For Posterity's Sake
A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project
Former RCNVR Half Company Saskatoon
Naval Reserve Unit
HMCS Unicorn is a naval reserve division of the Royal Canadian Navy based in Saskatoon, SK. The unit was established on 27 April 1923 as the Saskatoon Half-Company under the command of First World War veteran Lieutenant John McEown. The half-company was first quartered in the local armoury, moving to the Old Legion Hall at the corner of 21st Street and 1st Avenue in 1930. In 1934, the burgeoning ship's company moved again, this time a block north to 25th Street to a former car dealership and garage. On 01 Nov 1941, Naval Reserve Division, Saskatoon, SK, was commissioned as a tender to HMCS Naden. On 01 Sep 1942, she was commissioned as an independent unit, HMCS Unicorn. The ship moved to its present location in 1943, when a purpose-built brown brick building with white trim became Saskatoon's stone frigate at the corner of 4th Avenue and 24th Street, across from City Hall. The ship's company played an active part in the life of Saskatoon and the surrounding communities, fielding sports teams, hosting public events and even helping with harvest. During the Second World War, Unicorn became a focal point for the Royal Canadian Navy's wartime efforts in Saskatoon, becoming a naval recruiting centre. 3,573 officers and non-commissioned members enlisted and received their initial training on board. Unicorn continues to play a prominent role in Saskatoon. Members of the ship's company have served with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia, Namibia and southwest Africa, Cyprus, the Golan Heights, Germany, Great Britain, France, Holland, the United Stats, in the Gulf War, and in every Canadian province. Both in 1950 and 1997, members of Unicorn volunteered to assist with efforts to cope with the flooding of Manitoba's Red River. Closer to home, Unicorn helped deal with flooding in the South Saskatchewan River valley and have aided local protective services in operations on the river. The unit has provided safety boats to community boating events, with the ship's nine-pounder gun often used to start the final races. Members of the ship's company have even spent weekends in a life raft tethered to one of Saskatoon's bridges to raise money for local crisis shelters.