Lunenburg Shipyard Comes Under New Ownership

The historic Lunenburg Shipyard has come under new ownership and work is underway to bring it back to full working order.

The buying process, according to new owner Brad Boutilier, was a drawn-out process that was recently completed in July of 2023. Since then, a 1,200-tonne travel lift has been brought in to facilitate its operations, as well as repairs to the yard’s 1,600-tonne rail network.

“We tried to buy it a couple of times and just couldn’t get anything together with the seller, and then the deal came back around,” said Boutilier. “We got it into operation, starting with a local travel lift service to the fishing fleet and the local yachts that always used to call Lunenburg Shipyard home in the winter. Then, we started to get the railways operational again.”

The railway and many more finishing touches on the railway are projected to be completed by mid-spring of 2024. Boutilier already operates two other marine service facilities — East River Shipyard in Mahone Bay, N.S. and Gold River Marina in Chester, N.S. Boutilier intends to lean into his experience operating these two yards.

The former captain turned shipyard owner also expressed pride in being the newest torchbearer for the legacy of the storied shipyard. What would eventually become the Lunenburg Shipyard had many titles and purposes in its history.

In 1891, the Lunenburg Iron Company was founded and quickly shuttered by 1897. The Lunenburg Foundry Company was founded in its place by 1899, eventually transitioning to building diesel engines in the 1920s. After a boom in business during World War II, the business once again pivoted in the 1950s, when the first steel ship ever constructed in Western Nova Scotia, the Prima Vista, was built by Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering Limited.

The Lunenburg Foundry shipyard continued to persevere throughout the years until it ceased operation in 2021. For a time, the provincial government eyed purchasing the once privately-owned business before backing out of the deal and once again seeking a private investor to take over the yard.

“We’re sort of sticking with what we know — mid-sized projects. We’re not going to get into going full-force against the bigger yards in Atlantic Canada. We’re going to stick with our niche,” said Boutilier. “We just feel blessed to be a part of the history of what Lunenburg Shipyard is.”

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