HMCS Oriole on display – Great Lakes Deployment

Cadet Jordan Bechard works diligently at flaking the mainsail aboard the training vessel HMCS Oriole while sailing on Lake Ontario during the 2018 Great Lakes Deployment. Photos by MCpl Neil Clarkson, Formation Imaging Services

Cadet Jordan Bechard works diligently at flaking the mainsail aboard the training vessel HMCS Oriole while sailing on Lake Ontario during the 2018 Great Lakes Deployment. Photos by MCpl Neil Clarkson, Formation Imaging Services

Lt(N) Bill King, Public Affairs Officer ~

More than 4,000 visitors boarded HMCS Oriole for free public tours in Colborne, ON, during the first weekend of August.

Tours were provided as part of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN)’s Great Lakes Deployment and Port Colborne’s Canal Days events.

Built in 1921, Oriole served as the flagship of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club racing out of Toronto until it was gifted to the Navy League to provide a training platform for sailors during the Second World War. Later commissioned into the RCN in 1952, the ship continued to serve as a training vessel based in Esquimalt, B.C., until being sailed through the Panama Canal to Halifax, N.S., last summer.

Oriole serves as both a sail training vessel and a piece of Canada’s naval history open for public tours, often in ports that seldom see a RCN vessel. The permanent crew of nine sailors is augmented with changing groups of Sea Cadets and Reservists to make 21 sailors on deck. Although modern navigation aids and safety gear have been fitted, the sailing gear is rigged and operated much as when it was originally built, thus providing for hands-on seamanship training.

“We take on new cadets Sunday night, and train them how to rig and sail the boat. It takes four or five of them braced on the deck to pull in one sheet, secure it, and get out from under the line safely,” said Petty Officer First Class Scott Harrod, Oriole’s Coxswain. “Just when they’re getting good we swap them for a new group the next week and do it all again.”

Canal Days was first held in 1979 on the 150th anniversary of the opening of the original Welland Canal. This marine heritage festival continues to attract tall ships from around the Great Lakes.

“As a tall ship, Oriole is a piece of Canada’s history that attracts an audience. The Great Lakes Deployment is intended to provide Canadians with an opportunity to visit our ships and speak with sailors. I’d like to continue to show Oriole off at festivals like this one on the Great Lakes next year,” said Lieutenant-Commander Drew Foran, Oriole’s Commanding Officer.

Oriole departed its home port of Halifax at the end of May. The ship has hosted visitors in the Ontario communities of Toronto, Hamilton, Port Dalhousie, Oakville, Port Stanley, and Windsor. Oriole will visit Whitby and Kingston in Ontario as well as Quebec’s Trois-Rivières, Quebec City, Sept-Iles, and Gaspe before returning to its home port in late September.

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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