Sub­mariners Visit HMCS Ojibwa

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Port Burwell, On­tario was full of sub­mariners last Au­gust as mem­bers of the Sub­mariners As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada came from all over to at­tend their An­nual Meet­ing and BBQ. The week­end started Fri­day evening with a “Meet and Greet" at Schooners Gal­ley Restau­rant over­look­ing the sub­ma­rine that most of them had crewed. For many, it was their first op­por­tu­nity to see Ojibwa since she was res­cued from a date with the scrap yard.

“I’ve waited for this for a long time”, said Fred Schatz, who was on Ojibwa in the late six­ties and early sev­en­ties. “It means a lot to see her re­stored. She is an im­por­tant part of Cana­dian his­tory.”

On Satur­day, the doc­u­men­tary Project Ojibwa: Sav­ing a Cold War War­rior was screened for them by the El­gin Mil­i­tary Mu­seum. The doc­u­men­tary is the first of two be­ing pro­duced by East­link TV to tell the story of the his­tory, move and restora­tion of HMCS Ojibwa and her tran­si­tion into the Mu­seum of Naval His­tory. Ojibwa opened for pub­lic tours on the July 1st week­end.

Per­haps the high­light of the week­end came when close to 50 sub­mariners crowded into the for­ward tor­pedo bay for the of­fi­cial photo. “I jumped onto my old bunk as soon as I got aboard,” re­lated Shawn Preston. “It wasn’t quite as com­fort­able as it used to be!” Visi­tors to Ojibwa are sur­prised to learn that the bunks lo­cated on top of and be­tween the tor­pe­does were among the most cov­eted on the boat; ac­cord­ing to Preston, they are the only bunks where you can stretch out your legs.

He went on to lead four pub­lic groups for spe­cial tours through the eyes of a sub­mariner. He was proud to point out Preston, the man­nequin who sits at the helm wear­ing his old “Poopy suit”. “I get a kick out of it ev­ery time I see Preston at the helm”, he said.

In the evening, the Mu­seum turned Ojibwa over to the as­so­ci­a­tion so the sub­mariners could nose around their old home and show it off to fam­i­lies. “The sto­ries just kept flow­ing”, re­ported Cather­ine Raven, Web­mas­ter for the El­gin Mil­i­tary Mu­seum. “The sto­ries are in­cred­i­ble. We had no idea of what our sub­ma­rine ser­vice was do­ing or of how dan­ger­ous it was. The Mu­seum will be col­lect­ing all the sto­ries we can to help Cana­di­ans un­der­stand the ma­jor role played by the Cana­dian sub­ma­rine ser­vice, and just how per­ilous the Cold War re­ally was.”

The hour-long tours can be pre-booked by call­ing the El­gin Mil­i­tary Mu­seum at (519) 633-7641. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit the web site at www.pro­jec­to­jibwa.ca.

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