IN connection with the development of the American merchant marine no man has rendered more valuable service than Wallace Downey, the well-known shipbuilder.
He was born in Minudie, Nova Scotia, May ii, 1862, the son of Joshua and Catherine (Mc- Gurney) Downey; was educated in the Minudie Grammar School, 1870-1879, and in 1880 came to Brooklyn, New York. He was apprenticed to the firm of Townsend & Edgett, shipwrights. He learned the business thoroughly and finally became its manager and in 1892 a partner, organizing the firm of Townsend & Downey. In 1898 he organized the Townsend & Downey Shipbuilding Company, of which he became president and managing director. That company was famous for the building of the highest types of cruising and racing yachts, including the celebrated "Atalan- tic," "Elmina" and "Muriel," and Kaiser Wil- helm's imperial .yacht "Meteor."
He originated an agitation for the rehabilitation of the American merchant marine, organizing the United States Merchant Marine Association of New York,
the membership of which included all the Gov-ernors of all the States, the Mayors of the principal cities and many other prominent American leaders.
In 1916 Mr. Downey with associates purchased Shooters' Island, then covered with weeds and grass, with the purpose of creating there a great shipbuilding enterprise. With the aid of friends and acquaintances he gathered more than a million dollars for that purpose, and organized the
Standard Shipbuilding Companv. A remarkable fe ature about this Shooters Island plant was the unprecedented rapidity attained in the building of its shipways.
Later Mr. Downey disposed of his holdings in the Standard Shipbuilding Co. and purchased the widely known engineering works of the Providence Engineering Co. at Providence, Rhode Island, and established there a large marine engine building enterprise, once more demonstrating his
farsightedness by making arrangements for build-ing engines before taking contracts for the con-struction of hulls.
In 1917 Mr. Downey once more located his ac-tivities in the harbor of New York, purchasing the plant and ideal shipbuilding site then occupied by the well-known iron works of Milliken Brothers, at Mariners Harbor, Staten Island, thereby acquiring, in addition to the buildings and site, a large equipment of ironworking and machine tools suitable for shipbuilding. The purchase involved a cost of $1,350,000, and was quickly made available for shipbuilding use. Mr. Downey obtained and executed a contract to build ten standardized steel vessels for the Shipping Board, each of 7,500 tons deadweight, at an aggregate contract price of $ 12,000,000. For this purpose he incorporated the Downey Shipbuilding Company of Mariners Harbor, N. Y.
Mr. Downey has membership in the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, the Maritime Association of New York (formerly a director), and the Canadian Society of New York, of which he was president, 1904-1906.