This article deals with navy mail during the Karsh to Cameo periods, 1953-1966, and is organized as follows:
1. Ships at Sea
2. Home Ports
3. Great Lakes
4. Naval Reserve Units
5. Sea Cadets
6. Souvenir Mail
1. Ships at Sea
Canadian ships at sea did not cancel mail posted on board the ship. When the ship was in a foreign port, a mail orderly brought and picked up sealed bags of mail at the local post office or at the Canadian embassy or consulate. (Bailey and Toop at page 56 of The Canadian Military Posts Volume 3)
Naval Mail Cachets
Ship mail was identified by the use of circular naval mail cachets :
HMCS Ontario was a Minotaur class light cruise built for the Royal Navy as HMS Minotaur but transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy on completion in 1944 and renamed Ontario. She was used for training duties postwar until paid off on October 15, 1958.
Forces Air Letter mailed from the HMCS Ontario (Pacific Ocean) , ship cachet February 6, 1954
Cancelled at Victoria HMCS Dockyard, February 11, 1954:
Victoria HMCS Dockyard
HMCS Quebec (C66) was a Crown Colony class light cruiser that served the Royal Canadian Navy as HMCS Uganda (C66) during World War II. Renamed in 1952, HMCS Quebec served until she was decommissioned in 1956.
The cover below was described in an earlier article, Coronation Review of the Fleet.
HMCS Quebec, Spithead, England to RCAF Station Chatham
Ship cachet, June 13, 1953
Cancelled at Montreal, June 16, 1953
The icebreaker HMCS (later CCGS) Labrador was commissioned into the Canadian Navy in July 1954. The Labrador was the first ship to circumnavigate North America when, in 1954, she transited the Northwest Passage and returned to Halifax through the Panama Canal. Labrador was also involved in the construction of the Distant Early Warning Line, a chain of radar stations built in the mid-1950s to detect incoming Soviet bombers. In 1958, Labrador was transferred to the Department of Transport becoming the first Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker.
HMCS Labrador ship cachet October 17, 1955
Montreal cancellation, October 20, 1955
The HMCS Lauzon (FFE 322) was a Prestonian-class WWII ocean escort frigate that was converted from a River-class frigate placed in reserve following the end of WWII. Lauzon served until 1963.
HMCS Lauzon ship cachet June 15, 1956
Cancelled at FMO Halifax, June 31, 1956
Unidentified Ships To 1956
Posted on ship in Italy, November 5, 1954 and cancelled at Halifax on November 9, 1954
Ship cachet October 14, 1955
Cancelled at Montreal, October 18, 1955
Numbered Ship Cachets
In 1956, rubber ship cachets with numbers were produced and assigned to ships.
HMCS New Waterford
HMCS New Waterford 304 was a River-class frigate that served in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1943- 1945 and as a Prestonian-class frigate from 1958 -1968.
Post Card from crewman on board HMCS New Waterford in port at Copenhagen, Denmark
Ship Cachet # 6 assigned to New Waterford dated May 23, 1966
Cancelled at Montreal AMF, May 29, 1966
View of the Royal Danish Arsenal Mueum
HMCS Fraser (DDH 233) is a St. Laurent-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and later the Canadian Forces from 1957 -1994. The St. Laurent-class destroyers were the first Canadian designed and built warships.
HMCS Fraser letter to Ottawa
Ship Cachet # 59 dated April 14, 1965
Cancelled at Vancouver April 18, 1965
Crest on back of envelope
Great Lakes Cruise
Posted on board ship in the Great Lakes
Indistinct numbered ship cachet, August 2, 1960
Cancelled at Toronto, August 3, 1960
Ship Cachet # 31
Post Card sent from crewman whose ship was in Hawaii
Ship Cachet # 31, dated June 21, 1964 (#31 unlisted)
Cancelled at Vancouver, June 22, 1964
2. Home Ports : Atlantic and Pacific Fleets
In the home ports of Halifax and Victoria, naval personnel made use of the Fleet Mail Office (FMO) for postal service.
Fleet Mail Office Halifax, February 16, 1959
Halifax FMO, November 28, 1962
HMCS Stadacona was the naval barracks post office at the Halifax naval base.
HMCS Stadacona to London, March 5, 1962
HMCS Stadacona to Southsea, England, February 7, 1965
15 cents air mail letter rate
HMCS Dockyard, Victoria
HMCS Dockyard, February 11, 1954
HMCS Naden was the naval barracks post office located at the Victoria naval base.
HNCS Naden to Millet, August 19, 1958
3 . Great Lakes
HMCS Patriot located in Hamilton was the Headquarters of the Commanding Officer Naval Divisions (COND), as well as the Great Lakes Training Centre.
Fleet Mail Office Hamilton was HMCS Patriot's post office.
FMO Hamilton, July 13, 1959
HMCS Patriot to Hay River, July 6, 1966
4. Naval Reserve Units
Canada’s Naval Reserve was created in 1923. Naval Reservists are individuals engaged in their civilian lives while pursuing a military career, serving on a part time basis.
In 1939, a Naval Division was established in Kingston, Ontario, and commissioned HMCS Cataraqui two years later.
