Remember the Rainbow Redux: An Alternate Royal Canadian Navy

In that sense that Canada-Alaska boundary dispute of 1903 was an element in awakening a realization that the UK held it's own interests as paramount and was quite willing to throw Canada under the bus if it advanced it's interests elsewhere. It was a main root cause in Laurier's determination to have a more independent Canada. In OTL it took until after WW1 to come to fruition but in TTL it may push the navies cause a bit more.
Very well said, the Canada-Alaska boundary dispute alongside the complete withdrawn of the Royal Navy from both Halifax and Esquimalt was seen as a major issue. Canada was effectively left defenseless in regards to stationed warships to directly combat enemy vessels, they took over the questionably useful battery of coastal defense guns spread around vital points however, they were not so valuable against raiders or warships who declined to come into range. Canada's defense basically balanced on the lynchpin of the Royal Navy being able to run over at the drop of a hat and defend them, in hindsight it's rather amusing how shoddy of a plan that is even with the Royal Navy being the largest naval power on the planet at that point.
 
I am very much looking forward to reading this timeline when I am done mine. At this point I am trying to silo myself, to avoid cross-contamination of timelines. I find I am sometimes very suggestible.
 
I am very much looking forward to reading this timeline when I am done mine. At this point I am trying to silo myself, to avoid cross-contamination of timelines. I find I am sometimes very suggestible.
Thank you very much, I really do feel your sentiment. I haven't been able to tear myself away from your story and I have already noticed some similarities in my timeline eventually but I don't think it's that much of an issue. Although I can't wait for a keyboard warrior to accuse me of ripping you off in the future :coldsweat:. I'm not simply saying this is to try and get you to read my story however, I think you should be relatively safe from cross-contamination up until the deviation point of my story itself as everything written about so far is as it happened historically and predates your timeline chronologically. Regardless, I appreciate the anticipation!
 
This is really a fascinating TL, covering a fascinating segment of history I didn't even know about. I'm honestly surprised Canada would be so resistant to the idea of a navy, although having read through the thread I guess I can sort of understand their position. Plus it's interesting to see the difference in opinions between Canada and Australia when it comes to naval development.
Thank you very much, I'm aware we're lacking any large bits of "action" but we're slowly working our way towards it! Canada and Australia are an interesting dichotomy when it comes to naval development especially before and during WWI, comparing the relatively failure of Canada to the success of Australia is very interesting. Although obviously in this timeline I hope to improve such a situation, we'll see how it works out.



Very goods point overall. I'd like to add though that Canada has generally been adverse to any kind of large military expenditure and naval developments are at the top of the list regarding large budgetary spending by the federal government. One of the main issues was the perceived presence of the Royal Navy and it's ability to sweep any enemies away from the seas around Canada to keep it's dominion safe, obviously in our timeline this didn't exactly happen and this timeline, that falsehood will be laid especially bare. Canada has a major export and import maritime trade network on both coasts factoring into it's overland trade with the United States, such lifelines are quite important in both peacetime and wartime, especially in regards to enemy raiders. We shall see how helpful the US is in times of peril, although I venture to say they won't be extremely helpful in the time I'm considering. Australia is much different yes largely do to their isolation and close nature to many potential hostile powers throughout history, China, Japan, etc. You never know, Canada might adopt many of the ideals and rationales similar to Australia, time will only tell. Thank you for the feedback as well, I enjoy interacting with you all and reading your comments!
To be frank, it was not just Canadian politicians either as the RN and British politicians had issue with Canada having their own navy. There are two perfect examples. One is what happened with HMCS Niobe when she came to the end of her operational lifespan. Kingsmill attempted to switch her with a newer Cruiser, but the RN would only give Canada HMS Sutlej, which was not in much better a condition. Another was when Kingsmill made the suggestion in 1915/1916 to build Destroyers in the Vickers Yard in Montreal, which was also building H-Class Submarines. But both the First Sea Lord and First Lord, Sir Arthur Balfour, instead said that it would be better served building Merchant ships and put pressure on Borden to scrap the plan, which he did.
 
To be frank, it was not just Canadian politicians either as the RN and British politicians had issue with Canada having their own navy. There are two perfect examples. One is what happened with HMCS Niobe when she came to the end of her operational lifespan. Kingsmill attempted to switch her with a newer Cruiser, but the RN would only give Canada HMS Sutlej, which was not in much better a condition. Another was when Kingsmill made the suggestion in 1915/1916 to build Destroyers in the Vickers Yard in Montreal, which was also building H-Class Submarines. But both the First Sea Lord and First Lord, Sir Arthur Balfour, instead said that it would be better served building Merchant ships and put pressure on Borden to scrap the plan, which he did.
It's a very relevant point that the sometimes blatant elitism and abuse of the Canadian Navy by the Admiralty was very clear to see, although I do kind of see the point about not making destroyers during WWI due to the limited nature of Canadian shipbuilding. Regardless though, this neglect was pretty clearly felt by all of the officers that suffered through this period and eventually got into flag ranks during WWII, hence you see boondoggles like the batch of Canadian Tribals going on. There's a very relevant quote in the previous chapter. Canadian political limitations were obviously something the Admiralty had trouble understanding.

Fisher went on record with his new director, confiding that “I know the Canadian people and that they are an unpatriotic grasping people who only stick us for the good that they can get out of us, and we ought to do nothing whatsoever for them.”
 
We Finally Did It?
As the Canadian Annual Review reported on the supposed Australian naval scheme, the issue itself was thrust front and center in Canadian politics once again. The proposal for the Australians read as such:

“This scheme calls for responsibility for local naval defense and the provision of 6 torpedo-boat destroyers, 9 submarines and 2 depot ships, at a cost of $6,387,500 together with the maintenance of 79 officers and 1,125 men provided by the imperial government with as many as possible taken from among Australians. The administrative control of the flotilla was to rest with the Commonwealth government, but the officers and men would form part of the Imperial Navy and would be subject to the King’s regulations. While in Australian waters, they would be under Commonwealth authority, but in other waters they would pass under the control of the senior imperial naval officer. The annual expense and maintenance would amount to $930,000 and the repairs be effected in local shipbuilding yards.”

This Australian plan rather neatly aligned with what Canada had been proposing, a force for defense of the dominion that was also autonomous. While some of the detailing and the exact plan itself would need to be different, it was proof that there was indeed precedent to what Canada desired to do. The goodwill from the Quebec celebrations were still fresh in the minds of local residents and surprisingly, the calls for direct financial aid to the Royal Navy and the typical French contrarian attitudes were drying up somewhat. It was becoming clear to everybody involved that the time to strike regarding implementation of something was nearly upon them. The French Canadians were generally busy regarding an ongoing dispute about language rights and religion in Quebec and were currently ignorant of the defense issues in the government. Surprisingly though, a disagreement came from the Canadian Military Gazette, the mouthpiece of the Militia. Concerns were voiced that “much study should be made before any large expenditure will be sanctioned in this country for naval purposes, especially if such would come at the cost of a reduction of the militia vote. A strong land force is better for imperial interests as a whole than a baby fleet would be.” While the Militia itself seemed to be somewhat ignorant about the value of a naval force, it is rather understandable for them to see a Canadian navy as a threat especially if it detracts from their already thin budget.

