A time interval 55-77 indicates employment at the Coal Harbour plant from 1955 to 1977; s. 55-77 indicates employment at the Steveston plant.
Allan introduced many improvements in the business. All of the drill presses in the Steveston shop were belt driven and had been in use for at least fifty years. The radial drill was becoming particularly shaky. The lathes ranged in age from a heavy Gisholt turret built early in the century to a Jones and Lamson turret built during the Second World War. The two heaviest engine lathes had been built by CMC in the 1920s or '30s. The welder was a similar vintage. These machines were serviceable but did not have the efficiency of contemporary machines. Thanks to initiative of Allan, the business invested in three new machines; an Ooya radial drill press with a 36 inch arm, an eighteen inch Okuma lathe and a Miller welder. The drill and the lathe each had geared drives and many other improvements over the old flat belt machines. The radial drill proved to be invaluable in the production of parts for drum drives, reverse gear boxes for auxiliary power transmissions and, a few years later, in production of trolling gurdies. The Okuma lathe, with its quick change tool post and electric brake became the preferred machine for many one-off jobs.
At this time, the machine shop had six engine lathes, four turret lathes (three in use), three milling machines, three drill presses a Davis keyseater, a Fellows gear shaper and a variety of other machines. Considering this equipment, it was understaffed with the three Easthope brothers, Allan and three or four employees. The fishing industry provided steady work during the spring and summer seasons but Allan realized that much more work was required to use the facilities to best advantage year round. In his years working for MacMillan Bloedel, Allan had accumulated many contacts in the forestry and paper industries. Many of the potential customers, long established companies, were still located in Vancouver at that time.
Allan had business cards printed and began to spend a few days of each week visiting potential customers. The majority of the people he spoke to perceived the location in Steveston to be remote and were not aware of the capabilities available in the shop. At that time several newcomers had set up small shops in Vancouver in back yards and in small commercial premises. The competition for work was stiff. Persuading customers to send work to Steveston proved to be a difficult proposition. Hindsight reveals that Allan was a few years ahead of a trend. The 1970s saw major changes in the industry. Shops moved from Vancouver to Richmond, Surrey and more distant communities. Many shops expanded and new speciality machine shops opened. As transportation became faster and cheaper contracts were let all over B.C. and Alberta.
Efforts at soliciting work through the winter of 1967-'68 produced meager results. By the spring of 1968 Allan was convinced that prosperity was an unlikely prospect for Easthope Brothers. In June of 1968 word came of an opportunity at the new paper mill near Skookumchuck in the Kootenays. Allan told his father Percy that he had decided to take the job. In late August of 1968, Allan left Easthope Brothers.
Allan had a successful career at the Skookumchuck mill and in 1969 became the machine shop foreman. In 1970, Hiram Walker & Sons Limited began construction of a distillery and bottling plant at Winfield, B.C. Allan applied for work there and in January, 1971, he was hired in the position of Design and Maintenance Supervisor, Packaging Division. Allan was very successful in this position until his retirement in September of 1996.
In 1940 John left the farm and came to Vancouver. The intense economic activity of war had not yet overtaken the Depression and jobs were scarce. The first work John found was with a small crew cutting timber on Vedder Mountain and later in Jervis Inlet. After less than a year logging an opportunity with a plumber became available in Vancouver. That appealed to John's interests more than logging; he worked as a plumber for about six months. At this time Burrard Shipyards was building some of the early Victory ships and John knew someone working there as rivetter. With a little persuasion the foreman hired John as bucker-up on the rivet crew where he stayed about a year.
Arc welding was quickly replacing riveting for heavy steel fabrication. When the shipyard offered a welding course John took the opportunity. With the course complete he began welding seams on Victory ships twelve hours a day, six days a week. This lasted for several months.
Dances were held routinely on Saturday evenings at the Swedish Hall at Clark Drive and Hastings Street and John sometimes attended. Percy and Agnes Easthope also attended and Agnes suggested that Ethel Easthope accompany them one Saturday. Consequently John and Ethel met there and were married on October 3 of 1942.
Military service removed men from the local workforce and the demand for Easthope engines was growing. In the late fall of 1943 John found himself working for his father-in-law. His first assignment was over a year of drilling and tapping cylinder heads, engine bases and flywheels. Practical joking sometimes occurred when foreman Stan Stigant left the premises on an errand. John recalls that if he left the drill press for a few minutes he might return to find grease on the handles of the feed wheel.
The boredom of the repetative work finally spurred John to ask Stan Stigant to be assigned to a different task. Stan dismissed the request and John responded by turning in his time slip to indicate resignation. When this came to the attention of George Easthope Sr. he asked John to explain. George was sympathetic to John's request and told Stan to arrange a change of work. Stan was peeved at being overruled by his employer; he assigned John to the least desirable job he could think of: filing cams. Each shaft was a steel casting with two cams per cylinder cast in place at the appropriate orientation. The cams required filing to reduce the rough casting to a surface smooth enough for the cam follower. The work was exacting, tiring and tedious. John realized the spitefulness which motivated the assignment and resolved to master the work. With practice he was able to complete seventeen cams per day.
A few months at filing cams was followed by a few more months pouring the babbit bearings which support the crankshaft in the base of the engine. John's last work at Easthope Brothers was about three months in the iron foundry. He recalls pouring the castings for engine bases, cylinders, heads and manifolds. In 1945 John left Easthope Brothers to manage and work in an auto garage co-owned with his brother Gundar. The garage remains in use in the basement of the Yorkshire building on Seymour Street between Pender and Hastings.