HMCS Cataraqui , Kingston November 2, 1955
HMCS Hunter was first established as the Windsor Division, Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve on November 8, 1939. HMCS Hunter has been at its present location on Ouellette Street in Windsor since March 1944.
HMCS Hunter, Windsor May 31, 1956
4. Sea Cadets
The Cadet Program is the largest federally-sponsored youth program in Canada that includes the Royal Canadian Sea, Army and Air Cadets. It is a national program for young Canadians aged 12 to 18 who are interested in participating in a variety of fun, challenging and rewarding activities while learning about the sea, army and air activities of the Canadian Forces.
HMCS Quadra is a sea cadet summer training centre located on Goose Spit adjacent the town on Comox, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island. Goose Spit became a Sea Cadet Training Establishment in 1952 and was commissioned as HMCS Quadra in 1956, operating continuously since.
HMCS Quadra correspondence to Coeur D'Alene, mailed at the Comox post office, August 13, 1958
6. Souvenir Mail
a) Norfolk Naval Station, Norfolk, Virginia
When naval ships made port calls at the Norfolk Naval Station "Welcome to Norfolk" covers were produced by Tazewell G. Nicholson. An example of such a cover made when the HMCS Lauzon visited Norfolk in 1954 is shown below:
"Welcome to Norfolk" covers had three elements:
i) Visiting ship cachet
ii) Printed cachet
iii) U.S. Ship cancel
i) Visiting Ship cachet
Personnel from a visiting ship would be asked if envelopes could be stamped with the ship's cachet:
ii) Printed cachet
Cachets identifying the class of vessel or the name of the vessel and its mission were printed in the upper left hand corner of the envelope.
iii) US ship cancel
The covers were taken to a US naval vessel in port for cancellation and entry into the mail stream.
The HMCS Lauzon cover was brought to the USS Allen M. Sumner
Nicholson offered this service to collectors who sent stamped addressed envelopes along with a small fee for each cover serviced. Collectors never knew from which visiting ship they would receive covers. Welcome to Norfolk covers were produced into the 1980s.
The HMCS Prestonian (FFE 3o7) was a Prestonian-class ocean escort frigate that was converted from a River-class frigate placed in reserve following the end of WWII. Prestonian served as an anti-submarine ship until 1956.
HMCS Prestonian, Regulating Office handstamp, February 21, 1954
HMCS Iroquois was a World War II Tribal class destroyer. After the war the Iroquois was converted to an escort destroyer with the designation DDE 217 serving until 1962. A detailed history of Iroquois can be found at the Canadian Forces web site.
HMCS Iroquois, Commanding Officer handstamp, April 1956
February 29, 1960
HMCS Haida was a World War II Tribal class destroyer. Haida sank more enemy surface tonnage than any other Canadian warship. After the war, she was converted to a destroyer escort and recommissioned on 15 March 1952 with the designation DDE 215 and serving until 1963.
HMCS Haida, Ships Office handstamp, April 1956
HMCS Gatineau (DDE 236) was a Restigouche-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and later in the Canadian Forces from 1958 to 1974. Gatineau offered a 21 gun salute to President Dwight Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth on June 26, 1959 for the official opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
HMCS Gatineau, Commanding Officer handstamp, January 23, 1960
HMCS Kootenay (DDE 258) was a Restigouche-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and later in the Canadian Forces from 1959 to 1996
HMCS Kootenay, Officer of the Day handstamp, November 26, 1960
HMCS Columbia (DDE 260) was a Restigouche-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and later in the Canadian Forces from 1959 to 1974. Columbia was the seventh and final ship in her class and is the second Canadian naval unit to carry the name HMCS Columbia.
HMCS Columbia, Officer of the Day handstamp, November 26, 1960
HMCS Terra Nova
HMCS Terra Nova (DDE 259) was a Restigouche-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and late the Canadian Forces from 1959 to 1997.
HMCS Terra Nova, Regulating Office, November 25, 1960
HMCS Restigouche (DDE 257) was a Restigouche-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and later the Canadian Forces from 1958-1994.
HMCS Restigouche, Commanding Officer handstamp, February 11, 1961
HMCS Chaudiere (DDE 235) was a Restigouche-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and later the Canadian Forces from 1959-1974.
HMCS Chaudiere, Message Center handstamp, November 24, 1960
b) Souvenir Mail From British Ports
HMCS Bonaventure (CVL-22) was a Majestic-class aircraft carrier. She served in the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Forces Maritime Command from 1957 to 1970.
Visit of HMCS Bonaventure to Portsmouth, November 1963
HMCS Restigouche ship cachet # 39
Rochester-Chatham, Kent, England
c) Kiel Week Regatta ( Kiel Germany)
HMCS St. Croix
HMCS St. Croix (DDE 256) was a Restigouche-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and later in the Canadian Forces from 1958 to 1974.
HMCS St. Croix, June 30 1963
Visit to "Kiel Week" cachet
HMCS Gatineau, Commanding Officer handstamp, July 1, 1963
HMCS Columbia ship cachet #50, June 29, 1963
HMCS Kootenay ship cachet #46, June 30 1963