As the federal government prepares to mark the 100th anniversary of the Canadian navy next month, the ship seen as the birthplace of the country's maritime fighting force is edging closer to formal recognition and protection as a national historic site - in the United States.
The CGS Canada, the armed vessel on which the nation's first naval recruits trained ahead of the official creation of Canada's navy in 1910, was later sold and renamed the Queen of Nassau before sinking off the Florida Keys in 1926.
Discovered by recreational divers in 2001, the ship has been probed extensively by U.S. Marine archeologists, who are now working toward designating the wreck a historic site because of its significance in the evolution of Canada's military.
"We're still in the process of writing the nomination," said Tane Casserley, national maritime heritage co-ordinator with NOAA, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Casserley, who completed his master's thesis on the history of CGS Canada/Queen of Nassau, has chronicled the story of the ship since it was built in 1904, describing the 61-metre cruiser as nothing less than "the nucleus of the Royal Canadian Navy."
In 2006, when artifacts recovered from the shipwreck were displayed at the Vancouver Maritime Museum under a special bi-national agreement, the warship was also hailed as "the cradle of Canada's naval forces."
Launched from a British shipyard, the CGS Canada was commissioned by the federal government to patrol our Atlantic fishing grounds. But amid international tensions in the first decade of the 20th century, the ship became the main training vessel for the officers of a Canadian navy that wouldn't be formally established until May 4, 1910.
The Canadian Forces website dedicated to this year's naval centennial notes that CGS Canada played a key role in the formation of a proto-navy.
"If not a navy," the site says, Canada's fisheries patrol vessels "did the job of a small one. Eight of the fisheries cruisers were armed, the most noteworthy of which was CGS Canada, and these latter vessels were operated in all respects as warships."
Nova Scotia maritime historian Marven Moore has called CGS Canada "the flagship of the embryonic Canadian Navy" that was "symbolic of the evolution of Canada from a dominion within the British Empire to a sovereign nation."
When the navy was created following a bitter national debate, most of the crew who served on the new HMCS Niobe and HMCS Rainbow - Canada's first official naval vessels - had learned the ropes aboard CGS Canada.
The ship went on to serve in the First World War as a minesweeper and protector of troop convoys. It was later sold to a private company, renamed Queen of Nassau and used as a luxury liner for cruises between Florida and the Bahamas.
It sank in mysterious circumstances off the Florida coast in 1926 and wouldn't be found for 75 years.
Explored and definitively identified in 2002 by Casserley and other NOAA officials, the ex-CGS Canada was declared "remarkably intact."
The centennial of Canada's navy is to be celebrated next month with ceremonies across the country and the unveiling of plans for a $2-million monument near the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
The question of whether Canada should create its own navy was a major political issue in the early 1900s. With Conservatives pushing for Canada to the contribute to the buildup of Britain's naval forces and French Canada balking at deeper involvement in imperial politics, the Liberals under prime minister Wilfrid Laurier opted to create a small Canadian naval force that could, in case of war, be placed under British command.
The compromise, which pleased few and eventually contributed to Laurier's defeat in the 1911 election, was embodied in the use of the CGS Canada - still designated for fisheries patrol duty - to build skills and knowledge among the future leaders of the country's own navy.
Some historians trace the roots of the Royal Canadian Navy - later part of the unified Canadian Forces - to a military training expedition aboard the CGS Canada to the West Indies in 1905.
The ship's postwar life as a luxury liner ended, amid financial turmoil, just after she was sold in 1926 to a Mexican company. En route to her new port in the dead of night, the Queen of Nassau reportedly began taking on water. But her sinking was slow enough for the captain to steer her to the deepest channel in the area and to get all crew safely aboard lifeboats.
Among the relics displayed at the Vancouver museum in 2006 was the ship's torpedo-like speedometer, which then-curator James Delgado called an "iconic" symbol of Canada's nation-building race to become a naval power.
The "taffrail log" was towed behind the ship to measure how fast it was moving through the water. Other artifacts displayed included part of the ship's lantern, British-made dinnerware and the handle from a hatch.
"These artifacts can be a doorway to telling a much bigger story," Delgado said at the time.
"This was the first modern warship purchased by Canada," he noted, adding that the CGS Canada "should be famous in Canada, but which time has ensured the nation has forgotten."
Choose a user id, register today,
and be a part of the world's largest active Cussler forum. no fees
Keep your email address here updated to ensure that you receive breaking news!
mayday the mediterranean caper iceberg raise the titanic
vixen 03 night probe pacific vortex deep six cyclops treasure dragon sahara
inca gold shock wave the sea hunters flood tide dirk pitt revealed serpent atlantis
found blue gold valhalla rising fire ice the sea hunters 2 white death golden
buddha trojan odyssey lost city sacred stone black wind dark watch treasure of khan arctic drift polar shift the navigator skeleton coast plague ship vin fizz the chase
clive cussler dirk cussler craig dirgo paul kemprecos
dirk pitt al giordino matthew mcconaughey penelope cruz
author sign signing signed rare scarce club fansite fan
site tony krome book used books rare book store library nautical maritime ocean
sea adventure writing clubs collector's club collector's clubs Collectors clubs
cussler's new book forum chat discussion collect cussler collection clive cussler
forum ccforum message board
sahara the movie new sahara film crusader productions
paramount morocco spain red tide sahara trailer movie trailer sahara preview clive cussler sahara