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First World War (1914-1918)
Atlantic Theatre

In response to the threat of German naval activity, the east coast navy expanded from its tiny pre-war establishment to include a wide assortment of ships. Their range of duties included blockading, convoy escort and minesweeping.

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The Little Drifter and the Big Freighter
The Little Drifter and the Big Freighter

In this print, war artist Arthur Lismer depicts two ships in the waters off Halifax.

Canada built over 100 small drifters (foreground) during the war to help protect against German submarine attack. Wooden-hulled, lacking experienced sailors, and outgunned by German U-Boats, the drifters still offered some protection to the east coast. Their very presence convinced some U-Boats to hunt in safer waters to the south after the United States entered the war in April 1917. The big freighter (background) wears dazzle paint, a type of camouflage.

The Little Drifter and the Big Freighter
Print by Arthur Lismer
Beaverbrook Collection of War Art
CWM 19710261-0353





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Medal Set, Sub-Lieutenant J.M. Paul, HMCS Niobe
Thomas Hayes, Royal Naval Reserve, Newfoundland, HMCS Niobe
SS Brindilla
HMCS Stadacona and HMCS Niobe
HMCS Canada
HMCS Shearwater, Stadacona, and Lady Evelyn
Gatling Gun, HMCS Bayfield II
HMCS Laurentian and Margaret
Canadian Minesweepers
Olympic with Returned Soldiers
The Little Drifter and the Big Freighter
Looking Astern on a Sub-Chaser
Sketch of a Seaplane Taking Off
Royal Canadian Navy Trawlers, Northwest Arm, Halifax