Building the Minesweepers at Canadian Car and Foundry

Canadian Car and Foundry (now Bombardier) developed new manufacturing facilities in Fort William during the First World War. CC&F, a Montreal-based company, had begun manufacturing buses in Fort William several years earlier.

The most memorable achievement of this time was the construction of twelve minesweepers for the French Navy, all launched between August and November 1918. There was considerable work for these minesweepers clearing mines from the English Channel even after the war ended.

Two of these ships are remembered for their mysterious fate: the Inkerman and Cerisoles disappeared on their maiden voyage, which left Fort William on November 23, 1918. The remains of these ships have never been found.

Read more about the history of the Canadian Car and Foundry. A larger set of photographs from the minesweeper manufacturing is also available through the City of Thunder Bay Archives.

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Local notables at the sod-turning ceremony for the new Canadian Car & Foundry facilities in Fort William, July 17, 1912.
Bulkhead construction, July 6, 1918
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The first minesweeper being constructed in Berth #1, June 18, 1918.The first minesweeper to be completed was the Navarin.
Navarin, shown from the stern, just leaving its berth at Canadian Car &Foundry, July 29, 1918
Navarin, completed and ready for delivery, September 15, 1918
Navarin, setting out past Mount McKay, undated by probably September 1918

Mantoue was the second minesweeper launched.

Times-Journal, August 13, 1918, report on the launch of the Mantoue
The christening party for Mantoue, August 13, 1918

The Inkerman and Cerisoles were built in November, 1918. They were launched along with the Sebastopol, which was also hit badly by the storms but passed through to arrive safely in Sault Ste Marie.


Minesweepers docked on the river. Though individual ships are not identified, this photo probably includes the Inkerman and the Cerisoles. October 24, 1918

The News-Chronicle reports on the missing minesweepers Inkerman and Cerisoles.