First Encounters

An interesting addition to the museum archives is a manuscript donated by Mr. Ken King of Victoria.

The manuscript, entitled My Old Packing Case, was written by his late uncle, Warrant Officer C. Walter King, an officer with the Royal Navy who served in HMCS RAINBOW during the formative years of the Canadian Navy. WO King recounts his experiences on the West Coast of Canada, tells of his encounters with the locals, and recalls the 'string of dinners and other social functions' that awaited he and his shipmates in honour of their arrival as the first unit of the Canadian Navy on the Pacific coast.Warrant Officer C. Walter King.

RAINBOW travelled to Esquimalt by way of the Straits of Magellan - the Horn - (the Panama Canal wasn't in operation yet), arriving November 7, 1910. The following is an account of WO King's arrival in Esquimalt harbour after a journey of 15,400 miles, and his first glimpse of "this pretty little bay...." :

The entrance to Esquimalt harbour is very narrow, having a lighthouse on a rock almost in the centre. The harbour is irregular in shape, but what struck us most were the beautiful fir and pine trees growing almost down to the high water mark.


The coast was chiefly rocks. On the starboard hand on entering, we saw the dockyard boat-slip and sheds, and the basin with landing steps for boats, and small cranes. Next came the dry dock, owned and worked by the Provincial government of British Columbia, where all ships on this station were docked for repairs. Then came a jetty with coaling sheds, the town landing wharves, the ordnance depot and pier, then a long stretch of low land forming one boundary of the naval recreation ground with its various buildings, then the hospital and except for a small magazine, the remainder of the coast was irregular rocks. On landing at the dock yard, one was immediately struck with the pretty layout, for even here were fine trees between the buildings, unlike any dockyard at home.


[Upon her arrival, RAINBOW fired a 21-gun salute to honour Canada. Two sloops of the Royal Navy, Algerine and Shearwater, were also there for the occasion, "dressed overall" with flags as a signal of welcome. Among the Canadians present to welcome the ship were Lieut.-Governor T.W. Paterson, Senator the Hon. William Templeman, the Premier the Hon. Richard McBride, and Mayor A.J. Morley].


After anchoring, we were boarded by quite a large crowd of Canadian officials. First came the Premier, Dick McBride... He was accompanied by the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, the Mayor of Victoria, Members of Parliament and many others. Many speeches were made by these, and had to be replied to by our captain, and I think we were all glad when the end of this reception arrived...

Here's an extract from his manuscript, for an account of Warrant Officer King's experiences on the west coast of Canada.


                                                        By Clare Sharpe, Museum staff member/webmaster