SAOC in torpedo room
Port Burwell was full of submariners this weekend 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
in Port Burwell 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 and since that time over 12,000 visitors have
taken the hour-long guided tours.
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,"
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 of HMCS Ojibwa begin daily at 9:00 am with the final tour of
the day starting at 8:00 pm. The Museum recommends people come between 9:00 and
11:00 am or after 4:00 in the afternoon to avoid significant waits. Tour times 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.