Submariners Visit HMCS Ojibwa
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.