This virtual exhibit documents the construction of two cargo vessels, the schooner, CUTTY SARK, and the steamer, WAR MONCTON, from the laying of their keels to their launches. These images detail the traditional shipbuilding methods used in New Brunswick at the end of era when wooden-hulled sailing vessels were being rapidly superseded by steel-hulled steam vessels.

The CUTTY SARK was built by the New Brunswick Shipbuilding Company in Saint John , New Brunswick , between February and December 1919. Launched in early December 1919, this four-masted schooner was owned by its builders and was managed by E.C. Elkin & Company. Registered at 686 tons, the CUTTY SARK's hull measured 181.6 feet by 36 feet x 16 feet. The vessel was abandoned and set ablaze on 12 June 1929 midway on a voyage between Bermuda and Nova Scotia .

The steamer, WAR MONCTON, was constructed at the Grant and Horne Shipyard on Courtenay Bay , Saint John , New Brunswick , between September 1918 and May 1919. This vessel was built for the Imperial Munitions Board and was the sister ship to the WAR FUNDY. Launched on 24 May 1919 , the wooden-hulled WAR MONCTON was 250 feet long, 43.5 feet wide and had a depth of 25 feet. Registered at 2300 tons, the WAR MONCTON had a carrying capacity of 3000 tons dead weight, had two oil consuming engines of approximately 1000 horsepower and would carry a crew of thirty-four. In 1920, the WAR MONCTON was sold to Italian interests, renamed the VACUNA and was eventually scrapped in 1924.

In this collection, there are also eleven images of an unidentified vessel under construction at the Nova Scotia Shipbuilding and Transportation Company and Southern Salvage Company in Liverpool , Nova Scotia .

Most of these images were taken by preeminent New Brunswick photographer Isaac Erb (1846-1924). Erb's oeuvre is renowned for its breadth of subject. In addition to producing formal studio portraits, he documented the industrial, business and social life of Maritime Canada. Erb captured interior views of businesses and factories, overviews of parades and picnics as well as details of slum housing conditions and bustling streetscapes. Sometimes his method included a patient documentation of the process of constructing a sailing vessel or capturing the fleeting effects of natural phenomenon like the unusual tides at the mouth of the St. John River . In some instances, formal and informal poses of portrait groups were taken during the same sitting. Many of Erb's negatives are in 6x8 inch format they were most often contact printed and his photographs display excellent detail and clarity. Erb operated his Saint John , New Brunswick , studio between 1878 and 1924. This series of images provides the viewer with a glimpse of Erb's attention to detail, individual perspective and judgment as well as his technical abilities. The unique series of interior views of the WAR MONCTON, all taken from the same vantage point, provides a virtual timelapse progression of its construction from start to finish.