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Sinking of the SS Caribou
The SS Caribou was a passenger and train ferry that operated in the Cabot Strait between Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and North Sydney, Nova Scotia. On 14 October 1942, the German submarine U-69 sank the vessel, causing the worst loss of life in Canadian waters during the Second World War.
Harry George DeWolf, naval officer and veteran of the Second World War, vice-admiral, Chief of Naval Staff, Royal Canadian Navy (born 26 June 1903 in Bedford, NS). DeWolf was best known as the commanding officer of HMCS Haida, one of Canada’s eight Tribal Class destroyers during the Second World War. DeWolf entered the navy in 1918 and retired in 1961. A new class of offshore patrol vessels has been named in his honour.
Margaret Martha Brooke, MBE, dietician, naval officer, war hero, paleontologist (born 10 April 1915 in Ardath, SK; died 9 January 2016 in Victoria, BC). Brooke was a nursing sister during the Second World War and survived the torpedoing of the SS Caribou. For her heroism immediately after the sinking, she was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), the first Canadian nursing sister so recognized.
His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Niobe was a 11,000-ton Diadem-class heavy protected cruiser, which was originally commissioned into Britain’s Royal Navy. In 1910, Britain sold the vessel to Canada, where it became one of the first two warships of the new Royal Canadian Navy. Niobe saw a few years’ service, including briefly during the First World War. In 1915, due to the ship’s deteriorating condition, it was tied up in Halifax’s naval dockyard and used as a depot ship.
Canadian Armed Forces
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is the military arm of the federal government. Its role is to defend Canada’s security, interests and values and to contribute to international peace and security. There are 68,000 Regular Force and 27,000 Reserve Force members in the CAF, which includes the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Members of these three services can also be assigned to different commands, including Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC), Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The CAF is supported by 24,000 DND civilians, who are not part of the CAF.
Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service
The Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS) was established on 31 July 1942 during the Second World War. It was the naval counterpart to the Canadian Women’s Army Corps and the Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division, which had preceded it in 1941. The WRCNS was established as a separate service from the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). It was disbanded on 31 August 1946.
Carol Elizabeth Duffus (Primary Source)
Carol Elizabeth Duffus was a Staff Officer and Tactical Table Trainer with the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS) during the Second World War. Women such as Carol Duffus made important contributions to the war effort, carving a path for future generations of women to join the Canadian Armed Forces. Listen to Duffus’ first-hand account of her service.
Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.
Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer of British Columbia (2018 to present), epidemiologist, physician (born 1965 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island). Dr. Bonnie Henry is best known for leading British Columbia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also worked to eradicate polio and to contain Ebola and SARS. Henry is a family care physician and a specialist in preventative medicine. She is the first woman to serve as BC’s provincial health officer.
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Documenting the Second World War
When Canada declared war on Germany on 10 September 1939, tens of thousands of Canadians enlisted to serve in the army, navy, air force and supporting services. The military scrambled to buy equipment, train recruits and prepare for war. Little thought was given, at first, to documenting the war effort. By 1940, however, the military was recruiting historians, most notably Charles Stacey, to collect records and write accounts of Canadian operations. In the following years, artists, photographers and filmmakers also served with the various branches of the armed forces. Today, their diligent work provides a rich visual and written catalogue of Canada’s history in the Second World War.
Documenting the First World War
The First World War forever changed Canada. Some 630,000 Canadians enlisted from a nation of not yet eight million. More than 66,000 were killed. As the casualties mounted on the Western Front, an expatriate Canadian, Sir Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook), organized a program to document Canada’s war effort through art, photography and film. This collection of war art, made both in an official capacity and by soldiers themselves, was another method of forging a legacy of Canada’s war effort.