdale Park
  • Maisonneuve Park
  • Rockwood Park
  • Dartmouth Park
  • Fawkner Park
  • Taronga Park
  • Bloomfield Park
  • Oakmount Park
  • Argyle Park
  • Shakespeare Park

Park-type TankersEdit

  • Point Pelee Park
  • Mount Royal Park
  • Brentwood Bay Park
  • Clearwater Park
  • Cypress Hills Park
  • Mount Maxwell Park

Park-type Tankers, Great Lakes TradingEdit

  • Tankers for World War 2, converted to cargo after war:
  • Nipiwan Park
  • Norwood Park
  • Springbank Park
  • Otterburn Park
  • Eglington Park
  • Millican Park
  • Mount Bruce Park
  • Silver Star Park
  • Wildewood Park
  • Moose Mountain Park
  • Arlington Beach Park
  • Willowdale Park
  • Quetico Park

Lost in actionEdit

Engraving of SS Point Pleasant Park, Canadian Merchant Navy Monument, Sackville Landing, Halifax, Nova Scotia
SS Jasper Park 1943
  • The SS Jasper Park was the first Park ship lost to enemy action. Four of the crew were killed. HMS Quiberon and Quickmatch rescued 45 crew and 6 DEMS gunners.
  • The SS Point Pleasant Park was torpedoed near Cape Town, South Africa on February 23, 1945 with nine crew lost.
  • The SS Taber Park sank in the North Sea on March 13, 1945 after German midget U-boat attack. Four gunners and 24 crew were killed out of the 32 persons on board, the crew was British. She rest southeast of Yarmouth in England at 5222N 0153E (not to be taken as the Tabor Park a cargo ship was torpedoed, shelled and sunk in the Indian Ocean).
  • The SS Avondale Park sank, her crew was British, Sank on May 7, 1945. Two men were killed and there were 39 survivors. Avondale Park was the last Allied ship lost to German submarines during the war.[18]


WWII Navy Memorial in Spencer Smith Park in Burlington, Ontario

Notable incidentsEdit

Park Ships sank or damaged:[22]

Engine Fireman on the deck of a Park Ship in 1945
Sign on the SS Stanley Park Merchant Ship at dock in October 1945 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Three officer cadets Bob Pethick (left) and Doug McPherson (right). All three wear white uniforms intended for the tropics or hot summer weather. Ship boards names are hinged in the middle, kept folded while at sea and were opened when ship is at port.

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Syd C. Heal, A Great Fleet of Ships: the Canadian forts & parks, Vanwell Publishing, 1999 ISBN 1-55125-023-3


  1. ^ merchant ships, Park armament
  2. ^ Park Ships, A to N
  3. ^ Park Ships, O to Y
  4. ^ Park Ships, Tankers
  5. ^ Canada Parks History and culture
  6. ^, The Park Ships
  7. ^, Valour at Sea - Canada's Merchant Navy
  8. ^ "U-2336 Type XXIII". Archived from the original on March 15, 2006. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  9. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol info for U-2336". Patrol info for U-162. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  10. ^ "War casualties or just victims of an arrogant Captain". Timegun Travels. Archived from the original on 12 December 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  11. ^, The Second World War The Merchant Navy - SS Stanley Park: Merchant Ship
  12. ^ a b "THE 'PARKS'". Mariners. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  13. ^ Commonwealth War Graves Commission records
  14. ^ Royal Canadian Naval Ships Memorial Monument
  15. ^ Giesler, Patricia. "Valour at Sea: Canada's Merchant Navy" (PDF). Veterans Affairs Canada. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 July 2011. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  16. ^ "The Merchant Navy of Canada". Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  17. ^ "List of ships built at the Pictou yard". Archived from the original on 2014-03-27. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  18. ^, Park Ship lost
  19. ^ Canadian-Registry Merchant Ships Lost to Enemy Action\
  20. ^ mariners, Park ship A to M
  21. ^ mariners, Park ship N to Z
  22. ^ Park Ships

External linksEdit