HMCS Summerside’s namesake city visit

SLt Gallant and LS Gallant, aboard the cardboard replica HMCS Summerside, not only won the race but carried out a successful search and rescue mission for the crewmembers of the Banana Splash cardboard boat.

NCSM Summerside crew visits namesake city for annual Lobster Carnival

By Lt(N) Guillaume Desjardins,
HMCS Summerside

Seven crew members of HMCS Summerside visited their Namesake City during its annual lobster carnival from July 12-14, taking part in various cultural and charity events. In true island tradition, the crew were greeted with warmth and welcomed like family into the community. In fact, the crew was invited to participate in many of the carnival’s events including the Biscuit and Roll competition, the Community BBQ, the Traditional Lobster Dinner and most importantly the Lobster Eating Competition and Cardboard Boat Race.

Summerside‘s Commanding Officer, LCdr Emily Lambert, was asked to be one of three judges for the Biscuit and Roll competition. LCdr Lambert sampled over 26 biscuits and rolls to crown both a biscuit and roll champion from amongst the many great participants with bragging rights at stake. She had this to say after the judging: “It was difficult to pick out the best biscuit and roll from so many wonderful entries. Thank you to all the participants for a little taste of heaven.”

That same day, four members of Summerside‘s crew were randomly selected to take part in a Lobster Eating Competition with the aim of seeing who among the 10 participants could eat a lobster the fastest. The participants included SLt Steven Gallant, one of the ship’s watch keepers, PO1 Mark Cyr, the ship’s chief engineer who was eating lobster for the first time ever, LS Mike Gallant, a marine technician on board who hails from Summerside, and PO1 Adam Boone, the ship’s coxswain. PO1 Boone placed second in the competition and was crowned winner after the first place finisher, Jim Cooke, a local fisher, relinquished his title in a show of good sportsmanship due to his extensive experience. Both the first and second place winners exchanged hats and shared seafaring tales. Regardless of how they finished, it’s fair to say that all the participants were winners as no one ever loses when eating lobster.

The final event at the carnival was the long awaited cardboard boat race in front of a very large crowd. The ship had a lot to prove as they had been the first to sink the previous year and the RCN’s honor was a stake. Armed with many, many rolls of Damage Control tape (Duct Tape), this year’s entry looked formidable and ready to take on the field after being paraded through the streets of the city in the morning during the city’s parade. After many intense races, the cardboard boat of Summerside sailed to victory and was crowned champion in front of what seemed like the entire city. In true RCN fashion, at the end of the last race of the cardboard boat race, the replica cardboard boat HMCS Summerside turned around to go rescue the crew of the sinking Banana Splash cardboard boat.  On completion of the races, an ensuing cardboard boat destruction derby was underway with the rest of the cardboard boats zeroing in on the ship and capsized the HMCS Summerside cardboard boat, raising a large cheer from the crowd.

When not otherwise engaged in cardboard warfare or eating, the crew assisted the local volunteers with serving the famous lobster dinner and helped to sever up hot dogs at the community BBQ. Lorri Ellis, manager of heritage and culture for the city of Summerside had this to say about the crew’s participation: “Having HMCS Summerside personnel involved and supporting our Lobster Carnival means a great deal to our staff. All involved were wholeheartedly giving of their time. They did it with smiles, professionalism and most importantly with heart. Their help means more their words can say. Thank you.”

The trip also gave the team an opportunity to meet with the City’s Mayor, Bill Martin, where we discussed what was going on in the city of Summerside and upcoming projects, while seated in the council chambers of city hall. It was quite apparent that the city had made some significant progress and the sense of community and the pride that residents feel about their beloved city was discussed. The crew also had the chance to visit the Summerside Fire Hall and to learn about the large volunteer firefighter crew from volunteer firefighter Jim McCausland. The crew was also able to re-connect with Mrs. Theresa Gallant, Summerside’s ship’s sponsor, and daughter Bonita Gallant. The meetings with the City’s Mayor and ship sponsor gave the crew the opportunity to highlight what the ship had been up to in the last year, and all of its successes.

The following day, the crew was able to give back to the community by helping serve a pancake breakfast at the local Royal Canadian Legion Branch 5 in support of Generation XX, a local youth support center. Finally, the command team was invited to Summerside’s Boys and Girls Club annual celebrity gala dinner where they presented a charitable donation on behalf of the entire ship company, the donation having been collected by the ship during the year.

After this whirlwind visit, all crewmembers departed the community with a greater appreciation of the island’s charm and hospitality leaving behind new friends while also strengthening the bonds between the ship and its namesake city, and enjoying bellies full of lobster.

Following the ship’s visit, the ship received the following email message from Marlene Campbell, organizer of the Lobster Carnival.

“Again I just want to thank the members of the crew of HMCS Summerside who came to Summerside to be part of the 62nd Lobster Carnival. Your presence really added to the carnival atmosphere, and we’ve had nothing but positive feedback from the public about your involvement. The crew made every event they were involved with so much more fun for everyone. Our volunteers really enjoyed working with each of you at the suppers. I felt rather bad asking you to work, but the crew just made it fun for everyone. We will truly miss having you next year.”