Regardless, the upcoming election held all sides firm on the issue. Hauling up a relatively large issue into Parliament was a death sentence and therefore even though the Conservatives and Liberals generally agreed on the issue, it was left until after the election. The Conservative party lost the election yet again and therefore had to spend some time rebuilding the party structure, allowing the Liberal party a small lead to potentially jump start the required legislation. In fact, it was the Conservative party who made the first major move. George Foster, the previous Minister of Marine and Fisheries in 1885 and the man who had overseen the founding of the Fisheries Protection Service, presented the House of Commons with a notice of motion. It read as such:

“In view of her great and varied resources, of her geographical position and national environment, and of that spirit of self-help and self-respect which alone befits a strong and growing people, Canada should no longer delay in assuming her proper share of the responsibility and financial burden incident to the suitable protection of her exposed coastline and great seaports.”

In the wake of the Foster resolution, Kingsmill put together a rough draft of a report for Minister Brodeur regarding “how we should commence our work of assisting in the defense of our coasts.” While very much a preliminary document, Kingsmill’s experience allowed him to deliver a “methodical yet realistic” plan to supplement existing government policy, IE the Fisheries Protection Service in the future. Originally, this report envisioned doing little more than improving existing establishments. Improvements listed things such as a military dockyard in Quebec, a signal service connecting all important lighthouses in Canada and the start of a training regime at the Halifax dockyard. From this training system, it was hoped to have enough men ready after the first year to crew either a destroyer or scout cruiser. Kingsmill was of the opinion that under this scheme, Canada would largely be relegated to destroyers and small cruisers for the foreseeable future. Kingsmill was careful to cater his reports to the tepid Brodeur, methodically informing the Minister of every cost for construction or upkeep of various platforms. Forming his words carefully, Kingsmill would tell Brodeur, “the government should focus for the time being, on the countries development as in that is our only hope of some day being in a position to defend our coasts as they should be. If we embrace a project of too much ambition too quickly, our young and partially developed country may if not wreck itself, at any rate seriously injure its internal economy. On the other hand, though, to spend money on partial defense or rather inadequate defense is to waste it.”

While these events were ongoing in Canada, it was obviously time for Europe to throw another wrench into their plans. This would become quickly known as the "Dreadnought Crisis” when Reginald McKeena (First Lord of the Admiralty) introduced the estimates for the Royal Navy in March of 1909, during which he had a shocking revelation. To the surprise of the British public, the Admiralty anticipated a massive upturn in the German shipbuilding, so much so that the Royal Navy would be outnumbered in dreadnoughts by 1912. McKenna would suggest that an additional 2 dreadnoughts be added to the 1909-1910 estimates which after the frenzy the British press, public and government fell into, was rather easy to push through. This was hoisted by the Admiralty as the only way to retain their grasp on worldwide sea power, effectively tying the governments hands in the matter. The pandemonium in the press quickly crossed the Atlantic and took hold in Canada to a point, drawing even more attention to the Foster motion. Even with that hold though, Canadian policy on the issue was rather detached and very critical of the seemingly manufactured panic over the issue. The Canadian Annual Review very accurately summarized the general Canadian response to this crisis:

“Distance from the scene and non-appreciation of what naval power and supremacy really meant to the individual as well as the Empire, was responsible to a certain extent for the somewhat critical attitude assumed by the Canadian press in regard to the British ‘panic’ and for the tendency to ‘go slow’ in speech and action.”


A rather iconic colorized photo of the power of the Royal Navy in the past and in the present as HMS Dreadnought, namesake of the adeptly named crisis, passes HMS Victory.

Canadian historians generally attribute this lack of a knee jerk reaction by Canada as a whole to a belief in the fact that the Royal Navy by itself was able to keep the Germans in check on their own. Alongside the fact that Canada seemed to be quickly approaching a point where she wanted to be responsible for her own defense, New Zealand’s ‘call to action’ of confirming the nation would sponsor a dreadnought in the face of the crisis was rather worrying for some parties in Canada. This issue brought out every member of each party and how they fell around this issue. Various parties requested a single or pair of dreadnoughts to defend the Canadian coasts in the “one for the Pacific and one for the Atlantic” layout, although due to the overall costs this was never really a serious proposition. The Montreal based paper La Presse was largely concerned with the fact that Canada should retain its ability to participate or abstain from any unrelated British war against another faction, Canada should not merely be yet another pawn for Britain to throw freely onto the board. The Ottawa Citizen had the opinion that direct financial contributions were the only valuable option able to be put forward by Canada and in their words, “it must be apparent that the place of the colonies to defend their coasts is in the line of the British dreadnought fleet. The fate of that fleet will decide the fate of our colonies. If that fleet met with disaster, any trifling squadron, or warlike revenue cutters, or cheap warships, would only be so much more loot to the conquerors.” Out of all of the news outlets that spoke though, the two that caught the eyes and ears of the Liberals was the Montreal Herald and the Toronto Globe.

The Herald stated that “the importance of the action taken by cabinet in definitely preparing for a Canadian navy development has been evident for years that such steps would be taken. Canadian development in the past has came at times the British were no longer able to bear the burden alone, as in their departure in 1905 from various bases in Halifax and Esquimalt. Now the hint is given of the possible inability of the British Navy alone to keep the ocean free for shipping, Canada again avows her readiness to step in and take her share.” As regards to the Globe, their statement was that “the position laid down at the colonial conferences should now be accepted as the settled naval policy. What is done by Canada must be done deliberately along the lines of Canadian policy, and in the light of consultation with the imperial government. The details must be settled, not by passing or panicky popular opinion but, as Mr Asquith says, by the responsible authorities on the advice of experts. Whether it be dreadnoughts or fast cruisers or torpedo boats, and where and when and how many, are questions not for the man in the street, but for the government.”

George Foster would return to parliament to further discuss his previous motion. In doing so, Foster leveled that there was simply two options spread before the nation as a whole. A monetary or purely ship based contribution or the fact that Canada would assume the defense of her own ports and commerce in cooperation with the Admiralty. Foster personally accepted the fact that monetary contribution would be very acceptable to the Admiralty itself, he did not view it as a largely popular option within Canada itself. Foster was almost certain that Canada would have a naval force of its own in the future and decreed that “the time is ripe to see something grafted on the soil of Canada’s nationhood.” In the eyes of Foster, the ships of the Fishery Protection Service were nothing more than “simple children’s toys” when put up against an actual hostile naval force and therefore, an expansion of the Fisheries Service would not be enough to ensure Canada’s defense. Foster would personally advocate in the end for Canada to contribute a dreadnought to Britain’s plight. Prime Minister Laurier would rebuke Foster with the statement of “we are not to be carried away, we are not to be stampeded from what has been the settled policy and deliberate course which we have laid down, by any hasty, feverish action, however spectacular such action may be.”


George Eulas Foster and his wife G.E. Foster pose for a photograph, date unknown.

