We are thrilled to announce the first of many virtual events. In our last newsletter, we asked readers to tell us what they would like to see. We got a great response, and we’re hard at work putting together interactive programming on maritime topics. Our first offering comes to you courtesy of a dear friend of the museum and a board member, Robert G. Allan.

Robert Allan, a third-generation naval architect, is internationally recognized as a leading authority on tugboat and specialized workboat design. Since graduating with honours from the University of Glasgow in 1971 with a B.Sc. in Naval Architecture, he has been designing high-performance commercial workboats of all types. In 1981, he succeeded his father as President of Robert Allan Ltd. and led the growing company to a position of international prominence.

On May 9 at 4:00 p.m. Robert G. Allan will give a presentation called A Century of Ship Design in Vancouver: A brief History of Robert Allan Ltd. Tickets are only $5.

This presentation highlights the designs produced by multiple generations of this successful Vancouver-based business throughout the past century and the significant influence much of this work has had on B.C’s coastal economy and beyond. Robert Allan will discuss the work of his grandfather and father in detail and explore how industry changes impacted the design of boats.

The Allan Family in B.C.

In 1919 Robert Allan (Sr.) immigrated from Scotland to pursue his career as a naval architect in western Canada. He went into private practise in 1929. Operating alone in the 1930s was tough, but the war years and subsequent growth years of the BC economy provided opportunities for his considerable skills. In 1945 by his son Robert F. Allan joined the business, and they worked as a duo out of the family home office.

As the business grew, additional staff were hired. The late 1950s and 1960s were busy years during which the company established itself as a leader in the design of coastal working craft of all types, particularly for the growing tug-barge industry serving the BC coast. The business was incorporated as Robert Allan Ltd in 1962 and finally moved into proper offices in 1966.

In the early 1970s, Robert G. Allan joined the growing family business and led the organization into a highly regarded international consulting business, recognized as the leading supplier of high-performance tugboat designs in the world. Today the business is 100% employee-owned and has a full-time staff of about 90 highly qualified persons.

The presentation is a rare opportunity to learn about the history of B.C.’s shipbuilding industry from the family that was responsible for a portion of that history. And there will be boats—lots and lots of incredible boats. We look forward to seeing you there.