When I first visited Meridian Marine’s new facility on the Fraser River in 2013, they had only just moved in. There was a lot of empty space but you could tell the dreams of Jim McFadden and Tom Ferns were already in motion and taking shape. Today, the shop is bustling with staff and there are signs of projects in the works throughout the entire 200,000 square-foot facility.
Meridian Marine’s progress over the past two years is a good example of how the shipbuilding and repair industry is making a comeback in B.C. For Jim, it’s the culmination of a lifelong adventure — one that’s seen the highs and lows of shipbuilding in B.C. and one that is now reaping the benefits.
BCSN: Let’s start with an overview of your career and some background on Meridian Marine Industries.
JM: I grew up living very close to the world famous Harland & Wolff Shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland. With five generations of shipbuilders in my family, you could say I was destined to follow in their footsteps. I immigrated to Canada just shortly after graduating high school in June 1980 and started working at Vancouver Shipyards as an apprentice plater/shipwright. I worked for them on and off for about 15 years — I say on and off because it was unsteady work in the shipbuilding industry in those days. During those times when I was laid off, I worked in a fewer smaller yards —Mackenzie Barge, Marine Ways in Deep Cove and Progressive Marine in New Westminster.
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