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Canada’s “Fightingest Ship” – HMCS Haida now a floating museum

October 2019

HMCS Haidia, the last surviving Royal Canadian Navy Tribal-class destroyer, has been called the “Fightingest Ship in the Royal Canadian Navy;” a ship that sank the most enemy surface tonnage of any other ship in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Celebrated RCN Vice-Admiral Henry “Harry” DeWolf, CBE, DSO, DSC, CD, was the first commanding officer of HMCS Haida, from August 1943 to September 1944. VAdm Dewolf famously carved a notch on the bridge rail for every ship sunk

During her twenty-year service, from 1943-1963, covering two wars, HMCS Haida earned five battle honours, all but one from World War II.

The size of the Tribal-class destroyers allowed them to fight more like small cruisers than fleet destroyers, and had a complement of 14 officers and 245 ratings.

After being paid off on 30 April 1963, HMCS Haida was sent to the Point Edward Naval Base, HMCS Protector, in Sydney, Nova Scotia and the following year she was scheduled for scrapping.

A private organization, Haida, Inc., formed by RCN veteran Neil Bruce, succeeded in acquiring Haida for use as a museum ship.

On 25 August 1964, Haida arrived in Toronto, Ontario, towed by two tugboats and crewed by a reservists from Toronto’s Naval Reserve Division HMCS York and featuring guest of honour, Vice-Admiral (Ret’d) Harry DeWolf, the first Commanding Officer of HMCS Haida.

Berthed initially at the pier on York Street, and then at Ontario Place in 1970 under the ownership of the Ontario government, Haida became a popular tourist attraction, as well as being used for Royal Canadian Sea Cadet training.

In 2002, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Hamilton, Ontario, Member of Parliament Shelia Copps, arranged for Parks Canada to purchase HMCS Haida, which was initially towed to a shipyard in Port Weller for a $5 million re-fit, and then on to Hamilton.

Since 30 August 2003, the 60th anniversary of her commissioning into the RCN, HMCS Haida has been birthed at HMCS Star Naval Reserve Division, formerly the home of the Great Lakes Training Centre and the Commander of Naval Divisions.

HMCS Haida was designated a National Historic Site in 1984 and the ceremonial flagship of the Royal Canadian Navy in 2018. She remains a popular tourist attraction.

Sources: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/on/haida/culture/histoire-history, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMCS_Haida.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/canadas-fightingest-ship-hmcs-haida-now-a-floating-museum/

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