Shipyard Gala: Industrial, Raw, and Beautiful

TBSO Celebrates the Past and Embraces the Future in a One-Time-Only Event

By Tiffany Jarva

“I wish everybody could experience this space,” says Kerry Berlinquette, volunteer co-coordinator for the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra’s (TBSO) annual fundraising gala, with all proceeds going towards their Youth and Education program. “It’s going to be epic.” Berlinquette is referring to the fact that this is a one-time-only event in a space steeped with significant meaning and history. She smiles broadly as we take a step into “The Shipyard” main building, winds blowing across Lake Superior, a constant anchor even as the door closes. It feels like stepping into our port city’s past and we pause to take it all in: light flits across the textured patina industrial walls, huge barn style doors punctuate the exits, and you can almost see the shadows of a freighter or a tug being repaired by hard-working men.

“I feel like it’s a great fit,” explains co-coordinator Krystyna Cappello. “The shipyard was a cornerstone of the community in the past and the symphony is a cornerstone of the community now. It’s the past meeting the future.” Also fitting because it’s conductor Arthur Post’s final concert with TBSO after seven years.

“It’s a beautiful juxtaposition,” says Cappello pointing out the hard work and grit of the shipyard versus the hard work and refined music of the symphony. “And there is the beautiful contradiction of young and hip entertainers playing against the background of an old and historical building.”  Post has created a playlist that includes classic symphony favourites combined with current music (like Prince!) and local vocalists Spencer Hari, Tiina Flank, Amanda Mihalus, and Craig Smyth.

Thanks to the generosity of the new owners, Current River Holdings and Fabmar, the space has been cleaned up and is available to use for a very brief period of time before they begin operations in summer 2017.

This is an event not to be missed! There will be a silent auction, food stations featuring fare by Chef Andrew Stone, a creative cocktail bar by Frape and Sons Bitters with drinks like the good Old Fashioned, and local award-winning beer from Sleeping Giant Brewery and Dawson Trail. And of course there will dancing!

Live at The Shipyard is April 29. Tickets are available at tbso.ca.

The Shipyard: A bit of history

  • In 1910, “The Shipyard,” was run by Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company (PASCOL).
  • The drydock could service ships that were up to 700-feet long.
  • Workers used to “punch” rivets for a penny a rivet.
  • Nearly 150 ships have been built at “The Shipyard.”
  • In the 1930s the Millwork Department was producing fine furnishings, cabinets, and stairs.
  • Most of Port Arthur’s church pews were made at PASCOL.
  • During WWII “The Shipyard” built vessels for the Royal Canadian Navy.
  • Before it was PASCOL, it was Western Drydock and there are still two original Western ballasts outside the main building.
  • The wooden acoustic panels at the Community Auditorium were made at “The Shipyard.”
  • “The Shipyard,” under Lakehead Marine & Industrial Inc., closed shop in 2014.

For more about the city’s waterfront history check out The Walleye’s Port City issue