Friday, November 16, 2007

What happened during the 50th?

In 1960, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Vice-Admiral Harry G. DeWolf, OBE, DSO, DSC, CD, was Chief of the Naval Staff, leading the RCN from his headquarters in Ottawa. He retired from the RCN on 31 July 1960 and Vice-Admiral Herbert S. Rayner, DSC, CD, succeeded him.

The navy was composed of Atlantic Command in Halifax, N.S., and Pacific Command in Esquimalt, B.C., and the Royal Canadian Navy (Reserve) [RCN(R)] located in 21 cities across the country. The RCN counted 19,926 officers, men and women and, in addition, there were 3,516 reservists and 13,000 civilian employees; the fleet tallied 120 vessels: 1 aircraft carrier, 24 destroyers, 18 frigates, 19 minors warships, 58 auxiliaries vessels, and more than 135 aircraft and helicopters of all types.

The celebrations took place in very short period of time on both coasts. The overall coordinator for the navy was Commander R.C. Hayden, Director of Naval Information. The main events for Atlantic Command occurred from 19 to 23 May 1960. On 19 May, a sail past of ships and a fly past of naval aircraft occurred at the Halifax waterfront. The following day, a Fleet Regatta in Bedford Basin and a Sunset Ceremony within the ramparts of Citadel Hill were performed. In the evening, an Anniversary Ball was held in the HMCS STADACONA gymnasium. 21 May was Navy Day and ships were open to the public; the last event was the consecration of the new Queen’s Colour on 23 May.

In the Pacific Command, the celebrations began with the consecration of the Queen’s Colour and a Golden Jubilee Dinner at Royal Roads on 4 May 1960. The Minister of National Defence, Major General, The Honourable George R. Pearkes, VC, PC, CC, CB, DSO, MC, CD and the Chief of Naval Staff attended both events. On 20 May, a Jubilee Ball took place in the HMCS NADEN gymnasium. The next day, the ships and establishments were opened to the public and, in the evening, the destroyers berthed in Victoria Inner Harbour turned on their backbone lighting. The navy participated in the Victoria Day Parade by providing a large marching contingent and five floats on 23 May. The last significant event was the Sunset Ceremony of 26 May in front of the Legislative Assembly Building in Victoria.

Both coastal command and the Naval Reserve marked the 50th Anniversary during the celebrations for the Battle of the Atlantic on Sunday 08 May 1960. A second pan-Canadian event was the utilization of special rubber stamps in all main post offices to cancel stamps from late April to June of the year. The stamps were French or English in accordance with the post office location. Another small occurrence was the presentation of naval ensigns to churches across the country. Many radio and television programs about the navy were aired at the national level during the year and many major Canadian newspapers published special supplements during the first half of May.

Traditional sunset ceremonies were conducted by a detachment from Atlantic Command composed of Guard of 80 members, complete with naval 12-pounder guns, and 50 men band. The demonstrations took place from 30 June to 07 July 1960 in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City.

The Divisions of the RCN(R) organized a myriad of local events; many of them organized balls, open houses, and participated in local events and radio interviews during the summer months. HMCS CARLETON supported the Canadian War Museum for an exhibition on the RCN. In May and June, the destroyers HMCS COLUMBIA and CHAUDIERE visited cities where Divisions were located on the St.Lawrence and Great Lakes in support of the anniversary.

The celebrations concluded by a 50th Anniversary Ball at the Chateau Laurier Hotel, in Ottawa, attended by the Governor General, His Excellency The Right Honourable Georges-Philias Vanier, PC, DSO, MC & Bar, CD, and his wife, on 20 October 1960. A naval band provided the music and the room was decorated with models of aircrafts and ships and banners. The last chapter of the celebrations was the presentation to their respective Commands by the province of Nova Scotia and British Columbia of Sterling Silver Drums marked with the badge of the RCN and the Coats of Arms of Canada.

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The Petition moves along...

May 1: Laurie Hawn, M.P. agrees to support petition
April 30: Sent draft petition to The Dominion Institute to seek their sponsorship
April 28: Sent draft petition to Captain(N) Pickingford, Project Manager, Canadian Navy Centennial Project
April 27: Sent petition to Blaine Barker of the Royal Canadian Naval Association and Bob Nixon of the Naval Officer's Association of Canada and Peter Dawe, Executive Director of the RMC Club
April 26: The Monarchist League of Canada members are supportive
April 25: Interesting - even heated - debate over at the Navy, Army, Air Force Forum, where the "Yeas" have it by a two-thirds majority.