V. FORT VANCOUVER: VANCOUVER BARRACKS, 1919-1947
Administrative and Political Context
As in the rest of the country, the Vancouver region experienced the post-war slump in business, followed by a gradual rise in economic power and growth of the middle class. Military action at Vancouver Barracks was virtually non-existent; most building activity related to activities of the Army reserve units--both the air corps and the Citizen's Military Training Camps. The low level of activity on the post in the 1920s was punctuated periodically by such recreational events as air shows at the army's new airfield, and polo matches at the post's new polo grounds. Because of Vancouver's proximity to the many national and state forests, Vancouver Barracks became an important district headquarters for a number of Civilian Conservation Corps camps, beginning in 1933. When war broke out in Europe, the post was revitalized. But it served primarily as a port of embarkation, operated out of Portland; thousands passed through, but few stayed. The institution which had the most significant and far-reaching impact on the Vancouver region since the Hudson's Bay Company was the U.S. Maritime Commission, which contracted with the Kaiser Company to build three shipyards in the Portland-Vancouver area, one of which was located southeast of the Hudson's Bay Company stockade site on the point of old Fort Plain. The yards brought thousands of workers to the area between 1941 and 1946; at its peak, the Kaiser Shipyard at Vancouver employed over 38,000 people, many of them from out of state. Many new housing developments were built, at government expense, to shelter the shipyard employees, and, in Vancouver, new schools, health care centers, shopping centers and libraries seemed to appear overnight. The influx of workers during these years forever altered the region's physical and social fabric.
Last Updated: 27-Oct-2003