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British Industrial History

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George Alexander Walkham

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George Alexander Walkham (1872-1946)

1947 Obituary [1]

"Major George Alexander Walkem, whose death occurred on 13th December 1946, was well known in Western Canada as a prominent engineering employer.

He was born a Kingston, Ontario, in 1872, and served his apprenticeship in the Kingston Foundry and Locomotive Works from 1887 to 1891. Later he received his engineering education at McGill University, graduating B.S.c. in 1896. After two years' experience as engineer engineer to the Collins Bay Rafting Co he went to British Columbia and was engaged on the construction of the British Columbia Electric Railway until 1899, when he went into practice as a consulting engineer. Two years later, however, he was appointed manager of the Vancouver Engineering Works.

In 1906 he incorporated the Vancouver Machinery Depot, Ltd., and in 1911 the Gulf of Georgia Towing Co, of which he was president until 1945.

During the war of 1914-18 Major Walkem served with the Royal Engineers in France, Egypt, and Palestine and rose to the rank of major. He was mentioned in dispatches by Lord Allenby for "gallant and distinguished service in the field". On demobilization he returned to Vancouver and subsequently became president of the Gulf of Georgia Towing Company, with which is associated the West Coast Salvage and Contracting Company, Ltd., of which he also became president and managing director. Under his direction the Vancouver Iron Works, Ltd., which was formed in 1926, rapidly expanded and played an important part in the manufacture of ship machinery during the war of 1939-45.

Furthermore, the West Coast Shipbuilders, Ltd., of which Major Walkem was president, made a valuable contribution to the war effort by constructing no less than fifty-two 10,000-ton freighters. Major Walkem, who was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1901 and transferred to Membership in 1921, will be remembered for the valuable services he rendered as chairman of the Canadian Advisory Committee since 1943. In addition he was a past president of the Engineering Institute of Canada and of the Association of Professional Engineers of British Columbia. He also sat as a member in the Provincial House of Assembly for five years, and for a number of years lectured on a voluntary basis on industrial management in the department of mechanical engineering at the University of British Columbia.

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