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Boilermakers Lodge 191, the first in British Columbia, was established in the City of Victoria on January 29, 1898. The Yukon Gold Rush created a demand for the fabrication of stationary and marine boilers. With the passing of the gold rush demand continued. The city’s harbour and its facilities, including boiler making expertise served Victoria’s whaling fleet
During World War One, thanks to the efforts of Pym Butchart of gardens fame, the Imperial Munitions Board contracted Victoria Machinery Depot Co. Ltd, to bulid steam powered wooden coastal freighters freighters for the Canadian Government. The minimum wages for Boilermakers and Shipbuilders during this era was 50¢ per hour.
With Victoria suffering heavy unemployment in the early 1920’s membership in Lodge 191 dropped to the point where, in 1923 its Charter lapsed. Its Charter was reinstated in 1925 and on February 1, 1930, the Boilermakers affiliated with the All-Canadian Congress of Labour and became Local #2 – Boilermakers and Iron Ship Builders of Canada. Nineteen members payed an initiation fee of $1.
Lodge 191 remained in existence and its Charter did not lapse lapsed 1944. Unfortunately, there are no records available for this period to shed a light on its activities. The 1940 collective agreement with the Victoria Machinery Depot Co. Ltd, indicates Boilermakers were paid 90¢ an hour.
Early in 1945, a rift occurred between Boilermakers Local #2 and its parent body, the Canadian Congress of Labour leading to talk of disaffiliation. The dissension was focussed on the newly formed Shipyard General Workers Federation than on the Canadian Congress of Labour. The resulting vote approved disaffiliation. The Local then petitioned the Trades and Labour Council to issue a Charter for a new organization, the Victoria Shipyard Workers Federal Union, Local #238.
In 1951, Local 238 went on strike situation on its hands and, with the need of strike benefits, the Local met with the Boilermakers Brotherhood to discuss re-affiliation. On October 4, 1951, a special meeting was called to discuss the matter and a vote was taken. The members of the Victoria Shipyard Workers’ Federal Union Local #238 made the decision to return to the Brotherhood after an absence of 21 years. This action led to the return of the Local to the Brotherhood and Lodge 191’s Charter was reinstated on October 23, 1951.