By Richard H. Gimblett
Canada proudly celebrates 100 years of naval service in 2010. This lavishly illustrated commemorative volume chronicles the full century of the Canadian Navy as a proud national institution. The editor, Dr. Richard Gimblett, is the command historian of the Canadian Navy. The foreword is by Governor General Michaëlle Jean (as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces) and the 11 contributors are highly recognized authorities on their particular period. The comprehensive coverage includes the origins of the Canadian Navy back to 1867, both world wars, the Korean conflict, the postwar period, and a look at the navy of the future.
A couple of illustrations of note in the book: a view of the four DDH 280-class ships from the 1970s when they were referred to as the “sisters of the space age.” An addition to this would have noted that class leader Iroquois was the third oldest front line combatant in the world at the time of the book’s publication in 2009. Another was a Fairey Aircraft advertisement from the 1960s optimistically but ultimately vainly hoping that Restigouche-class destroyer escorts would be converted to helicopter carrying DDH status.
There is also a section on naval war art as well as profiles of ships and aircraft through the years in Canadian naval service. Unfortunately this is where the book ultimately disappoints historcial purists.
The artist who made the profiles obviously put lots of work into them but they are marred by sloppy research. On page 47 the artwork of HMCS Champlain shows the World War II hull number for HMS Hasty and the one of HMCS Saguenay on page 51 shows the World War II hull number for HMS Hotspur and the aircraft carriers on page 147 shows HMS Nabob’s hull number as 77 instead of the correct D 77.
While a sharper eye would have improved the final product, the book is worth recommending.