Josh Nelles on HMCS Haida © Parcs Canada
One of about 60 volunteers on
HMCS Haida, Josh Nelles is exceptional, not only for his quiet diligence, polite manner, and willingness to help, but for his age. He was 9 years old when the ship arrived in Hamilton Harbour and it has fascinated him ever since. He could see the harbour and HMCS Haida from the apartment where he lives with his father. Only a five minute walk away he would often visit the ship, and phone home to let his father know where he was.
HMCS Haida is the last of the twenty-seven Tribal class destroyers built during the Second World War. It was fast, well-armed, and equipped with the most up-to-date detection and communications (radar and sonar) technology. Once described as the ‘fightingest ship in the Royal Canadian Navy’ it was designated a National Historic Site in 1984 and Parks Canada assumed ownership in 2003.
At first Josh just enjoyed being on the ship, asking questions and helping. Eventually, as an official volunteer, raising the flags became his specialty, 5 standard flags and sometimes more depending on the occasion. He arrives at 9 am to raise the flags, every day during the summer and only on weekends during the rest of the season (May to Thanksgiving) logging a total of 126 volunteer hours in a season. He can also be counted on to help out with special events such as Canada Day celebrations. He doesn’t wait to be asked but makes himself useful, setting up and taking down tents and chairs, or staging and lighting.
He enjoys boats and being on the water so much that he also started volunteering on the Hamilton Harbour Queen, a cruise boat also docked in Hamilton Harbour. After about 6 years this has developed into a part-time job. Volunteering has been fun and given him an opportunity to meet a wide variety of people.
Josh is one of the 100 volunteers recognized by Parks Canada, as part of its centennial, for his exceptional contribution.