An alloy to the marine industry, Lunenburg Foundry operating 133 years

Posted on June 14, 2024 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments


The original site of Lunenburg Foundry (left) and work being done inside the machine shop (right) during the early days (photo credit: Seaway Fabrications/Lunenburg Foundry)

Serving the maritime sector, Lunenburg Foundry has operated for over 130 years. What started with a stove-making business evolved into a manufacturer of ship components and a shipyard. Although the Foundry has changed in recent years, it remains a key player in the marine industry on the East Coast.

Initial bonding

In 1891, four metalworkers from Yarmouth opened a foundry in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, a thriving fishing community with sandy beaches ideal for metal casting. Known as Lunenburg Iron Company, it was originally in the business of making residential wood stoves with iron.

Over the next decade, the company changed hands a few times and incorporated as Lunenburg Foundry Co. Ltd. After its production facilities burned down, in 1907 members of the community invested in rebuilding the Foundry. Among the shareholders was John James Kinley Sr, whose family went on to own and operate the business for over a century.

Lunenburg Foundry products were included on the Bluenose (left), a remake of the famous Theodore Tugboat (right), and other notable vessels (photo credit: Seaway Fabrications/Lunenburg Foundry)

Heating up

Over time, the Foundry diversified by producing products for the marine industry, which led to the creation of the Atlantic Engine. This engine was one of the first of its kind and a revolution for inshore fishing because it could be used in small boats. A demand for ship servicing from World War II also allowed the Foundry to nearly quadruple its workforce to about 500. Around this time, the company expanded into ship servicing and became the primary shareholder of the Lunenburg Shipyard.

Then on, the Foundry focused on the marine industry, making parts and repairing vessels to get them shipshape for sailing. This allowed the company to persist through challenges like the cod moratorium, which led to further diversification by servicing offshore vessels.

Pieces from reFoundry, an organization of artists who restore and repurpose vintage wooden patterns from Lunenburg Foundry, giving them a new life as art or functional décor (photo credit: reFoundry)

Changing tides

The Kinley family owned and operated Lunenburg Foundry and its shipyard for 115 years and four generations. However, in 2022, they decided to sell the business, splitting ownership of the Foundry and the shipyard. John Kinley, former managing director, says it was a difficult decision and commented: “You don’t make a hundred years in a company without it being impactful to its surroundings. We were very discerning in who would take the reins, so it could remain a community-based organization and flourish under new ownership.”

Seaway Fabrications acquired the Foundry and the Shipyard was purchased by another investor. This separated both sides of the business. The Lunenburg Foundry’s identity and branding were maintained, however, its manufacturing facilities moved from Lunenburg to Whynotts, N.S.

Lunenburg Foundry’s new manufacturing facility in Whynotts, N.S. (photo credit: Seaway Fabrications/Lunenburg Foundry)

Still sailing

Although the company has undergone some changes, Lunenburg Foundry continues to manufacture marine products for its customer base across Atlantic Canada.

Speaking of Lunenburg Foundry’s impact on the community, David Payzant, shop supervisor, commented: “The name speaks for itself. It has so much history behind it and has impacted so many different customers over the years. It’s a staple in the area—everybody knows Lunenburg Foundry and somebody who’s worked here.”

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