Legacy and Transformation
The legacy of World War II characterized the Reserve well into the 1970s. The science of convoy organization even became one of the Canadian Naval Reserve’s specific areas of expertise, recognized as such by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
The 1980s were truly a time of transformation. The Naval Presence in Quebec project, the goal of which was to increase the number of francophones in the Canadian Navy, brought on the formation of four new Divisions in the province, each named after a naval hero of New France: Jolliet, Champlain, d’Iberville and Radisson.
At the same time, women were increasing their own part in “manning” the crews. Formerly employed mainly in administration, or in the medical service, women were now seen to be officers of the watch at sea, and to fill operational positions.
The Porte-class ships, named after the gates of the French fortifications of Québec and Louisbourg, were the first in the Royal Canadian Navy to be converted to accommodate women.
“One retired Naval Reserve captain recalls a particularly memorable milestone when skippering a gate vessel in 1978–79. Outbound from Esquimalt late one night, he made his night rounds after having cleared harbour. To his surprise, he found the engine room ‘manned’ completely by women.—Ian Holloway, The Quest for Relevance, 1968–90, in “Citizen Sailors: Chronicles of Canada’s Naval Reserve 1910–2010, ed. Richard H. Gimblett and Michael L. Hadley, p. 103.
In 1989, all military occupations were at long last opened to women, except that of submariner, which finally followed suit in 2001.
Female Reservists from HMCS Griffon. Canadian Forces Fleet School Fonds, Naval Museum of Québec Collection
A Reservist aboard a ship. Canadian Forces Fleet School Fonds, Naval Museum of Québec Collection