Explore History

Birth of the Navy (1910-1914)
Creating the Navy

Created in 1910, the Naval Service of Canada was renamed the Royal Canadian Navy in 1911. It was the product of an intense Canadian political debate driven by Great Britain's efforts to bolster its naval defences against the rapidly growing German navy.

Royal Navy Warships in Esquimalt Harbour
Royal Navy Warships in Esquimalt Harbour

This colour postcard shows two British cruisers in the harbour at Esquimalt, British Columbia, likely between 1900 and 1905.

The two cruisers, likely HMS Grafton (left) and HMS Bonaventure (right), are typical of the ships based at Esquimalt at this time. During the second half of the nineteenth century, Esquimalt was an important Pacific port for Britain's Royal Navy. By the time this photograph was taken, however, it had declined in significance as Britain concentrated its forces in home waters in response to the emerging German naval threat. Beginning in 1910, it would become an important Pacific base for Canada's new navy.

George Metcalf Archival Collection
CWM 19780743-010front

Service Dress Jacket, Admiral-of-the-Fleet Sir John Arbuthnot "Jackie" Fisher, around 1910
British Ships in Halifax, 1901
American Cruiser USS Olympia
HMS New Zealand (right) and HMAS Australia (left)
CGS Canada Model
Bell, CGS Canada
1 1/4 - Pounder Naval Gun
Royal Navy Warships in Esquimalt Harbour
HMCS Niobe, Stern View
HMCS Rainbow arrives at Esquimalt, British Columbia
Rear-Admiral Sir Charles E. Kingsmill
Bicorn Hat, Rear-Admiral Sir Charles E. Kingsmill
Arrival Ceremony, HMCS Rainbow, Esquimalt, British Columbia
Rifle, MK I* Lee-Enfield
Naval Service of Canada Recruiting Poster
First Naval Recruits, HMCS Niobe
Royal Naval College of Canada, Class Photo, 1911
Royal Naval College of Canada, Machine Shop
Cartoon, HMCS Niobe Coronation Contingent, 1911
Sailors Marching, Esquimalt