Today’s date—Niobe Day—marks the arrival of His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Niobe in Halifax, N.S.
On Oct. 21, 1910, HMCS Niobe became the first Canadian warship to enter Canada’s territorial waters, ushering in the beginning of Canada’s naval service. The 11,000-tonne armoured cruiser was purchased from Britain’s Royal Navy by the Canadian government. It steamed across the Atlantic Ocean from Portsmouth, England, to Halifax.
ROYAL CANADIAN NAVY
Earlier in the year, on May 4, 1910, the Naval Service Act brought the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) into existence.
When the First World War broke out, the RCN had less than 350 sailors and two under-equipped warships; by the end of the Second World War, it had grown into one of the world’s greatest naval forces with about 100,000 men and women and a fleet of 365 warships.
Since its humble beginnings on Niobe Day, 1910, Canada’s navy—now the Command (MARCOM), which is the naval element of the Canadian Forces—has served in all the major theatres of war and serves as a great source of pride for Canadians.
On May 4, 2010, Canada Post issued two commemorative stamps to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Canada’s navy service.
The issues depicts the past and present of Canada’s naval service and is complemented by marine-inspired colours and typography.
“The two stamps were designed as separate artworks, but they appear as one canvas. They share the same painterly sky, marine life and open sea environments. The two ships, though of a different age, appear as part of the same fleet,” said designer Andrew Perro, of the Toronto-based firm, Designwerke.
“One of Canada’s first warships, the HMCS Niobe, sails alongside a modern frigate, the HMCS Halifax—a feature that speaks to the passage of time, capturing the magnitude of this major centennial milestone.”