Monday, June 30, 2014

Halifax and Stadacona Part 1--North Gate

Time stood still for a short time for me a month ago during a trip to Halifax--first real visit for me since 1969. A major stop was what had once been HMCS Stadacona, now part of CFB Halifax.

In the photo at left is what was then a restricted access called North Gate, where I stood watch as guard officer, welcoming back sometimes-drunken (overserved, as we now say) matelots off leave. Fortunately, as a junior sublieutenant, I always had the assistance of very experienced petty officers and leading seamen.

Just in through the gate and around to the right is what is now a parking lot. One snowy November day in 1963, I was walking across the then open space, when a friend came toward me and told me John Kennedy had been assassinated. At once an already chilly day became very bleak.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

"Sally" in The Crow's Nest, and Slackers

In my blog post of June 6th, I talked about The Crow's Nest, former watering hole for allied naval officers doing convoy duty out of St. John's, and now a private club that does a great job of honouring the traditions of the navy.

Here is another Crow's Nest photo: "Sally", high in a corner on a prominent wall. H83, HMCS St. Laurent, was for some time my brother Tom's ship during World War II. Sally is fighting off mustachioed Hitlers, and bespectacled Tojos, while looking good at the same time.

 Next on the recent itinerary to the east coast was the old stomping ground, HMCS Stadacona, now Canadian Forces Base Stadacona. And an open base at that. Back in the day, I remember cold winter nights on duty in the now-deserted guard room. More on Slackers coming up.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Marine Artist Marc Magee

A short time ago I happened across the website of Marc Magee, a maritime artist who lives in Trenton, Ontario. Marc has done some very evocative paintings of Canadian warships, including submarines, corvettes, and destroyers.

Here is one of his paintings, "HMCS Oakville."

Marc works in acrylics, taking as subjects not only naval vessels but historic steamships and others. He did the cover painting for Roger Litwiller's new book,  White Ensign Flying: Corvette HMCS Trentonian. Marc's website is

And speaking of books, I'm getting very excited as the launch date for my submarine thriller "Terror on the Alert" approaches. Watch for it in September, this "Year of the Submarine."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cavalry Regimental Flags at Moreuil

Thanks to my friend Jean Paul Brunel for this image of the flags of, left to right, the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Fort Garry Horse, and Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians). They were on display at the memorial site dedicated to the battles at Moreuil and Rifle Woods, Picardy, France. The photo is dated June 10th, 2014.

Can readers comment to tell us what was going on at the time?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Crow's Nest--A Link to the RCN of Old

 The Crow's Nest is a private club in St. John's, Newfoundland that has a remarkable past. The location, right beside the War Memorial, was for two hundred years the site of an inn, "The Ship". Following the 19th century fire in the city, the present structure, beam and brick, was built, referred to as The Old Butler Building.

In 1942 Captain (D) [for Destroyer] E. R. Mainguy arranged, with private help, to lease the space occupied by the club for $1 per year for The Seagoing Officers Club. Here, Canadian and allied naval officers could relax ashore.

Mainguy, who was in charge, decreed that each visiting ship could have four square feet of wall space for a crest, or other display--to get some sort of order out of the members' propensity to scribble signatures and ships' names on any space available.

Today, the historic 2 x 2 foot installations remain. (More about them in a subsequent post.)

In the meantime, holding pride of place among the overhead beams, are the crests of the RCN's three O-boats: HMCS Ojibwa, senior, in the centre, flanked by her sisters Onondaga and Okanagan either side.
To top off the submarine theme is a periscope mounted in one corner. More about that later, too!

To read more about submarines, the cavalry, and related topics, see the "Subscribe" button to the upper right on this page. My newsletter dealing with such things comes out weekly.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Springtime on the Rock

At the end of May we flew east to, among other things, do some research into wartime naval activity and to reconnect with former shipmates. Before flying east, we checked the weather. Chilly. In spite of that, a certain westcoast naivete took over. Luckily not all the clothing we took along was designed for a west coast spring.

To say it was chilly was a gross understatement. It was at times foggy, wet, and windy. But beautiful for all that.

Our cousin Marilyn runs a bed and breakfast in Salmon Cove, on the west coast of Conception Bay. Above left is the view from her front porch. At right is the reverse view showing her B&B high above the beach.

This is the view from the beach looking seaward.

And yes, here is objective evidence of the weather conditions, taken just around the corner from Salmon Cove. This is a "good" year for icebergs.

 Marilyn's B&B is called William's Rest. Great scenery, warm hospitality, and no doubt weather to match, except when spring is late!