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History In Canadian Waters

 
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marineguykingston



Joined: 27 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 2:52 pm    Post subject: History In Canadian Waters Reply with quote

IN HUDSON'S WAKE


[From Crowsnest Magazine Nov 1948, Vol 1 No 1]
When it was announced that the Royal Canadian Navy was to send the greater part of its Atlantic strength to the Hudson's Bay area, the world situation made it inevitable that in some non-naval quarters, the operation should be credited with international significance. The facts of the matter, however, had been plainly pointed out.

Canada's home waters were predominantly northern waters, and now that the R.C.N. was equipped with winterized ships, it was logical that it should equip its personnel with the training and familiarization that only the Sub-Arctic could provide. HMCS MAGNIFICENT accompanied by NOOTKA and HAIDA steamed to the upper end of Hudson Strait and gained well-concentrated experience of the type she sought. At Wakeham Bay, her northern terminal, she was far beyond any point on the Canadian Atlantic coast previously touched by R.C.N. warcraft. To the Tribal destroyers NOOTKA and HAIDA fell the lot of sailing on into Hudson Bay itself, including a call on Southampton Island at the northern extremity of that vast sheet of water.

From the operational point of view the cruise was a crisp success. E.T.A.'s were made in business-like fashion. Weather conditions were good enough to allow prearranged exercises, and bad enough to provide sound practical experience. Scientific observations were carried out to schedule and new soundings added to the chart where they would be of most use. Planning and execution were well nigh perfect. Yet, perhaps equally important, 1,200 seamen came into first hand contact with a section of the continent steeped in Canadian history and where the land and its inhabitants were less changed by the passing centuries than anywhere else in the Dominion.

On the morning of September 1 1948, when the ships were due to leave Halifax, the wind was blowing 90 miles an hour on Sable Island. Sailing was delayed 24 hours, but the hurricane had swept the sea and sky clean ahead of it, and until the force was well up the Labrador coast, flying conditions could scarcely have been improved upon. MAGNIFICENT's two squadrons, the Sea Furies of "803" and the Fireflies of "825", crowded in as much action as the servicing crews could sustain. "Operation Grindstone", a double strike against one of the Magdelene Islands, was the most ambitious single exercise. Flying crews were on deck at 0430 and it was past noon when the final flight of 11 aircraft returned, "beating up" the ships of the task force in masterly fashion as they did so.

After clearing the Straits of Belle Isle and heading along the Labrador coast, tracking and interception were made possible by courtesy of RCAF land-based aircraft. The appearance of the first icebergs was followed by chill fog, and flying ceased. The beauty of radar became apparent as the searching beam reached out unerringly and spotted the massive bergs in the night or the fog. Never was there need to ease the 14 knot advance, not even when the destroyers sidled alongside MAGNIFICENT to refuel. In the region of 62' North, just short of the turn into Hudson Bay, Wakeham Bay welcomed the force to the sub-Arctic mainland. A succession of desolate cliffs, opening out at daybreak, led the way to a fine anchorage among bare rockhills that rolled for fifty miles without a tree. There was no sign of life in the little cluster of huts and tents ashore until some time after the anchors dropped. Then the North came out to greet the ships - a number of magnificently handled kayaks carrying Eskimos who looked just like they do in the story books. Father Schneider, the settlement's lone white man and the only one speaking English, never lacked for someone to talk to when the liberty boats were ashore.

The latter, incidently, didn't have everything their own way. There is no dock at Wakeham Bay and it's a rocky beach. The tide rises and falls with considerable speed. Crews and passengers of the first boats ashore got some brisk "familiarization" with a surf whose temperature was 34 degrees F, when they climbed overboard to manhandle their suddenly grounded craft. MAGNIFICENT then headed south from Wakeham Bay and the destroyers rounded Cape Wostenholme into the great, enclosed sea which Henry Hudson, in his 70-ton cockleshell, explored in 1611.

