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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.


An informal merchant navy appears in 1914 at the start of World War I and was renamed as Canadian Government Merchant Marine in 1918, but slowly disappeared by 1930[1]

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.[2]

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.[3]

From 1945 to 1950 the Merchant Navy slowly disappeared until no merchant ships were left.[4]


"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.[5] On the black granite base, the names of Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Merchant Navy ships sunk during WWII are engraved.[6]
  • 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"

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


World War II[edit]



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


Wed, 27 Apr 2016 19:26:15 -0700

His father, Shamont was a seaman with the Canadian Merchant Navy. Sobers Sr died when the Germans sank his ship in 1942, when little Garfield was just five, leaving his mother Thelma to look after six children. Only after his father's death did Sobers ...


Mon, 25 Apr 2016 08:00:00 -0700

Saskatoon's Mayor and the Commanding Officer of HMCS Unicorn will raise the Canadian Naval Ensign in Civic Square this morning (Mon) to remember the Battle of the Atlantic. This battle was fought by the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Merchant ...

Breitbart News

Breitbart News
Wed, 13 Jan 2016 03:57:31 -0800

TEL AVIV – The Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces, Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, boasted that Tuesday's capture and subsequent release of 10 American sailors “proved how vulnerable the U.S. is in front of powerful Iranian forces.” His comments ...


Mon, 18 Aug 2014 16:26:15 -0700

He said the current Canadian merchant navy fleet is small, and the horrors experienced by the merchant navy during the Second World War don't mean anything to most current sailors because they've never had to worry about dealing with U-boats and ...

The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail
Fri, 09 Oct 2015 02:33:45 -0700

In 1941, his brother Billy died while serving on a Canadian Merchant Navy ship in the English Channel. Not long after, Gordon met the love of his life, Mae Midgley, while delivering packages to a shipyard in North Vancouver where she worked as a secretary.

Edmonton Journal

Edmonton Journal
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 16:53:39 -0800

There's also one for the Canadian merchant navy, tucked away near the Centennial Flame. It commemorates the Battle of the Atlantic and the civilian sailors who maintained the lifeline between North America and Britain. That's a battle of particular ...

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 ...

Net Newsledger

Net Newsledger
Sun, 28 Aug 2011 18:07:30 -0700

During the Second World War, the Canadian Merchant Navy suffered heavily, losing one seafarer in eight from the 12,000 who served on Canadian, British and Allied merchant ships. Some spent more than four years interned as prisoners of war. “As we mark ...

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