The Elgin Military Museum is proud of having met the challenge
of incredible hurdles to preserve and operate HMCS OJIBWA, a cold
war Oberon Class submarine, as part of a Museum - reflecting our
naval heritage for the benefit of future generations. Now, along
with the restoration of the submarine, a new branch of the Elgin
Military Museum, the Museum of Naval History is in the works.
With luck, it will open in 2014, the one hundredth anniversary of
the Canadian Submarine Service.
HMCS OJIBWA was the first submarine built expressly for the
Royal Canadian Navy (although there were submarines in the Canadian
navy since the Great War). The process took longer than expected;
however, we are now the proud owner of this former cold
|HMCS OJIBWA at
her decommissioning ceremony in the late 1990s.
Moving a submarine from Halifax on the Atlantic Ocean to Port
Burwell in southwestern Ontario was a tremendous challenge but one
we willingly accepted.
OJIBWA began her journey in late May of 2012 and spent the
summer and early fall in Hamilton, at the west end of Lake Ontario.
There the heavy duty modifications to attach temporary steel
supports were added by the professionals at the shipyard of Heddle
Marine. These supports were required for the SPMTs (modular units)
which transferred the submarine from the barge to the position
where she rests on land 1500 metres away.
|Ojibwa, towed by
the Florence and nudged along by the Lac Manitoba pass Brockville,
Ontario on the St. Lawrence River.
Photo: David Beamish
Few if any boats have raised as much interest as Ojibwa,
shepherded by McKeil tugs the Lac Manitoba and
Seahound, as they made their way through the Welland Canal
on November 18th. Thousands of proud Canadians turned out to see
her. Then everyone held their breath and prayed for a calm, wind
free day for the transit from Port Colborne at the Lake Erie end of
the Canal around Long Point to Port Burwell. When the little
village woke on the morning of November 20th Ojibwa was waiting in
the mist just outside the harbour.
Manoeuvering something so long and so tall from a barge on to
land was the next hurdle met with the help of one of the worlds
largest heavy lifting companies Mammoet. Ojibwa is now resting
comfortably on her cradles awaiting visitors during the summer of
gingerly moved from the barge to the land. For every inch she moved
off the barge water had to be pumped on to the barge to keep it
level. The task was performed by world leader in heavy moving
Mammoet. Photo: EMM
There are still funds to be raised to build out the project over
the next few years; but with a steady hand on the helm and a lot of
hard work, we are confident of success. We are grateful to have the
support of so many Canadians across the country and individuals
from around the world. Click here to download our Museum of
Naval History Backgrounder or Click here to download our
How did it Happen!
How and perhaps more to the point, why did The Elgin Military
Museum located in St. Thomas, a small, land-locked city in rural
Elgin County in south western Ontario, come to acquire a submarine
- the two hundred and ninety five foot long and five storeys high
Oberon Class submarine, HMCS Ojibwa? The answer is opportunity
knocked, the potential was analysed and the challenge was
It is more than a measured can do attitude that drives this
endeavour; it is the conviction that saving an important piece of
Canadian heritage from the wrecker's ball is worthwhile and if
doing so helps to regenerate the north shore of Lake Erie so much
the better. Because we firmly believe that is what it will
accomplish with an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 visitors annually.
We look to Project Ojibwa being a tremendous success which will
enable us to distribute a portion of the surplus accrued to
charitable organizations benefiting veterans and their families as
well as local museums and cultural organizations. (As a registered
charity, The Elgin Military Museum is a not-for-profit entity) We
can't do this on our own. You can help.