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Interwar Years
The 1930s: Rebuilding the Royal Canadian Navy

Despite the severe financial climate of the Great Depression and political infighting, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) survived mainly as a coastal defence force. This period also saw the delivery of the first major warships designed and built for the RCN.

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Commissioning of HMCS Fraser, February 1937
Commissioning of HMCS Fraser, February 1937

A crowd gathers at Chatham, England, for the commissioning of the Canadian destroyer HMCS Fraser on 17 February 1937.

Originally built for Britain's Royal Navy as HMS Crescent, Fraser and HMCS St. Laurent (formerly HMS Cygnet) joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1937 as replacements for two older British-built destroyers. Similar to HMCS Saguenay and HMCS Skeena, these ships were available more quickly and less expensively than new ships would have been. Their acquisition, followed in 1938 by the purchase of HMCS Ottawa and HMCS Restigouche, was part of a late 1930s defence build-up prompted by growing tensions in Europe.

VR999.758.103
CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum





Launching HMCS Saguenay, July 1930
HMCS Saguenay, 1931
Model, HMCS Skeena
Engineer Captain Thomas C. Phillips
Destroyer Steam Turbine Engine
HMCS Skeena Plans
HMCS Saguenay Entering Willemstad Harbour, Netherlands Antilles, 1934
Torpedo Test Firing
Full-dress Uniform, Commander Frank Llewellyn Houghton
Sun Helmet, Horatio Nelson Lay
Commissioning of HMCS Fraser, February 1937
HMCS Restigouche
Royal Naval College of Canada Third Term Reunion, 1932
Sword of Honour, Robert Montague Powell
Model, HMCS Venture
Calgary Half Company, RCNVR, 1938
"Crossing the Line" Certificate, 1938