Stan's early education was in south Vancouver and continued until 1915 at which time he had completed 9 or 10 years of formal schooling. Edward Stigant had grocery business on Fraser Street in South Vancouver and upon completion of schooling Stanley worked worked for his father. Soon the business failed and the family encountered serious financial difficulty. World War I was raging in Europe. With many other young men, Stanley enlisted in the 158th Battalion, The Duke of Connaught's Own. The date of enlistment was March 7, 1916 and Stanley was 17 years and three months of age. To qualify, Stanley had asserted that his eighteenth birthday had passed.
Basic training was in Vernon, BC. Following that Stanley embarked from Halifax and arrived at a large Canadian Army training facility in Shoreham, England on the 20th of November. After training at Shoreham and immediately before embarking for service in France, Stan was found to be underage. He was not allowed to serve as an infantryman but was transferred to the Canadian Army Service Corps. Stan served in France from September 14, 1917 until the cessation of hostilities on November 11, 1918. Stan was discharged on June 19, 1919.
Family records are not clear regarding the next few years but Stanley is known to have returned to school in 1921. Subsequently he joined the Vancouver Fire Department and worked there for about two years. The free time in this work dissatisfied Stan's ambition. In January of 1923 he applied to serve as an apprentice marine machinist at Easthope Brothers. In early 1927 four years of apprenticeship had been completed Stan received from Percy Easthope Sr. a letter attesting to character and ability. Stan's career with Easthope's had begun and was to continue there for over 30 years.
By 1940 Stanley had become shop foreman. His son, John, was a young boy in the 1940s and recalls accompanying his father on many visits to the "shop" at 1745 West Georgia Street. They entered the premise through the front door. Then through a swinging door at the right side of the front counter, past the desks of the book-keeper, Mr. George Sleigh whom Stan referred to as "Sleigh". A doorway at the left side of the rear wall led into the machine shop. There John saw lathes, drill presses and other heavy machines arranged to be driven by overhead belts. Occasionally Stanley would let John press the master switch to start the big motor which drove the overhead shafts distributing power to individual machines. There was electric lighting and windows on the north side but by contemporary standards the shop was a dark and cool environment. The setting and machinery left a strong impression in the mind of young John, then a boy of about six years. At that time Stanley was foreman. Their destination was usually his small office about half way along the machine shop and at the top of a stairway leading to the basement space and the marine ways at water level. A nearby door opened to a narrow lane on the west side of the building. Acrss the lane was the iron foundry where engine castings were made. Engine drawings from 1945 were approved by Stanley.
Stanley Stigant and Jack Swann were contemporaries and friends. John Stigant recalls several vacations which his family shared with the Swann family.
While Stanley was primarily shop foreman at Easthopes, he also administered first aid. John recalls frequent incidents where his father would have to clean a cut and apply a bandage or remove a small fragment of metal from the eye of a workman. When the injury required more than first aid, the employee was taken to Dr. Schinbein. John recalled an anecdote from a man who had shrapnel from the war. A fragment was begining to break through the skin and the man remarked to Dr. Schinbein that a Kraut had put the schrapnel in. The doctor immediately replied that a Kraut would remove it.
In the early '50s modern automotive engines were being installed in most new boats and the demand for Easthope engines and parts for repairs was waning. With less work and less revenue, dismissal of employees became a necessity. Stanley was called into the office and told that Percy Jenkins, one of the more senior employees was to be laid off. Stanley protested that a more junior man should be laid off before Percy. George or Percy Easthope responded that Stan himself would be laid off and that was the end of his employment at Easthope Brothers. He had begun as an apprenticeship in 1923, became a journeyman in 1927, subsequently was appointed shop foreman. After serving as foreman for over fifteen years he was abruptly and dramatically terninated. It was an unfortunate conclusion to what had been a happy and satisfying career.
After leaving Easthopes, Stanley went to work for his friend and former co-worker Jack Swann. Also there, was Mr. Noel Andrews who had worked in the office at Easthopes and then became a book-keeper for Mr. Swann. Jack died in 1954 or '55. In his absence and in unfavourable economic conditions the business declined. Stanley, being the last man in was first man out, and was again unemployed. For a short time he worked for Alf van Snellenberg but found the work not to his liking. Soon Stan was employed by the School Board of West Vancouver and served as Custodian at a number of schools in the district. He continued that work until 1970. Then, at the age of 72 years, he began full retirement until, following a short illness, he quietly passed away on December 26, 1975.
In parallel with the shop work, Bill attended the evening program for machinists at Vancouver Vocational School in downtown Vancouver and at Vancouver Technical School at Broadway and Nanaimo on the east side of the city. He finished the apprenticeship and received his diploma July 7, 1968.
"Western" performed work for many businesses on Burrard Inlet including Vancouver Tug, Sangster, Blackmoore Marine, Riv Tow, Gates Towing and Menchions Boat Building. Bill remained at "Western" for 11 years.
In 1972 Western Machine Works was purchased by Allied Ship Yards. The "Western" plant was moved from West Georgia Street to the Allied yard at Second Narrows in North Vancouver. At this juncture Bill decided to go to work with his father and uncles at Easthope Brothers in Steveston.
By 1978, Joseph, Percy and Gene were all beyond the age of 65 years and were anxious to retire. They sold the company to Ron Dodd of Richmond. Joseph Easthope died of a heart attack the day the papers were to be signed. The salmon fishing industry was beginning to decline. Dodd encountered economic difficulties and in the 1980s sold the business to creditors, Phelps Leasing. The economic difficulties worsened and on July 31, 1987 the company was closed. Machinery, buildings and land were sold.
Trites Marine of Steveston bought the rights to manufacture Easthope products, excluding engines, and Bill went to work at the Trites shop at the south end of Number Two Road in Richmond. The location is approximately one mile east of the Steveston location of Easthope Brothers. In 1999 Trites Marine restructured and Bill left to set up his own business, Easthope Marine. After 42 years working as a machinist in marine related industries, Bill retired in 2004.
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