Prince Rupert Division RCNVR



Prince Rupert, British Columbia




Post War Facility


HMCS CHATHAM, a naval reserve division, was established at 51 McBride St. in Prince Rupert. This unit housed the jetties and buildings which housed the command post and offices of the NOIC Prince Rupert (Commander A.H. Reid), the Naval Officer in Chief. In September 1939 all Canadian seaports came under the authority of the RCN and Public Traffic Regulations came into effect. Accordingly, the NOIC of each port controlled all shipping and all ship movement within the harbour had to have his OK. The port war signal station (PWSS) was on East Kinahan Island on the Southern approaches to Prince Rupert. According to the Prince Rupert newspaper, at its peak, 1,500 sailors called HMCS CHATHAM home or sailed from its jetties. During WW II, HMCS CHATHAM was a full time naval division operating 24x7, even though it may have been commanded by a Cdr. RCNR (or RCNVR) – at least at the start. (Source: Jerry Proc's RCN Radio Communications Website)



HMCS CHATHAM (1st of name) / Tender to Shore Establishment


The Naval Officer In-Charge (NOIC) established in Prince Rupert, BC, in June 1940 was commissioned in 1942 as HMCS CHATHAM, named after the consort ship of HMS Discovery in which Captain George Vancouver, RN, explored the West Coast of North America in the 1790s. Although it occupied the former quarters of the local RCNVR half-company (see below), during the war CHATHAM was not considered to be a reserve division, and served instead as a routing centre for convoys and patrols along the northern British Columbia coast until paid off in August 1945.


Date commissioned: 1 April 1942  Date paid off: August 1945



HMCS CHATHAM (2nd of name) / Naval Reserve Division


The RCNVR half-company in Prince Rupert, BC, was established in 1923, but initial recruiting was slow and it was closed down in 1926. Re-commissioned in 1928, by 1931 the complement consisted of five officers and 75 ratings. When war was declared, the entire ship’s company engaged for active service. The unit was paid off in June 1940, and the quarters turned over to the Fisherman’s Reserve and in turn the local NOIC (see 1st of name above).


HMCS CHATHAM was re-commissioned formally as a peacetime Naval Reserve division on Trafalgar Day in 1946, in modern and far more spacious accommodation than the pre-war facilities. However, the unit was paid off as a cost-saving measure in 1964.


Date commissioned: 21 October 1946  Date paid off: 31 March 1964