On October 21, 1910, His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Niobe sailed into Halifax Harbour, making it the first warship of our fledgling navy to arrive in Canada.
The passage of the Naval Service Act in May 1910 formally established the Naval Service of Canada, but the arrival of Niobe in October, and HMCS Rainbow in November, mark the true birth of Canada’s Navy.
To this day sailors of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) still celebrate the occasion as a landmark event in the genesis of our navy.
Niobe Day is celebrated by the RCN on October 21 every year and gives personnel a chance to reflect on their collective accomplishments since 1910, what it means to be members of the profession of arms, and what is required of them to ensure the RCN’s continued excellence, both at sea and ashore, in the years to come.
Acquired from the Royal Navy (RN), Niobe was a Diadem-class protected cruiser that launched in 1897, serving around the world, in particular during the Second Boer War.
The date of arrival of Niobe in Canada was carefully timed to coincide with the 105th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in order to symbolize the transfer to the Naval Service of Canada the intangible and priceless winning tradition of the parent RN. It was natural for the new navy to model itself after the preeminent fighting service of the day.
Then Minister of the Naval Service, Louis-Philippe Brodeur (father and grandfather of two future admirals of the RCN), welcomed Niobe and its crew…