RCN sports history: Tug-of-war at HMCS Cornwallis
By Ryan Melanson,
It may not be as common an activity in the modern day, but tug-of-war battles have been a naval tradition for well over a century, with Royal Navy inter-service competitions taking place as far back as 1896.
In 1965, the inter-divisional tug-of-war championships were a major monthly event in the new entry training sports program at HMCS Cornwallis, with young groups of sailors eager to prove themselves stronger than their RCN colleagues. In February of that year, the tug-of-war trophy went to HMCS Fraser 3/46 Division. The Commanding Officer of Cornwallis, Capt(N) J.M. Paul, called on OS Alexander Carmichael to accept the trophy on behalf of his team, noting that he looked especially sturdy on his feet through the contest, and likely was the deciding factor in his team’s victory.
This month in RCN sports history:
1949 – HMCS Stadacona made it three consecutive championships in the Halifax Canadian Football League by defeating the Wanderers in a sudden-death final for the 1949 title and bringing the Purdy Trophy back to the base. Commissioned Engineer Frank Hindle was the head coach, while Commissioned Stores Officer Les Jackson acted as team manager. Cmdre A.M. Hope was on hand to congratulate the players and sit in on the team photo.
1950 – HMCS Micmac, the latest addition to the East Coast fleet after its recommissioning in 1949, began making a name for itself in Fleet sports. February saw personnel from the ship get hockey wins over HMC ships Magnificent and Swansea, with Commanding Officer LCdr Frewer and CPO Moore both lacing up their skates to take part. Micmac also took down ships Portage and La Hulloise in friendly basketball games that month, and organized an impressive rifle team with multiple sharpshooters who made the overall RCN team in previous years.
1979 – In a match dubbed The Battle of the Sexes, a group of CFB Halifax and CFB Shearwater representatives took on the Halifax Ladies Ringette Team in a friendly exhibition at the Shannon Park rink. The teams played a competitive back-and-forth game, but the military men, captained by LCol Ivan Webb, came out on top 8-5 over the women, who were led by Judy Lake. Ringette was in the spotlight nationally throughout the year, with Ringette Canada holding its first ever national championship tournament in Winnipeg. The event has since been held in Halifax in 1982, 1999, and 2007.
1997 – The CFB Halifax fencing team placed third at one of the largest tournaments in North America. The team, comprised of SLt Chris Howlett, SLt David Benoit, SLt Mike Wood and A/SLt Ed Hooper travelled to Kingston for the RMC Invitational Fencing Tournament, competing against 23 military and civilian teams from across the country and abroad. CFB Halifax’s final match saw them triumph over the HMCS Carleton “A” squad to secure third place in the Men’s Epee division.