HMCS Chippawa Launches the Tender H.C. 314 c1954

by John MacFarlane 2012

H.C. 314

This story started out as a minor mystery – what was the identity of the tender in use at HMCS Chippawa in the early 1950s? I originally identified it as a Ville–class tug but this turned out to be incorrect. It now appears that the vessel has been identified and the circumstances around the taking of the pictures has been sorted out (somewhat). Roland Webb wrote quickly to say –

The vessel in the pictures isn't a Ville Class tug. All the Ville Class were of steel construction. The vessel in the picture is of wooden construction and looks like one of the Harbour Patrol Craft built mainly in Maritime boat yards for use in East Coast Ports. There were many of these craft of a couple of different sizes and finding out which one ended up in Winnipeg won't be easy. The recently published (2010?) history of the Naval Reserve has some info in it about the vessels used at the different locations which may help.

Taking his advice we found that the images are of the launching of a tender to HMCS Chippawa (the Canadian reserve navy division) in Winnipeg Manitoba in 1954. Thanks to the details found in the Article by Carl Gagnon (Appendix A in the amazing publication edited by Richard Gimblett and Michael Hadley Citizen Sailors: Chronicles of Canada's Naval Reserve 1910-2010. Gagnon also emailed further details –

These boats did not have name and the were referred to their number. If a name was given, it was locally and unofficially. These wooden vessels had a displacement of 5.5 tons with the following dimensions, 46 x 12.33 x 3 ft, and could reach 10 knots. They had a crew of three and no armament. Some were used to support diving operations. I attached a photo of one of these crafts built in Prince Edward Island for the navy. Researches for Citizen Sailors indicates that HMCS Chippawa received the 46-ft harbour craft H.C.314 in January 1946 and it is unknown when exactly the vessel was retired. I suspect that is the vessel being put in the water; the photos resolution doesn't allow to look for other clues. These informations could be starting point to inquire more about the photos.
H.C. 314

The tender to HMCS Chippawa - probably H.C. 314

Gagnon points out that HMCS Chippawa received a 14.0 metre harbourcraft - specifically H.C. 314 in 1946. During the devastating floods of 1950 Chippawa used many floating assets during the emergency. There was also a need for a real vessel on which to carry out training. This little vessel served that purpose - launched each Spring and dry–berthed each Autumn.

As a small boy I observed a training session given on the dry–berthed wooden whaler in the drill shed at Chippawa (which in those days was in what had once been the Winter Club. In an attempt to tighten up the seams in the whaler, which had opened up in the dry prairie air, a fire hose was used to fill her up with water. This resulted in massive spouts of leaking water. It is doubtful that the whaler was fit for other than dry land use. My father was the RCN Staff Officer attached to Chippawa. There was only a handfull of naval personnel in Manitoba - so we lived at the army base Fort Osborn. Chippawa was a going–concern with an active training and social life.

Captain Bill Wilson filled in more details –

In the early 1950's the boat wintered at Selkirk and later in Gimli or Riverton on the Lake. I was with the boat when we ran aground north of Gimli in a hell of a storm. There were 7 on board with a whaler in tow, and we were lucky there was no one injured, but suffered 6 terribly sick sailors. The Gimli fishermen hauled the boat off the beach two days later with no charge, but we had to pay a hefty bill for the repair of the finger jetty that we demolished when we hit it broadside. (The anchor would not hold in the sand.) I had nothing but trouble with the boat as it seemed to stall whenever I approached a jetty at slow speeds. (I insisted on lots of fenders for use when the panic set in.)
HMCS Chippawa Staff

This was the staff at Chippawa who were present at the launching. Can any of our readers identify any of them?

Author’s Note:I thank all who sent in clues or searched their files for the identity of this vessel, contributing to solving an interesting minor mystery.

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