The Birth of HMCS CHIPPAWA
Winnipeg's Navy Gets a New
Name and a New Building
In 1942, the barracks on Ellice avenue became crowded,
as hundreds of fresh recruits were being sought
in Winnipeg. A deal was made to purchase the Winnipeg
Winter Club on 51 Smith Street for $256,000. The
money was to be invested in Victory Bonds, to help
the war effort, and would later be reinvested into
building a new Winter Club. This deal was sealed
in October of 1942, and coincident to the move to
51 Smith Street the naval establishment in Winnipeg
became known as His Majesty's Canadian Ship CHlPPAWA.
This gave Winnipeg's
Naval Division identity. The name HMCS CHIPPAWA quickly
became a proud name within Winnipeg's military community,
and remains so today.
HMCS CHIPPAWA is
named after the vessel which led the line of Commander
Robert Heriot Barclay into action again the Americans
at the Battle of Lake Erie on 10 September 1813.
The ship had been
built by the Americans at Maumee in 1810, was captured
by the British shortly after the war began, and renamed
HM Schooner CHIPPAWA. The schooner was 35-tonne and
had a crew of fifteen. By best estimate, she was commanded
by John Campbell, a Provincial Marine Lieutenant.
(Other references list her Commander as Frederic Rolette
or Brenner) Her armament varied from two 8-inch howitzers
to her final configuration on the day of battle of
one 9 pounder mounted on a swivel. CHIPPAWA was captured
by the Americans during the battle, and was later
destroyed at the capture of Buffalo, Dec 30th 1813.
The ship itself
derived its name from the Indian tribe which inhabited
the area near the Saulte at the west end of Lake Superior.
The name "Chippawa" is a popular adaptation of Ojibway,
which means "to roast til puckered up" and refers
to the puckered seam on the moccasins of the tribe.
Chippawa warriors equalled in appearance the best
formed of the northwest Indians. They were mainly
a timber people, through long friendly with the whites.
The actual spelling
of the name lies somewhere between "Chippeawa" and
"Ojibwas" and is not easy for white men to pronounce.
Variations found in record are Chepawas, Chepeways,
Cheppewes, Cheapawawas, Chipaweighs, Chippawees, Chippeways,
Chippewas and Cypoways.
It was under the
name of HMCS CHIPPAWA that Winnipeg's Naval Reserve
made its greatest contribution. During the Second
World War, CHIPPAWA recruited a total of 297 officers
and 7,567 men, as well as the second-largest contingent
of WRENS (Women's Royal Naval Service) in the country,
HMCS CHIPPAWA became the third greatest source of
naval personnel in Canada, despite being the farthest
The CHIPPAWA Building, at 51 Navy Way, as
it looked in 1998. The building was demolished
in the fall of 1998 to make way for a new
Naval Reserve training facility which has
been built on the same site.
The Next Page: The
Honourable George Johnson, M.D.