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Canadian sailor was a founding father of the Royal Canadian Navy

September 2018

In the history of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), many notable Canadians have worn the uniform but none more notable than Admiral Sir Charles Kingsmill, who along with Rear-Admiral Walter Hose, founder of the RCN Volunteer Reserve, is considered one of the founding fathers of the RCN and the first director of the Department of Naval Service.

Admiral Kingsmill was born prior to the Confederation of Canada in 1855 in Guelph, Canada West (now Ontario).  Joining the Royal Navy in 1870 as a midshipman, Kingsmill  would go on to a distinguished career, commanding HM Ships Goldfinch (1890–91), Blenheim (1895–95), Archer (1895–98), Gibraltar (1900), Mildura (1900–03), Resolution, Majestic (1905–06), and Dominion (1907).

However, his career in the Royal Navy ended on somewhat of a down-note as he was court-martialled for “grave neglect of duty” for not being on the bridge, thus allowing HMS Dominion to run-aground in Chaleur Bay in August 1906 while on a good-will tour of Canada.

Kingsmill was given command of the battleship HMS Repulse a year later, but retired in 1908 after a 38 year career.

After returning to Canada, Kingsmill was appointed the honorary aide-de-camp to His Excellency Governor General, The Earl Grey in 1909.  He later moved on to become the director of the Marine Service with the Department of Marine and Fisheries and with the formation of the RCN, he was appointed the director of Naval Service of Canada on 4 May 1910.

Admiral Kingsmill retired as the Director of Naval Service and from the Royal Canadian Navy on 31 December 1921 after almost half a century of naval service.  He died at his summer home on Grindstone Island, near Portland, Ontario and was buried in the nearby Emmanuel Anglican Cemetery.

During his lifetime, Admiral Kingsmill received numerous awards and medals, including being made a knight bachelor in 1918; a Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown of Italy; an officer of the Legion of Honour (France – 1906); the Egypt Medal (1884-1885) and the Khedive’s Star (for service in Egypt).

Among the posthumous honours bestowed on Admiral Sir Charles Kingsmill include the naming of the junior officers’ quarters at the Canadian Naval Officer Training Centre, Venture, at Canada’s west-coast naval base, Maritime Forces Pacific Naden, in his honour.

Sources:  www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/plaques/admiral-sir-charles-edmund-kingsmill-1855-1935, www.readyayeready.com, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Kingsmill#p-search

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/canadian-sailor-was-a-founding-father-of-the-royal-canadian-navy/

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