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The Bow Badge of H.M.S. Canada
by John MacFarlane 2012
HMS Canada was laid down in 1879 and launched 26th August 1881. She was a Comus-class Corvette built in Portsmouth UK. At the end of her career on 10/05/1897 she was sold to The Shipbreaking Company of London. She had spent some of her commission in Canadian waters while attached to the North America and West Indies Station.
During the transitional period of sail to steam, many British ships-of-war were equipped with bow badges in place of figureheads. The magnificent bow badge of HMS Canada was presented by the Dominion of Canada to the ship’s company when the ship was launched in 1881. The badge contained some (but not all) of the provincial heraldic devices. Her bow badge was removed by Dockyard staff before she was sold off and put into storage. The badge lay in Portsmouth Dockyard until 1954 when it was retrieved by the Curator of the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth, and presented to the Maritime Museum of British Columbia as part of it’s founding collection. It can be seen on display in the galleries of the Museum.
There have been three other HMS Canadas and one HMCS Canada:
- HMS Canada (1765) was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line launched in 1765. She became a prison ship in 1810, and was sold broken up in 1834.
- HMS Canada was to have been a 112-gun first rate. She was laid down in 1814, but cancelled in 1832 and broken up on the stocks.
- HMS Canada (1913) was a battleship, originally ordered by the Chilean Navy as the Almirante Latorre. She was launched in 1913, but purchased by the British government in 1914 after the outbreak of the First World War. She was resold to Chile in 1920 and broken up in Japan in 1959.
- HMCS Canada was a Canadian Government Ship that served in the Fisheries Protection Service of Canada. She was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy as HMCS Canada during the First World War.
MMBC Accession #956.811 There is a photo of the ship and details of her specifications next to the artifact. (My thanks to Tatiana Robinson, Collections Manager at the Maritime Museum of British Columbia for the collection details.) Thanks also to the Wikipedia for the details of the other HMS Canadas - but was curiously devoid of information on this particular HMS Canada!
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