HMCS Venture alumni re-unite

Lt(N) Justin Sowley explains the integration of the pelorus, a reference tool for maintaining bearing of a vessel at sea, with the Naval Bridge Simulator to Cdr (Retired) Doug Henderson. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Lt(N) Justin Sowley explains the integration of the pelorus, a reference tool for maintaining bearing of a vessel at sea, with the Naval Bridge Simulator to Cdr (Retired) Doug Henderson. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Graduates of the Royal Canadian Navy’s junior officer training centre known as HMCS Venture gathered in Victoria last week for their 11th quinquennial reunion.

Held once every five years, the reunion brings together members of CFB Esquimalt’s Naval Junior Officer Training Establishment, HMCS Venture, which ceased operations 51 years ago.

Last week’s reunion saw approximately 125 alumni and their spouses attend two days of activities organized by the Venture Association in conjunction with Naval Fleet School Pacific (NFS(P)).

Between 1954 and 1968, HMCS Venture and its campus, which was located in Dockyard, trained junior naval officers of the Executive, Engineering, and Fleet Air Arm and Naval Services branches during a two-year term of academic education. The buildings that once housed the school, Dockyard buildings 11 and 29, were demolished in 2017.

Many reunion attendees are now in their 70s and 80s and travelled to Victoria from across the country and the United States to celebrate the legacy.

Admiral (Retired) John Anderson, Ambassador to NATO and former Commanding Officer, Naval Officer Training Centre (NOTC) Venture, and past Chief of Defence Staff, was the special guest for this year’s reunion. 

Lieutenant Commander Todd Kennedy, who serves as the present-day Venture Division Commander, within NFS(P), welcomed the group with a reception and orientation at Work Point’s Collier Theatre on the morning of Sept 12, in conjunction with the Naval Fleet School Commandant, Commander Annick Fortin, and Deputy Fleet Commander, Captain(N) Scott Robinson. All three of spent the day with Venture Association reunion guests as they walked the flats of current day Venture Division, and joined them for an afternoon of at-sea experiences.

LCdr Kennedy, a graduate NOTC Venture in 2001, says the bonds that exist between members of HMCS Venture of the 1950s and 1960s are truly unique because they attended the school in a markedly different era when the Royal Canadian Navy was the third largest navy in the world.

“This group holds the relationship they had with each other back in the day very close to their chests,” said LCdr Kennedy. “After all these years, they still stay in contact with each other through the Venture Association, social media and by other means.”

Reunion attendees received an up-close look at present-day naval operations following the opening ceremony.

The former sailors and naval aviators were separated into two groups for a series activities and tours. Air officers spent the day touring 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron and learning about present-day maritime air initiatives at Patricia Bay, including a look at the CH-148 Cyclone Helicopter.

Maritime Surface Officers participated in a forenoon of simulator demonstrations at Venture Division; participated in a tour of the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum; a group lunch at the Work Point Galley with Capt(N) Jason Boyd, Commander Naval Personnel Training Group (NPTG) in attendance, followed by an afternoon spent afloat, aboard four Orca Patrol Class Training vessels. They experienced manoeuvering demonstrations and a Naval Tactical Operations Group embarkation demonstration.


Did you know…

HMCS Venture derives its name from the original sail-training vessel used to train Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) sailors on the west coast shortly after the establishment of Canada’s Navy in 1910 with the passage of the Naval Service Act. Venture’s official training centre model was: A New Undertaking, Dare Not to be Afraid.

Even though the original Venture ceased operations in 1968, the school’s name would live on as the Naval Officer Training Centre Venture in the 1970s and beyond. In 2016, the organization was eventually absorbed into the RCN’s new centre for west coast training, Naval Fleet School (Pacific).

Today, the Venture name still exists, and as a division of NFS(P), and it provides the instructional foundations for the RCN’s Naval Warfare Officer training program.

For more information about HMCS Venture and its history visit their website

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