Explore History

Birth of the Navy (1909-1914)
HMCS Rainbow

One of the Naval Service of Canada's first two ships, HMCS Rainbow's duties included the training of sailors and maintaining a naval presence on Canada's Pacific coast. Small and inexpensive to operate, Rainbow was well suited to these purposes, but limited budgets still constrained the ship's activities.

HMCS Rainbow Sailors and Capstan
HMCS Rainbow Sailors and Capstan

Sailors aboard HMCS Rainbow use a piece of equipment called a capstan, probably to weigh (raise) one of the ship's anchors.

A capstan is a type of winch turning around a vertical axis. Bars inserted into the capstan, which is visible in the centre, allowed a large number of the ship's crew to push at the same time. Ropes joining the ends of the bars allowed still more to join in the effort. By 1910, weighing anchor was more usually done by steam power, but manually operated capstans could serve as back-ups to powered equipment.

CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum

HMCS Rainbow Arriving at Esquimalt, British Columbia, 1910
HMCS Rainbow's Officers Greeting Dignitaries
HMS Shearwater and HMCS Rainbow at Esquimalt, 7 November 1910
Gun Practice aboard HMCS Rainbow
Mess Deck, HMCS Rainbow, around 1910
Walter Hose, Commander of HMCS Rainbow
Ship's Wheel, HMCS Rainbow
HMCS Rainbow Sailors and Capstan
Naval Service of Canada Recruitment Poster
HMCS Rainbow "Cleared for Action"
14-inch Mark IX Torpedo