Coxswain brothers mentor future leaders

CPO1 Joe Dagenais (left) and CPO1 Dan Dagenais (right)

Coxswain brothers mentor future leaders


With a collective 52 years of service, Joe and Dan Dagenais are a perfect example of family ties and dedication as Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Coxswains in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).

Younger brother Joe began his service in 1994. Motivated by his desire to leave his hometown in the prairies, Joe’s wish for an adventure on the water came true.

“I had been going home for visits because ironically enough I was posted to HMCS Regina back then,” Joe said about his early years in the RCN. “I went home for Remembrance Day, my brother saw me with my uniform on and he kept trying it on. I said to him, ‘If you want to join, just join us. You’re not getting any younger!'”

Joe and Dan Dagenais are Coxswains by trade and have both since rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer 1st Class (CPO1). Joe serves on HMCS Regina on the west coast, while Dan serves as part of the Canadian Armed Forces Transition Unit Nova Scotia.

Their mutual sense of love, dedication, and patriotism for the country is what got them both started in the RCN, but it’s the new generations of bright-eyed sailors that has kept them there for most of their adult lives.

“My job right now is to mentor the future leaders of the Navy,” said CPO1 Joe Dagenais. “I want to pass the torch on with some level of respect to say that the Navy’s in good hands once I leave.”

“The thing I’ve always enjoyed most is working with the younger members,” CPO1 Dan Dagenais said about his favourite part of working for the RCN. “We try to guide the organization and make it better than it was when we got here.”

The brothers spent their interviews taking playful jabs at each other. Joe made it clear that despite being younger, he has eight more years of service under his belt than his brother Dan; and is therefore “much cooler”.

“If you’re speaking with my brother, be sure to use small words,” Dan quipped.

Despite their playful banter, both brothers shared that their most memorable experience in the Navy was their opportunity to deploy together. While at sea training on opposite coasts, HMCS Halifax needed a coxswain to fill in for an unavailable member.

“One of the most memorable [experiences], and I don’t want him to know this, was the opportunity to sail with my brother at sea training,” Joe explained. “We got the chance to sail to Bermuda […] and spent some time in England together.”

“Being able to sail with my brother was awesome,” said Dan about this experience. “It was an incredible experience, and something we’ll never get to do again because of our ranks. So it was a once in a lifetime experience for us.”

Neither of the CPO1 brothers show any signs of stopping any time soon. They both feel incredibly proud of their accomplishments thus far and feel they still have more to offer the RCN.