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Subject > Armed Forces > Naval Forces and Merchant Navy

Date > 1900 > 1910-1919

Sir Wilfrid Laurier National Historic Site of Canada: End of a Long Reign

Type: Document

Wilfrid Laurier's penchant for compromise allowed him to remain in power for 15 years, earning him the nickname of the "Great Conciliator". But in 1911, this talent proved inadequate to the task of winning elections.

Site: Parks Canada

Consequences of the Naval Bill

Type: Document

Opposition by all groups to the new navy became an issue in the 1911 election that saw Laurier defeated. The navy was mothballed by the new government and a monetary contribution to the British Navy was made instead. Canada’s navy hung on until better times by retaining two mine-sweepers for training purposes.

Site: National Defence

Belmont Battery at Fort Rodd Hill, British Columbia

Type: Image

Built in 1898-1900 to protect the entrance to the Royal Navy (and later the Royal Canadian Navy) base on the Pacific, the battery has been restored to its appearance during the Second World War 1939-45. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

The War at Sea - Canada and the First World War

Type: Document

When the war began in 1914 Canada had an embryonic naval service consisting of less than 350 men and two ships. However, the Royal Canadian Navy soon assumed an important defensive role as anti-submarine, intelligence gathering, communication, mine sweeping and patrolling capabilities were added to it. These enhancements would form the nucleus of a future, effective naval force.

Site: Veterans Affairs Canada

The Royal Canadian Navy Created

Type: Document

The Naval Bill of 1910 created a Canadian navy with two obsolete British ships manned by British crews on loan, until Canadians could be recruited. Canadian Imperialists derided the acquisitions as being obsolete and a waste of money. Opposition by French Canadians to imperial entanglements were furthered by Henri Bourassa who championed the notion that the only real threat to Canada was the United States; since the British refused to confront the Americans - then there was no need for a navy.

Site: National Defence

The Canadian Navy League

Type: Document

The Canadian branch of the (British) Navy League lobbied for a Canadian Navy Militia to complement the Army, but found little political support due to the financial cost.

Site: National Defence

Advertisement for 'Twin Navy' tobacco, circa 1911

Type: Image

For the Canadians of the day, their new fleet was clearly linked with the Royal Navy. It is worth noting that the warship shown in this circa 1911 advertisement is much larger than anything then in service with the Royal Canadian Navy. Also, McAlpin Tobacco was the Canadian branch of a New York company. (Private collection)

Site: National Defence

Canada and the First World War - Canada and the War at Sea. 1914-1918

Type: Document

By 1918, German U-boats lurked off Canada’s east coast. At this time the Royal Canadian Navy was very small. As a result, Great Britain assumed direct responsibility for defending the sea approaches to Canada.

Site: Canadian War Museum

Beaumont-Hamel National Historic Site of Canada : Parks Canada's 3-D Tours: Defence of Canada

Type: Interactive Resource

Parks Canada has provided a virtual doorway to explore Canada's national historic military sites. Online tours enable the user to travel to the sites of famous battles or view a famous building. Both virtual and text tours are available. The Newfoundland Memorial Site is located within the French commune of Beaumont-Hamel, at the northern end of the region of the Somme, some nine kilometres northeast of the town of Albert. Opened in 1925, the site commemorates Newfoundlanders who served in the First World War.

Site: Parks Canada

Fleet Air Arm

Type: Document

During WW1, an Allied fleet air arm pioneered strategic bombing and the development of aircraft carriers as part of their war against submarines and the enemy coasts.

Site: National Defence