Where the Bells Are
Just where and when the first bell made the transition from land to sea remains hidden in the fog of history.
However, we do have documentary evidence from the accounts and inventories of William Soper, Keeper of the King's Ships, 1422-1427, that at least one English royal vessel, the Rodcogge de la Tour, had a brass bell "to mark the watches of the sailors". The Rodcogge, originally a prize vessel, was taken into Henry VI's Royal Squadron in June 1414 and it seems reasonable to assume that a brass bell was part of her inventory at that early date.
Where the Bells Are
Royal Canadian Navy ships' and ceremonial bells are scattered far and wide across Canada, in all kinds of interesting - and at times unlikely - locations.
In a separate project on the museum website, we're documenting naval christening bells that are in the museum collection here at Esquimalt or in other collections throughout Canada - http://www.navalandmilitarymuseum.org/archives/projects/christening-bells-project.
The goal of the 'Where the Bells Are' project is to pinpoint the specific whereabouts of individual RCN bells that are NOT christening bells, but have important connections to RCN history.
If you know of a naval bell in a local city hall or municipal office, Royal Canadian Legion branch, museum, cadet organization, or even in private hands, we would truly appreciate the information. These bells matter to the Royal Canadian Navy, and by tracking their locations, we hope to add to the store of knowledge about the navy's history.
Bells so far located are:
HMCS MIRAMICHI (I), dated 1941
This bells hangs in the sanctuary of St. Peter's Anglican Church, Birch Cove, Halifax, Nova Scotia. The bell is rung during the roll call at the church's November 11th service. The bell is dedicated -
"TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF THOSE MEMBERS OF THE CANADIAN NAVY WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM.
DEDICATED ON THE OCCASION OF THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NAVAL SERVICE OF CANADA", 1985.
HMCS PRINCE ROBERT
This bell from the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMCS PRINCE ROBERT is in the care of the Maritime Heritage Centre at Campbell River, BC.
HMCS MONCTON (I)
The bell from this Flower-class corvette is in the care of the Resurgo Museum in Moncton, BC, the ship's namesake community, by courtesy of the Department of National Defence.
No photo available.
The following information on other bell locations is courtesy of Terry Honour:
|Ship's Bell Name||Ship's Bell Location|
|ASBESTOS, HMCS||ASBESTOS, QUEBEC - 185 KING ST.|
|BONAVENTURE, HMCS||SHEARWATER, NOVA SCOTIA - AVIATION MUSEUM|
|BOWMANVILLE, HMCS||BOWMANVILLE, ONTARIO - ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION, 109 KING ST. E.|
|CALGARY, HMCS||CALGARY, ALBERTA - THE MILITARY MUSEUMS, 40 CROWCHILD TRAIL|
|CARL PLACE, HMCS||CARLETON PLACE, ONTARIO - TOWN HALL, BRIDGE ST. & MILL ST.|
|COBALT, HMCS||COBALT, ONTARIO - BUNKER MILITARY MUSEUM, PROSPECT AVE. & SILVER ST.|
|FUNDY, HMCS (J88)||HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA - MARITIME MUSEUM OF THE ATLANTIC (NOTE: This bell is from the FUNDY class minesweeper commissioned in 1938)|
|GRIFFON, HMCS||THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO - HMCS GRIFFON NAVAL RESERVE DIVISION, 125 ALGOMA ST. N.|
|HAWKESBURY, HMCS||HAWKESBURY, ONTARIO - ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION, 152 NELSON ST. E.|
|INCH ARRAN, HMCS||OTTAWA, ONTARIO - CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM, 1 VIMY PLACE|
|JAMES BAY, HMCS||PETERBOROUGH, ONTARIO - RCN ASSOCIATION, 24 WHITLAW ST.|
|MULGRAVE, HMCS||MULGRAVE, NOVA SCOTIA - MULGRAVE MEMORIAL EDUCATION CENTRE|
|NORTH BAY, HMCS||NORTH BAY, ONTARIO - ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION, 150 FIRST AVE. W.|
|PETERBOROUGH, HMCS||PETERBOROUGH, ONTARIO - MEMORIAL CENTRE AT LANSDOWNE ST. & LOCK ST.|
|POUNDMAKER, HMCS||NORTH BATTLEFORD, SASKATCHEWAN - ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION, 1352 100th ST.|
|ROCKCLIFFE, HMCS||OTTAWA, ONTARIO - VILLAGE OF ROCKCLIFFE PARK, AT 380 SPRINGFIELD RD.|
|ROYAL ROADS, HMCS||KINGSTON, ONTARIO - ROYAL MILITARY COLLEGE, PROTESTANT CHAPEL|
|RUNNYMEDE, HMCS||TORONTO, ONTARIO - RUNNYMEDE COLLEGIATE INSTITUTE, 569 JANE ST.|
|SMITHS FALLS, HMCS||SMITHS FALLS, ONTARIO - ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION, 7 MAIN STREET E.|
|SHEDIAC, HMCS||SHEDIAC, NEW BRUNSWICK - ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION, 386 MAIN ST.|
|ST. THOMAS, HMCS||ST THOMAS, ONTARIO - ELGIN COUNTY MILITARY MUSEUM|
|SWIFT CURRENT, HMCS||SWIFT CURRENT, SASKATCHEWAN - ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION, 239 1st AVE. NE|
|WHITBY, HMCS||WHITBY, ONTARIO - ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION, 117 BYRON ST. S.|