The Naval Service Act established the Royal Canadian Navy, 4 May 1910. The Act proposed a small navy under the control of the Canadian government, with emergency provision for transfer to the British Admiralty. PM Wilfrid Laurier had been under increasing pressure from the British government and Canadian imperialists to contribute directly to the Royal Navy, in the face of a growing challenge from the German navy.

The Act was bitterly opposed by French Canadian nationalists, led by Henri Bourassa, who opposed deeper involvement in imperial affairs. Laurier's compromise placated neither group, severely reduced his support in Québec, and ultimately contributed to his defeat in 1911. The navy survived, although it entered WWI with only 2 warships, the Rainbow and the Niobe.

See also Armed Forces.