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Canadian Merchant Navy
Flag of Canada.svg
Statistics for the shipping industry of Canada
Total: 184 ships (1,000 gross register tons (GRT) or over)
Totalling: 2,129,243 GRT/2,716,340 metric tons deadweight (DWT)
Cargo ships
Bulk ships 66
Cargo ship 12
Combination bulk ships 1
Container ships 2
Roll-on / roll-off ships 6
Vehicle carrier 1
Chemical tanker ships 14
Petroleum tanker ships 12
Passenger ships
General passenger ships 6
Combined passenger/cargo 64
Source: This article contains material from the CIA World Factbook which, as a US government publication, is in the public domain.

Canada, like several other Commonwealth nations, created its own Merchant Navy in a large-scale effort during World War II.


The 529-foot Canadian laker James Carruthers on Lake Huron in 1913.

Within hours of Canada's declaration of war on September 10, 1939, the Canadian government passed laws to create the Canadian Merchant Navy setting out rules and controls to provide a workforce for wartime shipping. The World War II Merchant Navy greatly expanded a similar effort in World War I known as the Canadian Mercantile Marine. The Canadian Merchant Navy played a major role in the Battle of the Atlantic bolstering the allies merchant fleet due to high losses in the British Merchant Navy. Eventually thousands of Canadians served aboard hundreds of Canadian Merchant Navy ships, notably the "Park Ships", the Canadian equivalent of the American "Liberty Ships". Rear Admiral Leonard W. Murray reported,

The Battle of the Atlantic was not won by any Navy or any Air Force, it was won by the courage, fortitude and determination of the British and Allied Merchant Navy.[1]

A school was established at St. Margaret's Bay, Nova Scotia to train sailors for the Canadian Merchant Navy, who became known as "Merchant Mariners." Manning Pools, or barracks, were built in major Canadian ports to house Merchant Mariners. The Merchant Navy was considered a fourth branch of the Canadian military alongside the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force, and suffered the highest casualty rate of the four.

After the war, Canadian Merchant Navy veterans were denied veterans benefits and official recognition for decades. This was not corrected until the 1990s and many individual cases remain unresolved. Similar to the CMM Veterans status, World War II United States Merchant Marine Veterans were also denied veterans benefits and status until 1988.

An important gesture in 2001 was the creation of Merchant Navy Remembrance Day by the Canadian Parliament which designated September 3 as a day to recognize the contributions and sacrifice of Canadian merchant mariners.[2]


"Royal Canadian Naval Association Naval Memorial"(1995) by André Gauthier (sculptor) in Spencer Smith Park
Plaque in Halifax commemorating the contribution of the merchant marine during the World Wars
Engraving of SS Point Pleasant Park, Canadian Merchant Navy Monument, Sackville Landing, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • "Royal Canadian Naval Association Naval Memorial (1995)" by André Gauthier (sculptor) was erected on the shore of Lake Ontario in Spencer Smith Park in Burlington, Ontario. The 6’4” high cast bronze statue depicts a WWII Canadian sailor in the position of attention saluting his lost shipmates. The model for the statue was a local Sea Cadet wearing Mike Vencel's naval service uniform.[3] On the black granite base, the names of Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Merchant Navy ships sunk during WWII are engraved.[4]
  • A commemorative plaque in SS Point Pleasant Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia unveilled in 1967, "When the United Kingdom declared war on Germany in 1914, Canada and Newfoundland's participation was virtually unquestioned. With the onset of the Second World War in 1939 Canadians and Newfoundlanders once more rushed to enlist and were a major factor in the Allied victories in both conflicts. During two world wars the main duty of the Royal Canadian Navy was to escort convoys in the Atlantic and guard merchant vessels against the threat of attack by German submarines. In the Second World War, it also escorted ships in the Mediterranean and to Russia and supported the Allied landings in Sicilian, Italian and Normandy campaigns as well as in the Pacific. The Canadian Merchant Navy's duties included the transportation of troops and supplies to the Allied armies and food for the United Kingdom, extremely dangerous work which resulted in considerable losses."
  • at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia. "In memory of 2200 known Canadian Merchant Seamen and 91 Canadian vessels lost by enemy action and those who served in the cause of freedom - World War I 1914-1918; World War II 1939-1945; Korean Conflict 1950-1953"

Canadian Merchant Navy Memorials[edit]

Monuments to the Canadian Merchant Navy were erected in several Canadian cities:


World War II[edit]


Ships built in Canada and crewed by Canadian Sailors and named after Parks in Canada[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Merchant_Navy — Please support Wikipedia.
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44 news items

Comox Valley Record
Mon, 11 May 2015 14:45:00 -0700

The Canadian Merchant Navy lost over 1,700 seamen during WWII. The British Merchant Navy lost in excess of 32,000, the highest per capita rate than any of the other forces. During WWII, the Merchant Navy saw continuous action in the longest battle of ...

Toronto Sun

Toronto Sun
Sat, 02 May 2015 16:02:44 -0700

Canadian merchant navy veteran Ray Cameron is eager to share war-time memories with his grandson during the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands. At 17 years old, Josh Perin is the same age as Cameron when he joined the merchant ...

The Kingston Whig-Standard

The Kingston Whig-Standard
Fri, 08 May 2015 04:37:30 -0700

Together, the Canadian Merchant Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) provided a lifeline to Europe. However, throughout the six year battle, Nazi U-boats targeted supply convoys, sinking many supply ships.


Thu, 14 May 2015 12:18:45 -0700

Hundreds of members of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Canadian Merchant Navy died while keeping the shipping lanes open between Europe and North America. Members of the public are encouraged to ...

The Daily Courier (subscription)

The Daily Courier (subscription)
Sun, 03 May 2015 18:26:00 -0700

A year ago, at the annual general meeting of the Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans' Association in Ottawa, members decided to try to keep going one more year, recalled Maxwell, who has been a member of that organization since day one. He is also a ...


Tue, 05 May 2015 13:15:00 -0700

By late 1942, Royal Canadian Air Force Maritime aircraft were ranging far and wide from bases in the Maritimes and Newfoundland and the Canadian merchant navy had grown from nothing to over 100 ships. From a standing start, our contribution to victory ...

Net Newsledger

Net Newsledger
Fri, 01 May 2015 02:34:07 -0700

THUNDER BAY – Entertainment – This is a busy weekend in Thunder Bay. The Folklore Festival gets going at the Fort William Gardens on Saturday at 11AM and goes through on Saturday until 11PM. Organizers promise that it is a HOT Saturday night with ...
Canada NewsWire (press release)
Fri, 01 May 2015 05:00:00 -0700

The Battle of the Atlantic was a pivotal struggle during the Second World War, lasting from September 1939 to May 1945, which was courageously fought by the men and women of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Merchant Navy, and the Royal ...

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