WarningThis information has been archived for reference or research purposes.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats on the "Contact Us" page.

Book Reviews

Book cover: CITIZEN SAILORS: CHRONICLES OF CANADA’S NAVAL RESERVE, 1910-2010, Richard H. Gimblett & Michael L. Hadley (eds.)

CITIZEN SAILORS: CHRONICLES OF CANADA’S NAVAL RESERVE, 1910-2010, Richard H. Gimblett & Michael L. Hadley (eds.)

by Jurgen Duewel

Print PDF

For more information on accessing this file, please visit our help page.

Richard H. Gimblett & Michael L. Hadley (eds.)
Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2010
249 pages, $ 39.95
ISBN: 978-1-55488-867-2

Reviewed by Jurgen Duewel

This book is the companion work to Richard Gimblett's, The Naval Service of Canada 1910-2010: The Centennial Story. This time, however, the navy's centennial is told from the prospective of the Naval Reserve. As with his first book, Gimblett has gathered a number of respected naval historians to help tell the tale of the history of the Naval Reserve. Similar to the Centennial Story, Citizen Sailors is filled with a large number of photographs and colour plates, which provide a wonderful tribute to the history of the Canadian Navy.

The first part of the book explores the early painful years of the navy as it struggled for survival amid indifferent governments and inadequate funding, as Canada itself suffered through the Great Depression. Louis Christ provides a good account of how the farsightedness of Commodore Hose, through the establishment of a Volunteer Reserve, with divisions stationed throughout the country, created, in Richard Mayne's words, "the People's Navy." Barbara Winters then makes a strong case that, without the creation of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR), the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) may have disappeared altogether. Another interesting piece is David Parson's chapter on the Newfoundland Division of Britain’s Royal Naval Reserve (RNR), composed of fisherman and merchant mariners, a formation which would serve as the model for Canada's own Royal Canadian Naval Reserve (RCNR). Then, Richard Mayne does a good job of shattering some of the myths from the Second World War, and describes how victory in that conflict was a "total force" effort by all three elements of the navy, the RCN, the RCNVR and the RCNR.

Michael Hadley and Ian Holloway will delight the reader with some ‘salty dips’ of the colourful life in the Naval Reserve, which can only be described as having the air of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. However, Bob Blakey's chapter takes a more serious turn as the world changed after 9/11. Nonetheless, thanks to some farsighted planning, excellent training, and timely acquisition of new ships, namely the Kingston Class, the Naval Reserve was ready to assume its new role in coastal defence. Hugues Létourneau recounts the history of the navy in Quebec, and the ongoing difficulties for both Quebecers and the Navy in developing a comfort level with each other.

In the epilogue, Fraser McKee summarizes how Hose proved to be correct: "… a people's navy could be done," and it has continued so for over 100 years. McKee emphasizes the point that the Naval Reserve and the Naval Officer's Association of Canada (NOAC) have always been and continue to be the strongest advocates and defenders of Canada's naval traditions. Finally, the appendices by Carl Gagnon pertaining to the vessels of the Naval Reserve, and Gimblett's and Colin Stewart's history of the Naval Reserve Divisions are valuable additions to the book.

Doctors Gimblett and Hadley have done an admirable job in putting together this book, a worthy companion to the Centennial Story, and a book that should be on everyone's list that has an interest Canada's history and her navy.

CMJ Logo

Lieutenant-Commander Jurgen Duewel is a Maritime Surface Officer on staff at the Canadian Defence Academy in Kingston. He holds a Masters of Arts Degree in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada, and is presently working on a doctorate in Educational Leadership.

Top of Page