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BC book wins maritime award

May 24th, 2023

Robert G. Allan (pictured at right) and Peter A. Robson have won the 2023 John Lyman Book Award in the “Naval and Maritime Reference Works and Published Primary Sources” category for  Workboats for the World: The Robert Allan Story (Harbour $99.95).

The book tells the story of Robert Allan Ltd., a marine architecture firm founded in Vancouver in 1928. The firm got its start designing stealth speed boats used in rum running, classic fishing boats, small ferries and sumptuous yachts. Under the founder’s son, Robert F. (Bob) Allan, the firm began transforming the coastal tug fleet from wood to steel and developed unique innovations such as self-loading/self-dumping log barges. The third generation in the family business, Robert G. (Rob) Allan, distinguished the company by overseeing unique tugboat designs that continue to be sold around the world.

Peter A. Robson

This book is about a company, about the family that built it (three men with the name Robert Allan), and about the many people whose efforts have helped to make Robert Allan Ltd. a Canadian success story in the global maritime world. It is also, of course, about the thousands of working vessels around the world which have been designed by the company over the better part of a century.

Robert G. (Rob) Allan, the founder’s grandson, grew up in Vancouver and attended the University of British Columbia before training as a naval architect at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. In 2008, ninety years after his grandfather had started the company, Rob Allan transferred the ownership of Robert Allan Ltd. to core employees. Rob is now retired and living in Vancouver with his wife Enneke.

Peter A. Robson has more than twenty-five years of experience in the fields of book and magazine writing, research, editing and production and has authored or contributed to a number of award-winning books on subjects such as commercial fishing, forestry and salmon farming. He lives in Garden Bay, BC.


The John Lyman Book Awards are presented each year by the North American Society for Oceanic History (NASOH) to recognize excellence in the publication of books that make significant contributions to the study and understanding of maritime and naval history. These prestigious awards are given annually by the Society in six categories: Canadian naval and maritime history; U.S. naval history; U.S. maritime history; science and technology; reference works and published primary sources; and biography and autobiography.




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