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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.

Cargo Ship Seen from Canadian Submarine
Cargo Ship Seen from Canadian Submarine

This photograph of a cargo ship was taken from one of Canada's submarines, either CC-1 or CC-2, during a transit of the Panama Canal in mid-1917.

It reveals the low profile of a surfaced submarine against the high-sided potential target of a merchant ship. In the summer of 1917, with the German naval threat in the Pacific long since eliminated, three vessels from Canada's small west coast force, HMCS Shearwater, CC-1, and CC-2, were ordered to Halifax as part of a plan to send the submarines to European waters. The four-month trip took the Canadian vessels through the Panama Canal, which links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

George Metcalf Archival Collection
CWM 19840218-002_9

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