HMCS Oriole hosts an old friend

HMCS Oriole was berthed at the Rotary Sunset Park Pier in Whitby from August 10-13.

HMCS Oriole hosts an old friend in Whitby

By Lt(N) Bill King,
Public Affairs Officer

Almost 3000 visitors boarded HMCS Oriole for free public tours in Whitby recently. The visit was part of the Great Lakes Deployment (GLD) for 2018.

Built in 1921, HMCS Oriole served as the flagship of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club racing out of Toronto until it was gifted to the Navy League to provide a training platform for sailors during the Second World War. Later commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in 1952, Oriole continued to serve as a training vessel based in Esquimalt B.C. until being sailed through the Panama Canal to Halifax last summer and undergoing a refit.

Local resident Art Corby served aboard Oriole IV in 1944.

While sailing on GLD 2018, Oriole’s crew of nine RCN sailors is augmented with a new batch of Sea Cadets each Sunday. On the occasion of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets 100th Anniversary, these training billets are being provided to roughly 10 cadets each week. The young sailors receive hands-on seamanship training Monday through Friday as the vessel repositions for public tours in another port.

The tours are quite popular with local residents in smaller ports that seldom host a RCN vessel. One such visitor was Art Corby of Whitby.

Now at 93 years of age, Art joined the RCN in March of 1944 and headed off for basic training. Returning as an Able Seaman in May, he joined Oriole IV and sailed aboard the ship until December. The ship was not commissioned at that time, and went by the name the Gooderham family christened it as their fourth racing yacht.

“We trained Sea Cadets in sailing, steering, use of lead and line, and basic seamanship, mostly out of Toronto,” said Art. “We went through the locks and up as far as Goderich that summer under the command of Lieutenant George Hamilton.”

“Although Oriole is fitted out with modern navigation aids and safety gear, the sails are rigged and operated much as when it was originally built. I need all 21 hands on deck to hoist seven sails,” said Commanding Officer, LCdr Drew Foran. “As a tall ship, Oriole is a piece of Canada’s history that attracts an audience and gives folks an opportunity to visit the ship and speak with RCN sailors.”

HMCS Oriole departed its home port of Halifax at the end of May. Thus far, the ship has hosted visitors in Toronto, Hamilton, Port Dalhousie, Oakville, Port Stanley, Windsor, and Port Colborne. Oriole moves on to Kingston, Trois-Rivières, Québec City, Sept-Îles, and Gaspé before returning to its home port in late September.