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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.

HMS Algerine in Esquimalt, 1914
HMS Algerine in Esquimalt, 1914

The British sloop HMS Algerine was one of three ships available to defend Canada's west coast in August 1914.

Almost 20 years old, the ship had been built for patrol work and retained masts and sails in order to conserve fuel on long journeys. The outbreak of war in August 1914 left Canada's west coast vulnerable to German warships. Algerine, in Mexican waters, was ordered back to Esquimalt, undertaking a hurried voyage north in the hope of meeting HMCS Rainbow. Much of Algerine's experienced crew was subsequently sent to HMCS Niobe in Halifax, with Algerine becoming a depot ship at Esquimalt.

George Metcalf Archival Collection
CWM 20030109-017

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