On June 3 2012, my son Alex and I traveled to Iroquois Lock on the St. Lawrence River west of Cornwall to witness a historic occasion. The retired Cold War submarine HMCS OJIBWA was being moved from Halifax through the St. Lawrence Seaway.
HMCSubmarie OJIBWA began her career as the Royal Navy’s Oberon class, HMS ONYX. Taken over by the RCN during her construction she was renamed OJIBWA and commissioned on 23 September 1965.
OJIBWA had a very successful carer in the Canadian Navy, her duties ranging from training submariners, providing an operational target for the surface ships to practice anti-submarine warfare and clandestine operations during the Cold War. Almost her entire career was spent under the waters of the Atlantic, attached to MARLANT, with the exception of a short assignment to the Pacific fleet.
With the acquisition of four new Upholder class submarines, OJIBWA was declared surplus and decommissioned in May 1998. She remained in Halifax waiting for disposal.
In 2010 The Elgin Military Museum announced they had acquired OJIBWA and would be moving the submarine to Port Burwell on Lake Erie, as a Cold War Museum. That is a voyage of over 1200 nautical miles.
Heddle Marine of Hamilton designed and built a submersible drydock, specifically for the project. OJIBWA would ride from Halifax into the Atlantic Ocean, to the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the St. Lawrence River and the Seaway into Lake Ontario to her temporary home in Hamilton. Nadro Marine provided two tugs for the operation, Florence M and Lac Manitoba.
OJIBWA’s journey began on 23 May 2012 with the arrival of the drydock in Halifax. Secured and fastened to the drydock, towing operations began. Along the entire route, many Canadians came to witness and pay respect to this Cold War Canadian sub.
On 5 June OJIBWA arrived in Hamilton where she would spend the summer undergoing her final refit. Turning the submarine into and accessible museum. OJIBWA’s final journey took place in November 2012 when she was moved from Hamilton, through the Welland Canal to Lake Erie and her final resting place, high and dry on shores of Port Burwell.
OJIBWA is open for tours and has become one of the “Must See” attractions in the area.
More details on Project OJIBWA and the Elgin Military Museum can be found on their website. Please take a look.