Honouring museum founders and supporters

CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum

Tatiana Robinson, Curator, 
CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum 
The CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum likely would not exist today at the Base were it not for early supporters whose passion for military history drove the founding of the current Base Museum. In 1977, the museum’s modest beginnings were housed in a metal cabinet at the back of the former Base Library stacks. The nascent collection consisted of mostly papers, books and documents that expanded into the present archives housed in the museum office.

With the dedication of an early Friends of the Museum group and volunteers, the museum was first located in Building Naden (N) 20 which has served a wide variety of purposes such as offices for a convalescent hospital, the Base Commander’s office, and part of the first home for L’Ecole Victor Brodeur School. The museum expanded into buildings N 37 and N 39 in 1994 where it is still housed today. It is a great fit for the Base Museum because these buildings form one of Canada’s National Historic Districts.

On Oct. 16, 2003, Capt(N) A.E. (Tony) Delamere was honoured by having the conference room at the museum named after him. Delamere’s wife Joanne noted in a Lookout article that being Base Commander from 1992-1995 at CFB Esquimalt was one of his favourite postings because it allowed him to get involved with history. Delamere’s love of naval and local history shaped relations between the Base and the Victoria community by emphasizing the shared maritime history of Victoria and CFB Esquimalt.

His initiative “Open Door 94” provided tours of the Base and he was instrumental in developing the CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum. It was in this time of fiscal restraint when Delamere gained community support for the Navy through welcoming the public to the Base. Changing security considerations no longer allow for full tours of the Base but staff and volunteers still welcome visitors for museum tours regularly.

Another gallery in the museum honours the naval and lifetime service of Second World War and Korean War veteran Cdr Peter Godwin Chance. His recent passing is an appropriate time to recall the rededication of the Battle of the Atlantic Gallery to the Peter Godwin Chance Gallery. The memorable event was held on his 101st birthday, Nov. 24, 2021. He was genuinely amazed to be so honoured and museum staff were delighted to provide such a birthday surprise.

Chance’s thirty-year career in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) included his joining the RCN Volunteer Reserve as a Midshipman in 1938 at age 18. In August 1940, he transferred to the RCN. Chance became a specialist navigator and rose to the rank of Commander. He served during the Battle of the Atlantic, at the Dunkirk evacuation and the June 6 D-Day landings. He also survived the loss of HMCS Skeena near Reykjavik, Iceland. Peter stayed in the Navy after the Second World War and participated in the Korean War, serving in HMCS Cayuga.

After retirement from the RCN Peter Chance’s commitment to public service did not wane. He was a member of the Naval Association of Canada, past Director of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, a fundraiser for ALS, and a member of the Royal Canadian Legion for 49 years, in addition to membership in many other organizations.

In person, he had an enthusiasm for life and a genuine interest in others leavened with charisma and a sense of humour. The decision to honour him by rededicating a gallery acknowledged his contribution to the RCN and the greater community.

International Museum Day on May 18 provides a great opportunity to pause and be grateful for the many past staff, volunteers and supporters of museums everywhere who share their enthusiasm and love of history.

Filed Under: News ReleaseTop Stories


About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.