Laurier closed with the fact that the Canadian naval development had been ongoing since 1902 and the fact that what the Conservatives were proposing as nothing new and something he generally agreed upon. Lord Tweedmouth’s remarks at the previous conference were distributed, hoping to give the needed legitimacy to Laurier’s statements. Robert Borden, the conservative opposition leader spoke next and echoed Laurier’s general statements. He was opposed to contributions to the Royal Navy unless it was an absolute emergency, pointing out that Canada had been undertaking a ‘long gestation period for naval development’ in the past. In one of his speeches he said, “I do not think I am making any statement in breach of confidence when I say that I am thoroughly aware that the late Raymond Prefontaine thoroughly intended to establish a Canadian naval militia or naval force of some kind. He told me so about a year before his death. Mr. Prefontaine was a man of large views and of great courage, and it may be that policy which would have been carried out otherwise has not been carried out owning to the present head of that department finding it necessary to devote his attention to other matters.” Borden closed with his opinion that he recommends making contributions in an emergency however, Parliament must decide if this is an emergency or not.

While the rest of the debate generally consisted of hollow patriotic and imperialistic speeches and jargon, parliament seemed to eventually favor the formation of a Canadian Naval policy and a Navy itself, it seemed there was no immediate serious work to push dreadnoughts or contributions. During this political signalling, Borden and Laurier retreated from the stands to have a private discussion and while that conversation was never recorded, Laurier and Borden emerged from their discussion seemingly united in the issue. As such, Laurier put forward a resolution that would cement the organization of the future Canadian Navy.

“This house fully recognizes the duty of the people of Canada, as they increase in numbers and wealth to assume in larger measure the responsibilities in national defense. The house is of opinion that under the present constitutional relations between mother country and the self-governing dominions, the payment of regular and periodical contributions to the imperial treasury for naval and military purposes would not, so far as Canada is concerned, be the most satisfactory solution of the question of defense. The house will cordially approve of any necessary expenditure to promote the speedy organization of a Canadian naval service in cooperation with and in close relation to the imperial navy, along the lines suggested by the Admiralty at the last imperial conference, and in full sympathy of commerce, the safety of the empire and the peace of the world. The house expresses firm conviction that whenever the need arises the Canadian people will be found ready and willing to make any sacrifice that is required to give to the imperial authorities the most loyal and hearty cooperation in every movement for the maintenance of integrity and honor of the empire.”

The resolution being passed unanimously by all present parties was proof that at least some small victory was finally seized by Laurier. His commitment to patiently establish some kind of naval framework along the lines acceptable to all parties seem to have paid off as the goals of Laurier, Borden, Brodeur and even Prefontaine before them had finally started to come true. Now that the house was somewhat behind all future development and Laurier already had some of his tools required such as Kingsmill, they went to work grasping their power. The main upcoming challenge was for Laurier and his party to keep the naval development within the acceptable bounds of the previous established policy and stop it from ballooning out into a garbled mess. In response to George Foster requesting additional information on the interpretation of his previous resolution, Laurier responded with “the government has decided that, as shortly as possible after prorogation, the Minister of Marine and Fisheries alongside the Minister of Militia shall proceed to London for the purpose of conferring with the Admiralty as to the best means to be adopted to give effect to our previous resolution.” Laurier’s sudden flip from caution to decisive action was surprising to parliament however, Laurier desired to settle the issue of a naval force as quickly as possible (correctly) deducing that allowing such a bill to drag along would do nothing but expose the divides within the house.


Prime Minister Laurier depicted in a 1909 Toronto Globe political cartoon leading a hypothetical Canadian Navy, somewhat fitting and ironic given the ultimate fate of his naval plans/

Dissent would come from a strange position though, from none other but the Governor General of Canada, Earl Grey. To a point, it seems Grey had overstepped his authority in his recommendations which read as such:

“I have serious concerns that this proposed policy will not be regarded either in Canada or in England as a very effective contribution to the solution of the defense problem, unless it is followed up by a display of vigor in formulating a plan and in carrying that plan into effect such as past experience does not encourage us to hope from Mr. Brodeur. The necessity of taking prompt business action in this matter makes it desirable that the change of minister at the head of the marine and fisheries department which you have more than once informed me was impending, should be hurried up. I know you will have to face a little criticism in Quebec, but you are quite big enough and strong enough to disregard that criticism. If you share my view that the duty which Canada owes to the empire is to put the best businessman she has got at the head of the marine department, Mr. Sifton is the best man possible.”

Clifford Sifton was a member of the Liberal cabinet until 1905 when he departed to protest government issues regarding western located schools. He had previous voiced the opinion of being completely against any kind of a Canadian Navy and although he was still a member of the Liberal party, his attitude towards Quebec was rather shaky at best. Laurier was in no position to throw out one of his closest allies and an asset in Quebec over the whim of the governor general, especially not with what was about to happen. Laurier expressed to Grey that Brodeur was in the middle of preparing his plans to reorganize the department and would have them in front of him soon.

Around this same time, Kingsmill finished finalizing his previous report on what he in his professional opinion thought Canada would require for a naval force. Kingsmill recommended that both Halifax and Esquimalt would need to have their defenses and general equipment put into ‘good order and modernized’ alongside the fact that training should begin immediately on each coast. As the fishery on British Columbia was extremely important and basically unprotected, Kingsmill advocated for immediate purchase of two small cruisers able to train 200 men be acquired for the West Coast. The Atlantic approach was rather similar with a cruiser of the Apollo class being loaned alongside 2 torpedo boat destroyers in order to train roughly 300 men. Kingsmill desired these loaned ships to be either returned eventually or purchased and completely under the command of Canada, although with Royal Navy officers and partial personnel until they could be replaced. Alongside this, Kingsmill advocated for Canadian industry to immediately start construction of 2 ocean going destroyers and 2 coastal destroyers for the Atlantic while having 4 coastal destroyers for the Pacific, small enough to be able to be transported whole or in parts to BC by rail to avoid having to go around Cape Horn to reach the West Coast. These recommendations were completely reasonable in comparison to the scope of the navy the government had seemed to have envisioned, mainly that of coastal protection and fisheries enforcement. Kingsmill himself would state:

“It is with a strong feeling of diffidence that I submit, single-handed, a scheme of naval defense for Canada and wish to say that my views are given after due consideration of the fact that monetary contribution alone is out of the question. We must develop our naval assistance to the empire with this end always in view, that the Canadian Navy is to be under the control of the dominion government, the question of its disposition in the event of war being a matter for this in authority at the time; also that at an early date we must use the newly started naval service for the protection of our fisheries, in fact, that fisheries protection and training go hand in hand, thus using the appropriation for the former in carrying out the latter, which of course, will be a considerable assistance and in the end a better use will have been made of the money.”


Apollo class cruiser HMS Retribution in drydock, likely in Halifax, Nova Scotia. One of the many sister ships to the eventually infamous HMCS Rainbow.

While the scheme itself was generally acceptable and well thought-out, the Canadian government was very hesitant to adopt anything physical without explicit Admiralty approval, even if this scheme seemed itself to fit the plan Lord Tweedmouth had put forward in the 1907 conference. Needs and opinions change in the Admiralty especially with constantly coming and going appointees. Therefore, Canada would need to wait until their Minister met with the Admiralty to decide about the fate of the stillborn Canadian Navy. Before the trip commenced though, Militia Minister Frederick Borden had significant issues with the potential for naval development in Canada. Being asked the previous year to attempt to cut his departments estimates by around $1,000,000, he had only cut a little over half of that to less than desirable results. Some factions were voicing the opinion that a navy might be more important to national defense than a Militia and the land-based force was largely for peacekeeping purposes at home, such a large budget was not needed. Robert Borden had alluded to the fact that the naval budget might be half that given to the militia, therefore coming out to $3,000,000. This was reasonable as Kingsmill would later point out however, the Militia Minister was rather afraid this money would come at the cost to his own department. He would press Laurier repeatedly about some kind of a commitment that the Militia would not suffer and as Laurier needed Sir Borden’s assistance in Europe on the naval matter, no ill feelings could be afforded. Laurier assured Borden that the Militia would not suffer as both services were viewed as necessary to the security of the nation.