Skirting the barren, precipitous headland between snow squalls and recalling that Hudson was ultimately set adrift in a small boat by his mutinous crew while in the Bay - the men in NOOTKA and HAIDA decided that making history in 1948 had its advantages. The atmosphere on the decks of the first Canadian warships ever to enter the Bay had its pioneering elements, but below decks the winterized ships were completely comfortable. A brief stop at Erik Cove revealed a tenantless Hudson's Bay post, though a neatly kept graveyard told of men and women who had lived and died in the treeless valley that broke the wall of frowning mountains. Big flocks of Canada Geese that filled the air when HAIDA exercised her close-range armament shortly after leaving the cove, raised an interesting point of sportsmanship. It was the judgment of the gunnery officer, however, that 4-inch high angle wasn't playing cricket - even for geese. To have steamed more than 2,000 miles into the wilderness and then to be confronted by a modern water front complete with grain elevator towering over 200 feet in the air, was, in experience not to be forgotten. That was what happened at Churchill.





From right to left alongside the National Harbours Board pier at Churchill Manitoba are NOOTKA (R96), HAIDA and the icebreaker N.B. McLean. ( RCN Photo)

The arrival of the destroyers coincided with that of the Governor General, who was making an informal visit, and the five days in Churchill were crowded. A sports meet and social events that included all members of the ships' companies had been enthusiastically set up at the base and were participated in with equal enthusiasm. Visitors to the ships were numerous. The general remark as bows headed again into the strengthening swell of Hudson's Bay was, "That was tops - and, boy, won't it be something to get a full night's sleep now we're at sea again."

Coral Harbour, on Southampton Island, was tricky going for the navigators, but the charts were considerably improved by the time sounding parties had put in a couple of vigorous days. There had been an air strip ten miles further along the island's low lying southern shore for several years, and the Coral Harbour Eskimos were the brightest and most civilized of any encountered on the cruise. This was the centre for walrus hunters, and the destroyers left heavily in ballast with ivory as souvenir collectors returned aboard laden with tusks and teeth. Guides and friends during the stay were Alan Scott, the Hudson's Bay Company manager, his wife, and Father Rio, the Roman Catholic missionary. These, with the Scotts' two young daughters, formed the white population.

Hudson Bay bade the ships a lusty farewell, playfully clubbing them with a half gale and snow squalls until they got around the corner into the Strait. At Port Burwell, the naval tanker HMCS DUNDALK was waiting with the fuel for the final 1,200 miles. Here too, the sub-Arctic produced a perfect Indian Summer day to make amends for the sailor's farewell administered by the Bay. A group of amiable Eskimos occupied the buildings ashore which had been used by traders, missionaries and the Mounties before their abandonment several years ago. A stranded iceberg at the harbour entrance gave it an authentic northern appearance.

This, being the last port of call, barter with the natives rose to fever pitch as souvenir seekers outdid one another. One Eskimo went home in his bare feet from a call alongside one of the destroyers. This set in motion some exaggerated accounts of close trading. It was generally agreed that the Eskimos had a good sense of current values, however. Back of all this, the serious work of the cruise continued with scientific and navigational data steadily accumulating. From Port Burwell, the ships headed on the final 1,200 mile leg of the long journey home.

It had been a perfect cruise with one heavily-shadowing exception. At Churchill, the two senior observers, Captain Sir Robert Stirling Hamilton, and Captain Benjamin Scott Custer, had taken off for Winnipeg and their plane had vanished in the wilderness. Both had been extremely popular shipmates. For twelve days, with hope slowly draining away, no word came front the great aerial search that was staged. Then, as the destroyers were being given some brisk treatment in the seas off Labrador, came the payoff in the form of a wireless message. The lost had been found! There could have been no more fitting conclusion to an historic voyage.
Shocked IN HUDSON'S WAKE


[From Crowsnest Magazine Nov 1948, Vol 1 No 1]
When it was announced that the Royal Canadian Navy was to send the greater part of its Atlantic strength to the Hudson's Bay area, the world situation made it inevitable that in some non-naval quarters, the operation should be credited with international significance. The facts of the matter, however, had been plainly pointed out.

