HMCS Oriole Delights Children and Adults With Tours of This Historic Navy Ship Docked In Windsor

(All ships in the Canadian Navy have their own badge. The HMCS Oriole’s is located on deck near the bow as shown here while the ship was docked in Windsor, Ontario, at Dieppe Park on July 28, 2018. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)

Saturday was a good day for sea leg testing on the quietly shifting hardwood deck of the double masted HMCS Oriole docked on Windsor’s riverfront. In town to pick up a crew of Sea Cadets for training, the ship was opened to the public who gladly boarded for a free tour. Many brought their children who took turns at the ship’s wheel, most likely, from what they told their parents. imagining commanding the ship on the high seas.

The HMCS Oriole docked in Oakville, Ontario.

The HMCS Oriole docked in Oakville, Ontario. Photo credit Lt (N) Sean Costello, Canadian Armed Forces.

Not only did the visitors get to test their ability to walk on its curved deck but also to see first-hand one of the most advanced sailing ships of all the seas, at least when she was launched in 1921.

At that time she was the proud flagship of Toronto’s Royal Canadian Yacht Club. In 1952, she joined the Canadian Navy, serving on the west coast until a transfer last year brought her to Halifax, her current home port.

Improvements over previous ship equipment are most notable on her masts. There are no Jacob’s rope ladders. Sailors can pull up the sails without having to climb the mast.

Which also means the ship is without a “crows nest.” In earlier vessels, the nest was used as a lookout.

HMCS Oriole's common area.

A common area in the HMCS Oriole ship’s cabin is quite roomy. Sleeping quarters are in the aft, which also includes a galley kitchen, and the front end, or bow, compartments. Photo taken during it’s stop in Windsor, Ontario, on July 28, 2018. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Ship Executive Officer and First Mate, Joshua Stansbury, a 15 year Navy veteran, says his ship is a prime example of “handraulic,” technology. Every operation done during sailing is executed by hand.

It is an ideal way for the Cadets to not only learn the ropes of sailing but also to work as a team.

Although the deck seems continually moving, on an exclusive trip below, Eyes On Windsor found things were a bit less bouncy in the cabin. There the ship’s ten member complement live, work and sleep. But, with the Cadets on board, the crew mushrooms to over 20 hands.

Sailing such a ship is not always smooth. When tacking – changing course – the ship will zigzag at a rakish angle. Countering the effect of the variance, the table in the ship’s cabin is specially designed to maintain a horizontal position regardless of the angle of the ship.

Lieutenant Sean Costello prepares the HMCS Oriole cabin’s table for sea travel.

Lieutenant Sean Costello prepares the HMCS Oriole cabin’s table for sea travel while the ship was docked in Windsor, Ontario, on July 28, 2018. The table is designed to stay horizontal at all times. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Local residents will have one more day to tour the ship, from 10am to 6pm Sunday. It is docked at Dieppe Park downtown on the riverfront.

Windsor is the ship’s farthest inland port on its summer tour of duty. From here it will travel to events in Port Colborne and Whitby.

Robert Tuomi
Article by Robert Tuomi

For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.