The plan for the upcoming meeting with the Admiralty was put before Governor Grey by Laurier, “Brodeur and Borden have their general instructions which seem to me to be sufficiently precise. The first object of the conference is to lay down a plan of action, and towards that plan we will gravitate fast or slow, big or small, according to the development of our financial resources. The reasonable goal seems to me that we should do as much for the navy as for the militia, as this is well understood by Borden and Brodeur. It is also well understood by them that we will not be able to reach that goal the first year.”

As the pair of Ministers departed to Britain, the debate did not cease. The competing parties pushed for their own interests, even within a common goal. One party wished to deliver prompt implementation of their plans while the other worked to keep moderation and Admiralty approval at the forefront of any choices.
 
That photo of Dreadnought and Victory never gets old, a very good choice of photos. It is going to be rather interesting to see how the Australian and Canadian naval services will compare as some others have said earlier, I guess Australia could be hoisted up as the gold standard of a commonwealth nation investing in their navy since they had a battlecruiser and everything. I wonder if Canada might get a battleship or battlecruiser?
 
That photo of Dreadnought and Victory never gets old, a very good choice of photos. It is going to be rather interesting to see how the Australian and Canadian naval services will compare as some others have said earlier, I guess Australia could be hoisted up as the gold standard of a commonwealth nation investing in their navy since they had a battlecruiser and everything. I wonder if Canada might get a battleship or battlecruiser?
I'm not going to spoil that however at the minimum, there may be some debate within the government about acquiring capital ships. If this is historical or not, we will have to wait and see :)
 
Into The Lions Den
Although Prime Minister Laurier was invited to participate in the summer of 1909 ‘Imperial Conference for the Naval and Military Defense of the Empire’, he considered it unwise to send all of the pro-naval contingent across the pond in case of some local political incident. Due to this and his somewhat tiring nature of the subject matter, Laurier dispatched the familiar duo of the Ministers of Marine and Militia, Brodeur and Borden, accompanied by their advising staff, Rear Admiral Kingsmill, and Major General Lake. The original purpose of this meeting was to solidify the small flotilla strategy of home defense being looked into by both Australia and Canada but following a recent report from the China squadron, that soon changed. The Admiral in commanded had sent an assessment to the Admiralty outlining how the coastal defenses in the area of Hong Kong had degraded heavily in the past few years. Fisher quickly denounced the legitimacy of these claims, stating that Britain could sent a squadron of powerful dreadnoughts and armored cruisers to defend the area at a moments notice. This opened up a particularly troublesome can of worms as while the renegotiation of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance meant they had powerful allies in the sector, shifting large Royal Navy resources to the East would potential antagonize both Japan and Germany into a response.

This alongside the fact that Fisher had yet to replace the ships on foreign stations he had pulled out and scrapped years earlier, pushed the Admiralty to suggest a new idea. The naval defense discussion started with its familiar conciliatory remarks, making sure to include all of the financial or otherwise contributions of the dominions to the Empire. The Admiralty fully explained that any help, financial, or otherwise was appreciated however, it had a new stipulation. If Dominions wanted to build their own local naval forces, the Admiralty wished to have a homogeneous and sound foundation on which a national navy could be built, essentially a commitment to future actions. This would minimize logistical strain on the dominions and allow them to integrate into each others’ formations if found to be necessary. As the Admiralty would state:

“A dominion government desirous of creating a navy should aim at forming a distinct fleet unit; and the smallest unit is one which, while manageable in time of peace, is capable of being used in it’s component parts in time of war. The advantage of a unit of this kind if that it is capable of rapid combination with other similar fleet units. We have now, as you know, in the far east, the eastern fleet. There are three divisions, the Australian division, the China division, and the East Indies division. In the case of Canada also we think that the fleet unit might in the future form an acceptable system, particularly with regards to the Pacific. If we had another fleet unit of this kind on the Pacific coast of Canada we should have, under circumstances under which they could be easily united, no less than four of these divisions, and they would together constitute a very powerful fleet.”

In somewhat of a rapid departure (although not completely out of left field given the Canadian delegations previous run in with attempts at home for capital ships), the Admiralty was now advocating for a miniature fleet to be purchased, largely to help act as a future counter to Japanese ambitions in the future and act as a sort of capital ship reserve. In the eyes of the Admiralty, local defensive units would be useless against the Japanese as they lack seagoing capacity and the rapidly growing Imperial Japanese Navy could simply sweep these vessels from the sea. The fleet units themselves were to consist of a 1 Invincible class battlecruiser, 3 Town class cruisers, 6 destroyers, 3 submarine and the necessary auxiliary support ships. It was projected this unit would require upwards of 2,300 personnel and would require an initial overall cost of £3,700,000 plus another £600,000 for annual operations. As Laurier and like minded planners had specifically avoided any ships of this size, let alone a full-on fleet unit, the Canadian delegation had to act quickly to show the impossibility of this plan. Minister Broduer pointed out that McKenna had indeed covered the advantages of having a fleet unit for the Pacific but had not mentioned anything in regard to the Atlantic. McKeena replied with,

“I only referred to the Pacific squadron in it’s relation to the other squadrons we should have on the further side of the Pacific Ocean and the possible combination of them all into one fleet. With regards to the Atlantic side, it is so very much nearer to our own home waters, and we are so much freer consequently to send vessels of our own, that I do not think that there is quite the same urgency on the Atlantic side as on the Pacific side. While both oceans alike are open to you, the Atlantic coast is very much nearer to our own scene of operations. Please Minister, tell us the lines upon which you would like to proceed, and then ask us whether we can offer any suggestions upon that. We do not want to appear to be pressing you.”


Indefatigable-class battlecruiser HMS New Zealand at Lyttleton, New Zealand during Fall 1919. This is the improved design Australia and New Zealand would both choose in their eventual purchases.

It was obvious that the Admiralty and the Canadian delegation had ulterior motives and ever the cautious man, Brodeur declined to comment, retreating for the moment to gather a response. When the conference resumed days later, the Canadian delegation lead the opening discussion. Minister Borden took the helm at this point and read to record the Foster resolution of Mark 1909. The three main principals behind the formation of a Canadian Navy was as such, Canada wished to act on it’s own authority but with council and direction from the Admiralty. Canada wanted to act upon Lord Tweedmouth’s policy lines laid in the 1907 Conference and the fact that Canada wanted to go beyond simple financial donations to Britain in times of need. Borden also stipulated that he would like clarification regarding Canadian control over it’s forces in wartime, best means of allowing interchangeability within the naval services of the Dominion and plans for the period of transition if this fleet unit concept was to be taken to heart. Borden was quick to clarify one thing though, Canada required a two-ocean fleet, politically and militarily. While it was indeed true that Britain was in a position to readily send assistance to the Atlantic coast, the coasts themselves spanned well over 4,000 miles apart. The majority of Canada’s population lived closer to the Atlantic and to station a very expensive naval unit far away from the majority of the nation would be politically disastrous.