Canada's home waters were predominantly northern waters, and now that the R.C.N. was equipped with winterized ships, it was logical that it should equip its personnel with the training and familiarization that only the Sub-Arctic could provide. HMCS MAGNIFICENT accompanied by NOOTKA and HAIDA steamed to the upper end of Hudson Strait and gained well-concentrated experience of the type she sought. At Wakeham Bay, her northern terminal, she was far beyond any point on the Canadian Atlantic coast previously touched by R.C.N. warcraft. To the Tribal destroyers NOOTKA and HAIDA fell the lot of sailing on into Hudson Bay itself, including a call on Southampton Island at the northern extremity of that vast sheet of water.

From the operational point of view the cruise was a crisp success. E.T.A.'s were made in business-like fashion. Weather conditions were good enough to allow prearranged exercises, and bad enough to provide sound practical experience. Scientific observations were carried out to schedule and new soundings added to the chart where they would be of most use. Planning and execution were well nigh perfect. Yet, perhaps equally important, 1,200 seamen came into first hand contact with a section of the continent steeped in Canadian history and where the land and its inhabitants were less changed by the passing centuries than anywhere else in the Dominion.

On the morning of September 1 1948, when the ships were due to leave Halifax, the wind was blowing 90 miles an hour on Sable Island. Sailing was delayed 24 hours, but the hurricane had swept the sea and sky clean ahead of it, and until the force was well up the Labrador coast, flying conditions could scarcely have been improved upon. MAGNIFICENT's two squadrons, the Sea Furies of "803" and the Fireflies of "825", crowded in as much action as the servicing crews could sustain. "Operation Grindstone", a double strike against one of the Magdelene Islands, was the most ambitious single exercise. Flying crews were on deck at 0430 and it was past noon when the final flight of 11 aircraft returned, "beating up" the ships of the task force in masterly fashion as they did so.

After clearing the Straits of Belle Isle and heading along the Labrador coast, tracking and interception were made possible by courtesy of RCAF land-based aircraft. The appearance of the first icebergs was followed by chill fog, and flying ceased. The beauty of radar became apparent as the searching beam reached out unerringly and spotted the massive bergs in the night or the fog. Never was there need to ease the 14 knot advance, not even when the destroyers sidled alongside MAGNIFICENT to refuel. In the region of 62' North, just short of the turn into Hudson Bay, Wakeham Bay welcomed the force to the sub-Arctic mainland. A succession of desolate cliffs, opening out at daybreak, led the way to a fine anchorage among bare rockhills that rolled for fifty miles without a tree. There was no sign of life in the little cluster of huts and tents ashore until some time after the anchors dropped. Then the North came out to greet the ships - a number of magnificently handled kayaks carrying Eskimos who looked just like they do in the story books. Father Schneider, the settlement's lone white man and the only one speaking English, never lacked for someone to talk to when the liberty boats were ashore.

The latter, incidently, didn't have everything their own way. There is no dock at Wakeham Bay and it's a rocky beach. The tide rises and falls with considerable speed. Crews and passengers of the first boats ashore got some brisk "familiarization" with a surf whose temperature was 34 degrees F, when they climbed overboard to manhandle their suddenly grounded craft. MAGNIFICENT then headed south from Wakeham Bay and the destroyers rounded Cape Wostenholme into the great, enclosed sea which Henry Hudson, in his 70-ton cockleshell, explored in 1611.

