Finding Aids

Nanaimo Foundry fonds
Nanaimo Foundry fonds [textual record, graphic material, technical drawing]. -- 1930-1979.
3 v. of textual records
219 photographs
60 cm of technical drawings

The Nanaimo Foundry, at the corner of Comox Road and Arena Street, was established by Thomas and Nathaniel Dobeson in 1888. In 1889, Nathaniel sold his part of the business to Thomas who had already been a successful engineer in England. Originally, the foundry catered to the marine industry but quickly diversified into mining, logging and railway work. Thomas Dobeson patented, among other items, his own line of fire hydrants and the "Dobeson Carwheel", a wheel for coal mine cars with a built-in oiling device. Marine work included the design and production of marine engines and the conversion of sailing vessels to steamboats. In 1904, Dobeson died. By that time, the foundry was producing "donkeys", engines equipped with drums and cables which pulled logs out of the woods. Dobeson's sons, Joseph and Osmand, inherited the business and, over the years, it was owned by a succession of private interests including Ken Alexander and the Victoria Machinery Depot. The present buildings date from 1913 and include a machine shop which was built during World War 2. During the war, the foundry operated around the clock, building engine and marine parts for the military. In 1999, the Foundry moved to larger, more modern premises near Chemainus. At the time of the move, the Foundry, including a machine shop and fabricating works, catered mainly to pulp mills and the forestry industry and employed about 30 people. The site was purchased by the Nanaimo Port Authority in the 1980s and leased to the Foundry. The site was subsequently acquired by the Snenymuxw First Nations. In June 2005, a demolition permit was approved for all sections of the Foundry except the oldest identified section. The remainder of the building was demolished in January 2007.

Fonds consists of the business records of the Nanaimo Foundry. Fonds is arranged in four series: 1) Plans, Quotes and Technical Drawings; 2) Photographs; 3) Work Orders and 4) Pattern Book.

Title based on contents of fonds.
Series descriptions available.
Item level descriptions available for selected photographs.

Series 1.

Plans, Quotes and Technical Drawings [technical drawing, textual record]. -- 1930-1952.
60 cm of technical drawings
4 cm of textual records

Series consists of technical drawings, sketches, estimates and notes for equipment made by the Nanaimo Foundry. Many of the drawings were done by Harold Bond. Also includes a file of quotes. The original filing system used by Foundry staff has been retained.

Title based on the contents of the series.
Many of the items have fire and spark damage from the manufacturing process.
File list in box.

Series 2.

Photographs [graphic material]. -- [ca. 1940] - 1979.
219 photographs : b&w and col.

Series consists of photographs of equipment and machinery manufactured by the Nanaimo Foundry and some interior views of the foundry building. Also includes three aerial photographs of the Foundry and lagoon area.

Title based on the contents of the series.

Series 3.

Work Orders [textual record]. -- [194-].
2 v.

Series consists of two volumes of work orders for the Foundry's clients. Each volume is indexed. Numbers in the number column correspond to numbers in the Pattern Book (Series 4).

Title based on sticker on one volume.
Both volumes have fire damage and are very dirty.

Series 4.

Pattern Book [textual record]. -- 1940-1958.
1 v.

Series consists of a pattern book for items fabricated by the Nanaimo Foundry. Each pattern is numbered and corresponds to a number in the work order books.

Title based on manuscript annotation on recto.
Duct tape on volume binding.
Photo 1
Photo 2
Detail Page