Explore History

First World War (1914-1918)
War in the Pacific

At the outbreak of war in August 1914, only three obsolete ships and two recently-acquired submarines protected Canada's west coast. Canadians feared that German cruisers might attack merchant ships or bombard cities and towns. After these attacks failed to materialize, many vessels and personnel were transferred to the Atlantic to deal with the growing German submarine threat.

HMCS Shearwater's Crew
HMCS Shearwater's Crew

Many of HMCS Shearwater's crew pose on deck, with one of the ship's life rings visible at upper right.

This photograph was likely taken in 1917 during a four-month trip escorting the Canadian submarines CC-1 and CC-2 from Esquimalt to Halifax. Built for patrol work, and of limited use against modern warships, Shearwater spent much of the war as a tender in Esquimalt, providing accommodation and workshop facilities for the crews of CC-1 and CC-2.

George Metcalf Archival Collection
CWM 19840218-001

HMCS Rainbow in Drydock, Esquimalt
Commander Walter Hose, HMCS Rainbow
Sailor Standing by HMCS Rainbow's Wheel
Sailor with Sennet Hat and Camera, HMCS Rainbow
HMS Algerine in Esquimalt, 1914
Canadian Submarine at Esquimalt
British 18-inch Torpedo
Japanese Cruiser Aso off British Columbia
HMCS Galiano Ship's Company, 1918
Chief Petty Officer James Vinicombe
Sailor's Summer Uniform, Lionel Channing, HMCS Shearwater
HMCS Shearwater in the Panama Canal
HMCS Shearwater's Crew
Cargo Ship Seen from Canadian Submarine
Sailor and 3-Pounder Hotchkiss Gun, HMCS Shearwater
Stoker Abner Beckwith Willford and Ship's Crew, HMCS Shearwater
Canadian Sailor with Banana Plant
Canadian Submarine in Harbour