Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

AdChoices
Veterans participate in a burial at sea ceremony on HMCS Sackville, which saw the ashes of 24 members of Canada's military placed in the waters outside Halifax harbour yesterday during a ceremony marking the Battle of the Atlantic. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)
Veterans participate in a burial at sea ceremony on HMCS Sackville, which saw the ashes of 24 members of Canada's military placed in the waters outside Halifax harbour yesterday during a ceremony marking the Battle of the Atlantic. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Royal Canadian Navy

Navy celebrates centennial by restoring historic insignia Add to ...

It's a ring-shaped design whose comeback resonates with the men and women serving in Canada's navy as a welcome effort to reclaim a part of its history and identity.

The executive curl, a loop on the gold braid of a naval officer's rank insignia on shoulder epaulets and tunic sleeves, is being reinstated more than 40 years after it fell out of use when the three Canadian armed services were unified.

The move, announced yesterday, is intended to mark the 100th anniversary of the navy, known as the Royal Canadian Navy from its inception in 1910 until 1968.

The curl goes back to the navy's earliest days, and its reinstatement is viewed as a point of pride and a morale booster.

Tory MP Guy Lauzon introduced a bill in March to reinstate the executive curl and it was passed in Parliament. The move caps years of grumbling by navy personnel and supporters to bring back some of the trappings of the former Royal Canadian Navy.

"This being the centennial, it was decided that this would be something nice to do for the sailors," said Lieutenant Stefan Campbell, a navy spokesman.

"It's a return to naval roots."

Lieutenant Sue Stefko, another navy spokeswoman, calls it "a gesture made by the government to honour our 100 years and our historic past. It certainly does take us back."

Defence Minister Peter MacKay made the announcement yesterday in front of a small crowd of sailors at Canadian Forces Base Halifax. He said he had just returned from the High Arctic where navy ships have helped reassert Canadian sovereignty despite harsh conditions, and he commended Canada's sailors for their efforts to thwart terrorism in southwest Asia since the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

"Tonne for tonne, sailor for sailor, we take a back seat to no one - Canada's navy is among the best in the world," he said.

But there was a time when the navy didn't have much to crow about.

Only four years after it came into being, the Royal Canadian Navy had only two ships and 350 men as Canada was thrust into the First World War. It could offer little more than modest patrols while German U-boats sank several Canadian fishing trawlers and schooners off the East Coast.

By contrast, the navy played a decisive role during the Second World War by assuming responsibility for the northwest Atlantic, the only major theatre of the war to be commanded by Canadians.

The Battle of the Atlantic saw the navy escort more than 25,000 merchant ships to Europe.

With a report from The Canadian Press

Report Typo/Error

Follow on Twitter: @globemontreal

 

Next story

loading

Trending

loading

Most popular videos »

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular