Canada's shipbuilding industry got under way in Québec and the surrounding area during the last third of the 17th century. To start with, the focus was on small vessels intended for coastal navigation: rowboats, small sailboats and bateaux plats [flat-bottomed boats]. In the following decades, seagoing ships of greater tonnage were also built. In 1739, the King established a shipyard in Québec for the construction of large vessels that would become part of the royal navy. He dispatched the experienced shipbuilder, René-Nicolas Levasseur, to the colony to oversee the undertaking. On June 4, 1742, the first ship was launched: a 500-ton flûte (a ship fitted for war with cannons and used to transport material) named the Canada. After flourishing for about a decade, royal shipbuilding collapsed with the end of the French Regime.

Licence as king's shipbuilder in Canada granted to René-Nicolas Levasseur, April 1, 1743