Borden would close with “If there is anything at all in the idea, as I believe there is, of allowing the people to see for themselves what they are doing in these matters of defense, I am inclined to think that we should start on both coasts at once, that would be the only thing that would satisfy our people thoroughly.”

Minister Brodeur took the stand next, hoping to drive home Canada’s position on the issue. Beginning with an expression of gratitude towards the Admiralty for validating the principal of dominion autonomy within the issue of naval defense. Following this, Brodeur presented the fact that Canada’s wishes had evolved past merely a small coastal defense force and the existing Fisheries Protection service was not a suitable baseline to expand in order to make up such a force. He explained that while Canada did need more effective local based defense, Ottawa was worried about creating a fleet able to be used in Imperial conflicts, effectively reigniting some of the issues found during the Boer War. That being said though, Canada was willing to establish potentially a cruiser force although, not of the caliber requested in the fleet unit. At this point though, it seemed as both delegations had reached a stalemate. While the Australians had accepted the fleet unit concept, the Canadians wished to have a local naval force of a smaller type and within manageable limits. This did not bode well for the Admiralty, partially pushed along by Admiral Fisher and his personal quest to implement the battlecruiser concept, which he had already been somewhat unable to accomplish. In the end however, the Admiralty was a multi-faceted organization and their political and military leaders often had very differing opinions. When push came to shove, it seemed the British government overrode the authority of the Admiralty, viewing the forcing of the naval issue as undermining the political harmony of the dominions and their cooperative nature.


Birmingham class cruiser at speed, 1917. The cruisers considered by Australia and Canada were the Weymouth class, being large improvements over the original Bristol class cruisers due to the fact that they carried a full 6" battery instead of a 6" and 4" split.

After one of the daily conferences, Brodeur and McKeena convened for dinner in the evening. During this event, Brodeur seemed to have successfully explained the political landmine of a Canadian Navy at home alongside the various other matters at hand. In a latter to Laurier, Brodeur would state:

“It was pretty late when we parted, and on the way out he said to me I understand the whole situation you find yourself in. We are going to get along just fine. I am going to prepare another document for you that I’ll sign once you’ve seen it and confirmed you’re happy with it, and I’ll make sure it’s done in a way that will support the principals of your House resolution.”

The events of the next day would solidify this fact as McKeena addressed the value of any kind of Dominion naval force, even if it is substantially weaker than the proposed fleet units. More so, McKeena proposed creating a subcommittee between the Canadian delegates and Admiralty staff to better discuss their own specific naval matters in a private setting. With these discussions soon approaching, Brodeur asked Minister Borden to have a dinner meeting with Admiral Fisher, as Borden was already familiar with him and hopefully to smooth out any issues alongside convincing the old salt. This tactic did not end up working on Fisher, ending with both parties departing out from under a cloud of negativity. As per usual, Fisher was steadfast in his position. Canada would not have a navy period unless they started with a capital ship and it would have to be positioned on the Pacific coast, this was nonnegotiable. When they reconvened, Fisher stood by his fleet unit concept and it was not until McKeena planted his foot and explained promptly to Fisher that the fleet unit plan was not feasible to Canada. With more force behind the opposition, Fisher acquiesced and requested a financial number the Canadians would consider reasonable, largely in order to help the Admiralty to tailor a package for their needs. Brodeur was not particularly ready to answer that question however, he presented two figures of $3,000,000 and $2,000,000 as yearly estimates. This number was extrapolated as being a fairly safe number as Robert Borden had previously stated the naval budget should be half that of the militia, bringing it to the above largest number.

Brodeur seemed to also have anticipated some bargaining, leaving himself some room to move if needed. The lower number was never truly looked at realistically by the Canadian delegation however, it effectively served to pull Admiralty attention away from larger schemes while concentrating their thinking on ensuring the larger of the two plans would be accepted, as was already basically agreed upon internally by the Canadians. Soon after, the Admiralty would prove true to their world and produced the two schemes. The first scheme was rated at £600,000 and while it did not cover the miscellaneous fisheries service and hydrographic work, it covered the upkeep of Halifax and Esquimalt plus the fleet in question. That fleet would consist of 1 Boadicea class cruiser, 4 improved Bristol sub class cruisers and 6 destroyers of the improved River class. Submarines were not considered as they required heavily specialized personnel. The cheaper £400,000 plan cut the Boadicea class cruiser alongside 1 Bristol and 2 destroyers. The more expensive plan very much reflected a fleet unit with the battlecruiser replaced by two other cruisers. While the personnel required to man the ships was somewhat high, their slow roll out over a period of time would allow recruitment and Royal Navy supplements to mitigate this issue. It was planned to have the Boadicea and the destroyers present on the Atlantic and the Bristol’s split between both coasts, giving both coasts a very effective modicum of protection and capacity.


HMS Boadicea alongside the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron in Russia, June of 1914. Boadicea was designed to be a flotilla leader for destroyers although her speed made her rather questionable in that role. Her eventual deletion from the Canadian warship plan would highlight this.

In the end, the specific fleet unit concept pitched to Canada was a compromise and definitely did wound the pride of some Admiralty members, although the result of a completely ocean-going unit even simply made of cruisers was definitely valuable. Even Fisher who had the most personally invested into the battlecruiser concept remarked about his optimism, “This means eventually Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India running a complete navy. We manage the job in Europe, and they’ll manage it against the Yankees, Japs and Chinese as occasion requires it out there.” This scheme was definitely realistic and plausible however, it had heavily outgrown the original purpose of the trip, setting up a dominion defense force of largely coastal vessels grown out of an extended fisheries protection service. The change to an ocean going fleet able to actively participate in imperial wars drastically altered the purpose behind any naval discussions from here on, especially within French speaking areas of Canada. Laurier, Brodeur and Borden seemed all rather contempt with the plan proposed to them however, the ripple effect of this would affect the navy for years to come.

McKeena was a private supporter of the Canadian Naval ambitions and while he could not publicly go against the statement of the Admiralty regarding fleet units only, he was willing to assist Canada completely if Laurier personally took responsibility in his stand against the Admiralty. If Laurier publicly disagreed with financial contributions to the Admiralty, McKenna would assist him in the alternatives. Laurier was feeling relatively confident with moving forward with the issue, obviously his previous ideas of simply expanding the Fisheries service as the base of the navy was insufficient and the people would likely accept such a rationale. Laurier was riding high and the time to strike an act into parliament was soon upon them. As a closing statement, Minister Borden addressed the Admiralty committee.

“The previous resolution passed unanimously by the Canadian government referred to a certain specific statement made by the first sea lord of the Admiralty in 1907, from which it might, and I think it does, appear that it might be possible, at any rate it led us to believe it would be possible to begin the establishment of a navy in a smaller way than that indicated in the proposed Admiralty memorandum. This is to say, I inferred, from the first lords previous 1907 statement, that we could begin with smaller ships and build the larger ones later on. But the ideal of Canada is the construction of a navy as complete as possible, first for local defense, and secondly to cooperate with the imperial navy.”