Skirting the barren, precipitous headland between snow squalls and recalling that Hudson was ultimately set adrift in a small boat by his mutinous crew while in the Bay - the men in NOOTKA and HAIDA decided that making history in 1948 had its advantages. The atmosphere on the decks of the first Canadian warships ever to enter the Bay had its pioneering elements, but below decks the winterized ships were completely comfortable. A brief stop at Erik Cove revealed a tenantless Hudson's Bay post, though a neatly kept graveyard told of men and women who had lived and died in the treeless valley that broke the wall of frowning mountains. Big flocks of Canada Geese that filled the air when HAIDA exercised her close-range armament shortly after leaving the cove, raised an interesting point of sportsmanship. It was the judgment of the gunnery officer, however, that 4-inch high angle wasn't playing cricket - even for geese. To have steamed more than 2,000 miles into the wilderness and then to be confronted by a modern water front complete with grain elevator towering over 200 feet in the air, was, in experience not to be forgotten. That was what happened at Churchill.





From right to left alongside the National Harbours Board pier at Churchill Manitoba are NOOTKA (R96), HAIDA and the icebreaker N.B. McLean. ( RCN Photo)

The arrival of the destroyers coincided with that of the Governor General, who was making an informal visit, and the five days in Churchill were crowded. A sports meet and social events that included all members of the ships' companies had been enthusiastically set up at the base and were participated in with equal enthusiasm. Visitors to the ships were numerous. The general remark as bows headed again into the strengthening swell of Hudson's Bay was, "That was tops - and, boy, won't it be something to get a full night's sleep now we're at sea again."

Coral Harbour, on Southampton Island, was tricky going for the navigators, but the charts were considerably improved by the time sounding parties had put in a couple of vigorous days. There had been an air strip ten miles further along the island's low lying southern shore for several years, and the Coral Harbour Eskimos were the brightest and most civilized of any encountered on the cruise. This was the centre for walrus hunters, and the destroyers left heavily in ballast with ivory as souvenir collectors returned aboard laden with tusks and teeth. Guides and friends during the stay were Alan Scott, the Hudson's Bay Company manager, his wife, and Father Rio, the Roman Catholic missionary. These, with the Scotts' two young daughters, formed the white population.

Hudson Bay bade the ships a lusty farewell, playfully clubbing them with a half gale and snow squalls until they got around the corner into the Strait. At Port Burwell, the naval tanker HMCS DUNDALK was waiting with the fuel for the final 1,200 miles. Here too, the sub-Arctic produced a perfect Indian Summer day to make amends for the sailor's farewell administered by the Bay. A group of amiable Eskimos occupied the buildings ashore which had been used by traders, missionaries and the Mounties before their abandonment several years ago. A stranded iceberg at the harbour entrance gave it an authentic northern appearance.

This, being the last port of call, barter with the natives rose to fever pitch as souvenir seekers outdid one another. One Eskimo went home in his bare feet from a call alongside one of the destroyers. This set in motion some exaggerated accounts of close trading. It was generally agreed that the Eskimos had a good sense of current values, however. Back of all this, the serious work of the cruise continued with scientific and navigational data steadily accumulating. From Port Burwell, the ships headed on the final 1,200 mile leg of the long journey home.

It had been a perfect cruise with one heavily-shadowing exception. At Churchill, the two senior observers, Captain Sir Robert Stirling Hamilton, and Captain Benjamin Scott Custer, had taken off for Winnipeg and their plane had vanished in the wilderness. Both had been extremely popular shipmates. For twelve days, with hope slowly draining away, no word came front the great aerial search that was staged. Then, as the destroyers were being given some brisk treatment in the seas off Labrador, came the payoff in the form of a wireless message. The lost had been found! There could have been no more fitting conclusion to an historic voyage.
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San Juan Cruiser
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2006 11:21 am    Post subject: San Juans Reply with quote

Interesting about Hudson Bay but as for me I'm glad the US ended up with at least some of the San Juan Islands. Great place. Of course so is the Canadian San Juans.
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Reel Loose



Joined: 10 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 2:20 pm    Post subject: San Juan Islands Reply with quote

the crabbing is better in the US san juans
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