This Week in History
Sails Away! The Canadian Navy is Born
For the week of Monday May 3, 2010
The armed vessels of the Fisheries Marine were transferred to naval control and two ships were obtained from the Royal Navy: the cruisers Niobe and Rainbow. Niobe arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in October 1910 to a large crowd that welcomed the ship with speeches and military salutes. During the First World War, Niobe was called upon to patrol the waters between Halifax and New York, looking for aggressive German ships.
Canada’s second ship, Rainbow, arrived in Esquimalt, British Columbia, about a month after Niobe. Rainbow was essential in protecting the West Coast when war broke out. In her most famous moment, an outnumbered and underequipped Rainbow had to protect two British ships that were in danger of being attacked by German cruisers. Luckily, Rainbow never encountered the German cruisers and escorted the British ships to safety.
In 1968, the Royal Canadian Navy was disbanded and became integrated with Canada’s land and air branches to create the Canadian Armed Forces. Unification took Canada’s military in a new direction, focusing on international peacekeeping and NATO defence missions. Today, Canada’s Navy owns over 30 warships and continues to defend Canada’s coasts.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier was designated a national historic person in 1938. The Esquimalt Naval Sites was designated a national historic site in 1995.
For more information on the 100th anniversary of Canada’s Navy, visit The Canadian Naval Centennial 1910-2010 website of National Defence and the Canadian Forces.
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