Brodeur himself felt rather optimistic as well regarding the results of the conference, stating the following to Laurier in a letter,

“The fact that the government and the Admiralty in particular, has been persuaded of the uselessness of claiming a contribution so far as Canada is concerned is, I feel, a big step forward. We also note that your idea at the 1902 conference has won some acceptance. You were alone at that time in seeking endorsement of our independence in the area of naval defense. Today, Australia is supporting your views and has even taken some effective measures towards this goal.”

Both the Australians and Canadians would leave the conference with much larger naval ambitions than they arrived with, although only one would fulfill said ambitions for the immediate future. Laurier confidently pushed this scheme forward regardless, believing in his powerful grasp on Parliament and the support of the people. Immediate measures were taken and Brodeur spoke with McKeena, who was very helpful in the fact that he recommended Canada take on two cruisers immediately for training purposes. Brodeur was especially pushing for even a single ship to fill the fisheries protection gap on the Pacific coast as no modern vessel was there for any period of time. Although while the government made internal moves to ensure success, the lack of transparency within the public soon turned into wild and unfounded speculation, a rather destructive and troublesome effect.


HMS Eden (top) and HMAS Torrens, both River-class destroyers. These destroyers marked a major advance in Royal Navy destroyer design as they sacrificed top speed for seakeeping, allowing them to remain effective in higher sea states and at higher speeds.
 
Birth of a Navy
With the Canadian government keeping tight lipped while negotiations were being brought to a close, this left a vacuum of information waiting to be filled. The Canadian Military Gazette was one of the first more official channels to comment on the likely upcoming announcement of a naval procurement plan. They would comment, “unless we have badly misread public opinion, the creation of an independent Canadian maritime force that works together with the British Navy will meet with very general acceptance. We do not believe the route of financial contributions is the best course as a dominion navy managed by the dominion government alone sufficiently meets Canadian needs.” Shortly after, the Government announced that within the period stretching to the next year, they would be rapidly undergoing steps to create a Canadian Navy and procuring warships to inhabit it. Arrangements were currently being made to procure older warships as fisheries enforcement vessels and training platforms alongside the announcement that Canada would domestically produce its own warships. A $15,000,000 program was announced to build Canadian shipbuilding and repair industries however, the situation quickly soured.

Instead of coalescing support, these announcements drew controversy. The pro-contribution opposition had been fully expected, rallying around the soon to be famous derogatory title of Laurier’s planned force, the “Tin Pot Navy”. The newest threat came from the Quebec nationalists through Frederick Debartzch Monk, leader of the Quebec branch conservatives. While he had been present for the initial parliamentary naval debates, more pressing matters within Quebec had kept him from heavily commentating, that would quickly change. With the upcoming procurement and general change in naval thinking all being based off the recent Imperial Conference, Monk was heavily skeptical of the fact that the full transcript of the conference was withheld by the colonial office. The office themselves maintained that the discussions were private and contained relatively sensitive material alongside the fact that Laurier and Brodeur needed to keep their agreement with McKeena secretive, the eventually heavily edited and redacted transcript satisfied nobody. Monk struck hard and fast, accusing Laurier of “imperial drunkenness to a point of being fatal to the principal of a self-governing nation.”

Monk accused Laurier relentlessly of “intending to build a war navy for active participation in the defense of the empire”, completely ignoring Lauriers repeated pleas clarifying that this Canadian fleet would not participate in Imperial actions without the consent of the Canadian people. Monk and his fellow Quebec elite would have none of this “imperial rabblerousing”, being promptly joined by fellow Frenchmen Henri Bourassa, a long-time critic of Laurier. Bourassa would utilize his powerful political connections to publish the French paper Le Devior in January of 1910, using the platform as a powerful means of opposing Laurier and his naval bill. It was rather obvious to the people of Quebec that regardless of what they desired, Canada as a whole would go to war with the empire regardless, making any kind of logical appeal rather moot on Laurier’s part. Fate seems to be playing a cruel game with Laurier as one of his most trusted and knowledgeable partners in the naval race, Minister Brodeur, was struck with a serious illness and could not oversee the implementation of the bill itself. Laurier was not as familiar with naval affairs as his minister however, it was time for him to take the reigns so to speak and bring this affair to it’s proper conclusion.


Wilfred Laurier speaking to the House of Commons, 1916.

On January 12, 1910, Wilfred Laurier personally introduced Bill 95 into Parliament or more well known as the Naval Service Act. The stress weighed heavily on his mind as he prepared to give the address, he was about to finally forge the arm which would protect his nation for centuries to come or conversely, was about to go down in recorded history as a optimistic fool. It was worrisome, Laurier had familiarized himself to a point to the specific naval matters of the Conferences and such however, he was nowhere near knowledgeable enough to hold up to specific scrutiny. This gamble would need to pay off, the time for caution had concluded.

“Mr. Speaker, it was understood when the House adjourned for the Christmas recess that, upon resuming our sittings, my Hon. friend the Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Mr. Brodeur) would introduce the Naval Bill which was foreshadowed in the speech from the Throne and expose the policy of the government in regard to it. Unfortunately, my Hon. friend the Minister of Marine and Fisheries is to-day in such a condition of health that he cannot be present, but with a view of not disappointing the House and of expediting its business, my Hon. friend has asked me to introduce the measure for him. He hopes, and still more I hope, that when the Bill is brought up for second reading early next week he will be able to be in his place to move the second reading and then go fully into the whole question and all the details of policy and administration connected with it. My object, therefore, to-day will be simply to introduce the Bill and give to the House its salient features, reserving for the second reading the more general discussion of the measure. The Bill which will be laid upon the table is entitled ‘An Act respecting the Naval Service of Canada.’

This bill provides for the creation of a naval force to be composed of a permanent corps, a reserve force, and a volunteer force on the same pattern 'absolutely as the present organization of the militia force. Unlike the Militia force however, no man in this country, under the Naval Service Act or any other, will be liable to military service on the sea. In this matter the present Bill departs altogether from the Militia Act; every man who will be enrolled for naval service in Canada will be enrolled by voluntary engagement, there is no compulsion of any kind, no conscription, no enrollment and no balloting. The Bill provides that the naval force shall be under the control of the Department of Marine and Fisheries. It further provides that there shall be a director of naval service who must be of the rank of Rear Admiral or at least of Captain, as we currently have. The Department shall be assisted by a naval board who will advise the department. Commissions in the Naval Militia will issue in the name of His Majesty. Another important feature of the Bill is that it provides for the establishment of a naval college on the pattern of the military college now in existence at Kingston. It also declares that the naval discipline shall be in the form of the King's regulations. These, Mr. Speaker, are the leading features of the Bill. Of course, the matter can be very largely elaborated, but I do not think that any elaboration is necessary to an understanding of the matter. In conclusion, it provides for the creation of a naval force; in this there are to be three classes as in the militia, the permanent force, the reserve unit and volunteer force. The naval service may be placed at the disposal of His Majesty in case of war. When Britain is at war, Canada is at war; there is no distinction. If Great Britain, to which we are subject, is at war with any nation, Canada becomes liable to invasion, and so Canada is at war. The Canadian representatives explained in what respect they desired the advice of the Admiralty in regard to the measures of naval defense, which might be considered consistent with the resolution adopted by the Canadian parliament on the 29th March, 1909. While, on naval strategical considerations, it was thought that a fleet unit on the Pacific, as outlined by the Admiralty, might in future form an acceptable system of naval defense, it was recognized that Canada's double seaboard rendered the provisions of such a fleet unsuitable for the present. Relating to the proceedings given by Mr. Askwith after the Conference had taken place, is the following:

Separate meetings took place at the Admiralty with the representatives of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and general statements were agreed to in each case for further consideration by their respective governments. As regards Australia, the suggested arrangement is that with some temporary assistance from the imperial funds, the Commonwealth government should provide and maintain the Australian unit of the Pacific fleet. The contribution of the New Zealand government would be applied towards the maintenance of the China unit, of which some of the smaller vessels would have New Zealand waters as their headquarters. The New Zealand battlecruiser would be stationed in Chinese waters. As regards Canada, it was considered that her double seaboard rendered the provision of a fleet unit of the same kind unsuitable for the present. It was proposed, according to the amount of money that might be available that Canada should make a start with cruisers of the Boadicea class, Bristol class and destroyers of an improved River class, a part to be stationed on the Atlantic seaboard and a part on the Pacific. These warships will be built in Canadian docks with money spent by the Canadian taxpayer, thus will create the industrial base for further growth within the nation for all types of vessel, even excluding warships.”



Caricature of the Bourassa and Monk at one of their rallies against the Canadian Naval Service, in the Conservative Herald newspaper.

There was obvious dissent within the Liberal party itself however as with many topics involving politics, Lauriers supported fell in behind him, letting loose with a thunderous applause as he returned to his seat. Laurier had hoped that this compromise between an effective force, a largely dominion-controlled force and the infrastructure investments would win over all parties but for a veteran politician, he was far off the mark. Taking some time to regroup, the Conservatives bit back at the Laurier as party member Clarence Jameson took the stand.

“As the battlecruiser is the essential part of the fleet unit, it is important that an Indomitable class warship of the battlecruiser type should be the first vessel to be built in commencing the formation of a hypothetical Canadian fleet. Here we find the large battlecruiser spoken of as a necessity, the first essential in the creation of a fleet unit. Australia and New Zealand have adopted the plan of the naval experts, yet the government of Canada deliberately ignore it and propose placing in the water ships, which in the stern test of modern naval warfare, would he as helpless as a family of small children dumped down in a vacant tenement and told to live for themselves. Again, the class of ships proposed to be built by the government would, in the event of war, compel Canada to take a position inferior to Australia and New Zealand, who are each preparing to provide ships capable of taking their place in the battle line.

It was the boast of the people of Canada, irrespective of race or creed, that when the Canadian volunteers went to South Africa, they took their place on the firing line, they fought shoulder to shoulder with the best troops which Great Britain or any of the colonies sent to the front, they won honor for themselves and reflected honor on their country. To-day Australia and New Zealand are each preparing to provide cruisers of the Dreadnought type. These vessels will not only be a deterrent to our common enemy, but in time of war would take their place in the battle line in defense as well of Canada as of every other part of the empire. Where would the proposed Canadian ships be if they are built, or obsolete craft such as the government are considering the purchase of? Too light to withstand the fire of a powerful enemy and only from such would an attack come; if they went to war at all, they would be forced into a position inferior to that of the ships of the other self-governing dominions, and would actually have to accept the protection of the larger ships of the younger and smaller colonies. The self-respect of the people of Canada, including, I believe, the descendants of the veterans of Montcalm and Wolfe, would cry out against the indignity to which the government proposes to subject this country.”


This appeal to contributionists and imperialists alike resonated with the members of the conservative party and while they were obviously not as well versed in the particulars and practicality of certain naval plans, their issues rang true. Similar to their Liberal counterparts, the Conservatives burst out in agreement. In the end, Laurier’s compromise tried to accommodate everybody but ended up satisfying nobody. The Quebec nationalists complained that the long reaching cruisers and aggressive torpedo boats being ordered demonstrated a want to interfere in other nations affairs alongside their fellow imperial bullies. The contributionists lamented the lack of a concrete large gun contribution or similarly impressive cash donation to the Royal Navy while the imperialists baulked at the specific exclusion of a clause compelling naval service, being an all voluntary force. This was originally placed to satisfy the French Canadians lack of drive to fight overseas conflicts however, it rightly backfired rather quickly. The nationalists were the only party to be readily pleased as a Canadian navy built in Canadian yards was exactly what they had requested. Debate raged back and forth between the Conservatives and Liberals for months, finally coming to a bitter conclusion in May of 1910.

Robert Borden would personally take the stand and while he agreed that it was desirable for Canada to have it's own naval force, he preferred to speak of a Canadian naval force as simply a Canadian unit of the Royal Navy. His party had previously argued that Canada should not take part in the naval defense of the Empire without having a voice as to the wars which Great Britain might undertake however at the same time, Borden did not believe that Britain would bring them into any major conflicts without having first consulted the Dominions. He would put forward that like the Militia, the Navy would corrode the nature of cooperation between the Dominion and the Empire.
Borden went on to state a financial or material contribution for the purpose of meeting an emergency such as what was currently happening would be fully justified and desirable. To meet the German challenge he proposed, the Laurier government's proposal were completely inadequate. This was no longer an expansion of the Fisheries Protection Service and would stick them to the path of having their own naval force permanently while also in his eyes, being too little and too late to help Britain. Even in the best case scenario and with all due haste, a Canadian Service could not be effectively built in less than 10 years. He argued that 15 to 20 years is more realistic especially if Laurier went for all domestic construction. To that end, the crisis was here and now, such future actions would be too late. Borden's view was perhaps somewhat slanted due to the fact that he had visited Britain the previous summer, where he was privy to observing the grand British fleet organized for the King's review. Borden would go on to describe the scene itself,

"It was not a proud thought for a Canadian surveying: that mighty fleet to remember that all the protecting power which it embodied was paid for without the contribution of a single dollar by the Canadian people, although Canada and every Canadian throughout the world had the right to invoke and the just expectation to receive the protection afforded by that great armament. Hereby, the obscenely rapid growth of German naval forces, in my opinion, is nothing but a most serious threat to the naval supremacy of Britain and by extension, being absolutely essential to the integrity of the empire. No one pretends that the British navy is not supreme to-day, but the continuance of that supremacy will cease within the next two or three years at least, unless extraordinary efforts are made by the mother country and all the great dominions."


Sir Robert Borden leading a passionate speech sometime during his political career.

Borden ended his attacks by advocating the old provision of a fleet unit or at minimum, 1 Dreadnought or, as he described, "the equivalent in cash at the disposal of the Admiralty to be used for naval defense under such conditions as we may prescribe." Even with the applied effort of Robert Borden and Monk/Bourassa from Quebec, all of these things were largely formalities as the Liberal party’s healthy parliamentary majority allowed them to pass the bill with little issue. With a vote of 111 to 70, the Naval Service Bill was put to paper and provided royal assent by King George V.

As of May 4, 1910, the Canadian Naval Service had been born.
 
