1923 - An Official Naval Presence
The Naval History of Manitoba
With the Spring of 1923, a Naval Reserve Division comes
Eustace Brock. The founder of the Naval Reserve in
n February of 1923 Lieutenant James
Hibbard, of Naval Headquarters in Ottawa, entered the office
of Mr Eustace Brock, the Assistant Secretary of the Great
West Life Assurance Company. After the exchange of obligatory
pleasantries, Lt Hibbard got to the point. "We would like
you to form a Naval Reserve company in Winnipeg," was the
challenge thrown down to Eustace Brock on that cold, wintry,
The challenge was accepted
and three weeks later Lieutenant Eustace Brock began a legacy
of Naval Reserve tradition and service that is still living
in the Winnipeg community today.
Early in March 1923 Lt.
Brock had managed to procure, in the McGregor Armouries, a
small office and a somewhat larger room for Winnipeg's Navy.
On the opening night over 100 applicants arrived, but most
of them were retired navy veterans who were not eligible to
serve due to age, infirmity, or both. By the 1st of May the
Captain-elect, Lieutenant Brock, with five other officers
and two petty officers, had over 50 Reservists enrolled.
Training for these new
seamen was arranged for near the end of May and was to take
place on the West Coast, at the naval base at Esquimalt, near
Victoria, BC. Special cars were arranged to be attached to
a westbound passenger train and all preparations were in order
to send our prairie sailors to sea. The sailors were fallen
in at McGregor Armouries in preparation for their departure
for Victoria when a cancellation telegram was received. This
very nearly completely disorganized the Winnipeg Company and
it was not until the following September that arrangements
could be made and sufficient men were again available to undergo
In the spring of 1924
Naval Headquarters in Ottawa made arrangements to lease the
Rat-Portage Lumber Company building in Norwood. On 22 April
1924, in the presence of the Deputy Minister of National Defence,
Mr G. J. Desbarats, the White Ensign was hoisted to the masthead
and broke out and flew free for the first time on Manitoba
The Commanding Officer,
now Commander Brock, had the Winnipeg Half Company RCNVR recruited
and manned up to her full strength of 100. During the summer
of 1924, the arrival of two authentic 27-foot whalers had
the Winnipeg navy well established.
(Winnipeg, 1927) The Winnipeg Half Company marches
past the Governor General of Canada.
In the years following,
the Winnipeg Half Company RCNVR moved, from the Rat-Portage
Lumber Company Building (still standing at Marion and St.
Mary's as the Poulin's Building) to the old St Matthews Church
on the corner of Sherbrook Street and Ellice Avenue, to a
condemned fire hall on Gertrude Avenue just off Osborne Street
(now demolished), to space at the Security Storage building
on Ellice Avenue, to its present berth at the old Winnipeg
Winter Club. The Winnipeg Company had also been upgraded to
the Winnipeg Division RCNVR in 1936.
The Next Page: 1938 - Winnipeg's
Navy is Going Strong.