One of the longest-serving of the Canadian Government ships which regularly used Charlottetown as its home was the Brant. This was the second of its name, the first being noted in an earlier posting.
The Brant was a buoy and lighthouse tender. Built in 1927 at the Canadian Government Shipyard in Sorel QC her design was based on the a number of steam trawlers built for the Canadian navy ten years earlier. The ship was 125 feet long with a beam of 23 feet and depth of 12 feet. Commissioned in 1928 the coal-burning Brant replaced an earlier wooden ship of the same name. For most of the 1930s and 1940s the ship operated from the Charlottetown Marine Wharf and even after being transferred to the Dartmouth agency it was a frequent visitor to P.E.I. ports. At the time of her decommissioning in 1966 she was the last coal-burning vessel in the Coast Guard fleet.
Thanks to Tony Lidstone for sending the two 1944 photos above which include his father who was a member of the crew.
In the late 1930s the Brant played a useful role in the yacht racing competitions of the Yacht Racing Association of Northumberland Strait (YRANS), probably through the close working relationships between the naval personnel in Charlottetown, local politicians and those interested in yachting such as Commodore Morris of the Charlottetown Yacht Club. In 1938, for example, the Brant, under command of its long-term Capt. Kelly, accompanied the fleet of a dozen yachts sailing from Summerside to the Shediac regatta. The Guardian noted that the ladies of the Shediac party were all on board the Brant. The following year the Brant towed some of the yachts of the fleet, including the boat of the Charlottetown Sea Scouts led by K.M. Martin. In addition three class 3 boats and four snipes were carried on board the Brant.
At the first post-war YRANS regatta held in Charlottetown in 1947 the Brant once again played an important role as it carried 10 or 12 boats from Shediac to the Charlottetown races.
Today it is hard to imagine the Coast Guard providing the same level of cooperation to assist local yachting activities. At the same time the degree of inter-club competition has changed considerably. It has been a long time since any sailboats have been towed up the Strait and the degree of interest in small boat sailing which was so strong with the large snipe class in Northumberland Strait had diminished with the development of laser competition in the region.
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I sailed, with Building Material on the Brant to Bird Rock with directions to demolish the old Break Water , install a New one and refurbish the existing Wharf..There were few days when the sea was calm but we finished in the time frame and Sailed on to Grand Entry Island to physically move a huge building for the Lighthouse keeper…A little over a month were were back in Charlottetown celebration Old Home Week….1952 was the year a short time later there was a whole portion of the area above the new structures that collapsed ..THe history of Bird Rock is a very colorful story of stout men, and their Wives living and dying on that “Rock” I met some and was truly amazed….Joseph Somers
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