110th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Navy Gallery
Post retrieved from the Facebook page of the Royal Canadian Navy, May 4, 2020 at 12:05pm

110 years ago to this day, Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier passed the Naval Service Act in Parliament and your Royal Canadian Navy was established. Although did you know that the Royal Canadian Navy was originally refereed to as the Canadian Naval Service? The prefix of 'Royal' was awarded to the Canadian Naval Service on August 29, 1911 by King George V. As we mark 110 years of service, we honor the courage, resiliency, selflessness and sacrifices of the men and women who served, and continue to serve, our nation in times of peace and war. In order to help honor this historic occasion, various artists have been commissioned to create paintings of the Royal Canadian Navy throughout it's early history. These gorgeous illustrations will make their way across the country in a traveling exposé, please stay tuned for the planned schedule and visit these at a location near you!

 
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was there no effort to work with the US navy? After all BC coast and the inland water way were used by US as well as Canada. Why not work with each other for better of all?
 
was there no effort to work with the US navy? After all BC coast and the inland water way were used by US as well as Canada. Why not work with each other for better of all?
It would seem to be an easy fix to simply work out an agreement with the US Navy regarding BC however, it was politically untenable to do so. There was significant fears within Canada that any mergers, agreements, policies positive towards the United States would help pave the path to annexation into their nation. Obviously this is rather funny to look back on today but it was a real issue at the time, in a few chapters it should be clear how much of an issue this is. It would be extremely humiliating to come to the US for help when Canada was one of the senior dominions within the British Empire, even if Britain was not particularly willing to help at this point in time. Canadian Imperialists and even Nationalists would scream to the heavens and lose their minds for any kind of mutual defense pacts between Canada and the US in this period.

So basically, politics completely tied this issue off to the Canadians. It also came down to the fact that elsewhere, Canada and the US had completely different goals internationally. Canada resented the United States and Britain after the Alaska boundary dispute years prior and the constant issues of US citizens illegally pouching fish from Canadian waters. A defensive pact could get very ugly and messy if Britain/Canada gets into a conflict and the US isn't involved or vice versa. It would be a very sticky situation politically. It's something to remember that the British and Americans had somewhat turbulent friendships over the coming decades.

Thanks for the question, I enjoy responding to questions and feedback :)
 
It would seem to be an easy fix to simply work out an agreement with the US Navy regarding BC however, it was politically untenable to do so. There was significant fears within Canada that any mergers, agreements, policies positive towards the United States would help pave the path to annexation into their nation. Obviously this is rather funny to look back on today but it was a real issue at the time, in a few chapters it should be clear how much of an issue this is. It would be extremely humiliating to come to the US for help when Canada was one of the senior dominions within the British Empire, even if Britain was not particularly willing to help at this point in time. Canadian Imperialists and even Nationalists would scream to the heavens and lose their minds for any kind of mutual defense pacts between Canada and the US in this period.
Plus people have to remember that there was (and still is) a significant streak of anti-Americanism in mainstream Canadian thought. Even today major economic treaties with the US such as NAFTA are decried by nationalists as the "thin edge of the wedge" for an eventual US takeover. In 1910 when elements in Canada were pushing it's independence, inviting the US military in would be seen by many as simply trading one master for another.
 
I binged through this TL really quickly. It is a shame that the Dominions aren't getting ships worthy of their contributions. Hopefully their thinly armored BCs will not get dragged to Jutland.
 
I binged through this TL really quickly. It is a shame that the Dominions aren't getting ships worthy of their contributions. Hopefully their thinly armored BCs will not get dragged to Jutland.
Um, HMS New Zealand Actually was at Jutland. She got hit on one turret which temporarily jammed and and straddled multiple times with no hits. She also participated in each of the three major battles in the North Sea with almost no damage. Of course, part of the reason was believed to be the luck from the Maori piupiu (a warrior’s grass skirt) and Hei-tiki worn by her Captain each time they went into battle (I also heard he performed the Haka as well).
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Um, HMS New Zealand Actually was at Jutland. She got hit on one turret which temporarily jammed and and straddled multiple times with no hits. She also participated in each of the three major battles in the North Sea with almost no damage. Of course, part of the reason was believed to be the luck from the Maori piupiu (a warrior’s grass skirt) and Hei-tiki worn by her Captain each time they went into battle (I also heard he performed the Haka as well).
Australia would have been there too - at that time she was serving with the Grand Fleet - but for a collision with, of all ships, New Zealand.
 
Australia would have been there too - at that time she was serving with the Grand Fleet - but for a collision with, of all ships, New Zealand.
On the morning of 21 April, Australia and her sister ships sailed again for the Skagerrak, this time to support efforts to disrupt the transport of Swedish ore to Germany. The planned destroyer sweep of the Kattegat was cancelled when word came that the High Seas Fleet was mobilising for an operation of their own (later learned to be timed to coincide with the Irish Easter Rising), and the British ships were ordered to a rendezvous point in the middle of the North Sea, while the rest of the Grand Fleet made for the south-eastern end of the Long Forties. On the afternoon of 22 April, the Battlecruiser Fleet was patrolling to the north-west of Horn Reefs when heavy fog came down. The ships were zigzagging to avoid submarine attack, which, combined with the weather conditions, caused Australia to collide with sister ship HMS New Zealand twice in three minutes. Procedural errors were found to be the cause of the collisions, which saw Australia (the more heavily damaged of the two ships) docked for six weeks of repairs between April and June 1916. Initial inspections of the damage were made in a floating dock on the River Tyne, but the nature of the damage required a diversion to Devonport, Devon for the actual repair work. The repairs were completed more quickly than expected, and Australia rejoined the 2nd BCS Squadron at Rosyth on 9 June, having missed the Battle of Jutland.


Not just once either, twice.
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
On the morning of 21 April, Australia and her sister ships sailed again for the Skagerrak, this time to support efforts to disrupt the transport of Swedish ore to Germany. The planned destroyer sweep of the Kattegat was cancelled when word came that the High Seas Fleet was mobilising for an operation of their own (later learned to be timed to coincide with the Irish Easter Rising), and the British ships were ordered to a rendezvous point in the middle of the North Sea, while the rest of the Grand Fleet made for the south-eastern end of the Long Forties. On the afternoon of 22 April, the Battlecruiser Fleet was patrolling to the north-west of Horn Reefs when heavy fog came down. The ships were zigzagging to avoid submarine attack, which, combined with the weather conditions, caused Australia to collide with sister ship HMS New Zealand twice in three minutes. Procedural errors were found to be the cause of the collisions, which saw Australia (the more heavily damaged of the two ships) docked for six weeks of repairs between April and June 1916. Initial inspections of the damage were made in a floating dock on the River Tyne, but the nature of the damage required a diversion to Devonport, Devon for the actual repair work. The repairs were completed more quickly than expected, and Australia rejoined the 2nd BCS Squadron at Rosyth on 9 June, having missed the Battle of Jutland.


Not just once either, twice.
If you follow the Bledisloe Cup, not so surprising!
 
I binged through this TL really quickly. It is a shame that the Dominions aren't getting ships worthy of their contributions. Hopefully their thinly armored BCs will not get dragged to Jutland.
Thank you, I like to think that indicates a half decent timeline haha! I know that feeling. While obviously heavily changing massive naval engagements like Jutland is outside the purpose of this timeline, I'm not ruling out the Canucks fighting alongside their Imperial brethren in such battles ;)
 
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