Empire Stevedoring Ltd. was founded in 1907 on Vancouver’s booming waterfront. With the successful bid on several key contracts, including rights to the Canadian Pacific Railway pier, an office in Victoria, British Columbia was opened shortly after. By 1925 the company was flourishing and subsequent offices were opened in New Westminster, Port Alberni and Prince Rupert. Over the next fifteen years the company continued to expand despite the Great Depression and the bitter waterfront strike of 1935. By comparison, other local ports had reduced their exports to a virtual standstill during these tumultuous times because of little demand for work.
Empire Stevedoring enjoyed a steady growth period following World War II well into in the 1950’s. Industrialization created employment opportunities, working conditions improved, international trade grew, and shipping companies prospered once again. Mechanization spread quickly through the 1960’s as terminal operators achieved load rates never seen previously thanks to the introduction of the forklift truck. No longer hampered by the lifting capabilities of men, and gains by new mechanical innovations, the Port of Vancouver saw massive volume increases in cargo throughput. In the twenty-three year period from 1950 to 1973, cargo volumes increased a staggering 32.1 million tonnes, or 321%!
Empire Stevedoring continued to thrive throughout the 1970’s until high inflation resulted in a global recession by the close of the decade. The world economy was hit hard, but the shipping industry was especially shaken as raw and semi-finished products exported from many countries - including Canada – were simply too expensive for other countries to import. Economic uncertainty and periodic recessions continued into the next decade as the 1980’s brought a new level of competitiveness to the marine industry. Empire Stevedoring had to maintain its competitive advantage by improving efficiencies in the loading, discharging and handling of cargoes, reducing costs for its customers and sustaining and expanding its operations. Empire Stevedoring’s philosophy to adopt best practices in all facets of its business enterprises and embrace technological advancements put the company firmly ahead of its competition.
Empire Stevedoring continued to grow with the construction of the Prince Rupert Grain terminal, which was completed in 1985. Since that terminal’s inception, Empire has been its in-house stevedore and after more than thirty years, Empire maintains an exclusive agreement with Prince Rupert Grain Terminal. In addition to grain commodities, Empire handles logs and project cargoes in Prince Rupert.
In 1999 Empire Stevedoring formed its exclusive grain division now known as Empire Grain Stevedoring Ltd. From its early days to present, Empire Grain Stevedoring Ltd. continues to be Western Canada’s top grain stevedore expertly overseeing the loading of various commodities and leading the industry in service and expertise.