PHOTO: NOTMAN STUDIO, national Archives of canada--PA028499
Members of the Royal Naval College of Canada's class of 1912 practise rowing near Halifax.
By the time Canada was at war in August 1914, only tiny Rainbow, her crew augmented by volunteers, was able to respond. Indeed, she defended imperial interests in the eastern Pacific—from Chile to the Bering Sea. Her captain, Walter Hose, described these days as a “heart-breaking starvation time” for the Royal Canadian Navy. In the last two years before the war, more Canadians deserted from the service than joined.
George Desbarats, the deputy naval minister, sympathized with those who bolted from the “irksome and distasteful” life in ships alongside, and made no effort to bring the deserters back...