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Heddle Shipyards starts 2024 with a new name

Thunder Bay marine repair operator says Ontario Shipyards better reflects its goal to revitalize the shipbuilding industry.

Heddle Shipyards is now Ontario Shipyards.

Effective this month, the Hamilton-based company, with a Thunder Bay yard, has adopted a new name, which it says reflects the next phase of its growth plan.

The firm operates shipbuilding and repair services in Hamilton, Port Weller and Thunder Bay, where it acquired the former Lakehead Marine property and dry dock in 2016.

Its website notes that it was founded in 1987 by Rick Heddle with nothing more than a welding machine on a quayside in Hamilton, but is now the largest Canadian-owned ship repair and construction business on the Great Lakes.

"We must never forget where we have come from, but it is important to always be forward-thinking," president and CEO Shaun Padulo stated in announcing the name change.

"The rebranding marks a significant shift. It is a poignant signal that our company will activate and harness the capacity, capabilities and output of Canada's industrial heartland to build and fix ships."

The announcement pointed out that Ontario was once the epicentre of shipbuilding in Canada, with more than 80 commercial and government vessels built at Port Weller, and many more at the historic Thunder Bay shipyard.

It said the company plans to revitalize the industry by modernizing and revolutionizing shipyard operations and building a highly skilled workforce.

Additional capacity will be needed in the coming years, it said, to support the federal government's national shipbuilding strategy.

A company spokesperson could not be reached for comment, but Ted Kirkpatrick, director of business development, has previously stated that the Thunder Bay facility will receive some of the work for a decade-long construction of a new Polar-class icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard.

The firm has a partnership with BC-based Seaspan for that project. 

In 2021, Heddle Marine acquired Thunder Bay-based Fabmar Metals, a fabrication and marine repair specialist.

— TBNewswatch