Life on the Mediterranean Station


Seymour Corning Crowell, a Yarmouth youth whose family lived at the top of Vancouver Street, was sixteen years old when he joined the Royal Naval College of Canada as a cadet in August 1917. The College was housed in a two storey brick building at the north end of the Royal Naval Dockyard, Halifax. On 6 December, while the cadets were preparing for inspection, the College was destroyed by the explosion of the munitions ship S.S. Mont-Blanc in Halifax Harbour. The College moved to temporary quarters at the Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario, for the remainder of the 1917–18 academic year; then it relocated to quarters at the Royal Naval Dockyard, Esquimalt, British Columbia. [1]

It was from Esquimalt that, on 24 June 1920, Seymour Crowell graduated from the Royal Naval College of Canada with a Third Class Certificate. He returned to Yarmouth to await an offer of employment on a warship of the British Royal Navy and, when that occurred, he began to compile an album of photographs [2] documenting his experiences in the Royal Navy. Below is a selection of his photographs.

References and Notes

    [1] G. William Hines, “The Royal Naval College of Canada, 1911–22” pp. 164–189 in Adrian W. Preston and Peter Dennis (eds.), Swords and Covenants. Taylor & Francis, 1976, 254 pp.

    [2] Album 92 (2000:6, YCMA) has 161 photographs. The holdings of the Yarmouth County Museum and Archives include Seymour Crowell’s journal for midshipmen (Y MS1 341 N1–N3, YCMA) and his dirk and telescope.

    [3] An essay, “Catastrophe at Smyrna,” is based on material from Seymour Crowell’s journal for midshipmen (Y MS1 341 N2, YCMA).

    [4] I thank Jamie Serran, Archivist at the Yarmouth County Museum and Archives, for providing access to archival material concerning Seymour Crowell. The Crowell family lived in the former residence of Captain Bowman Corning, of which the first photograph above (Album 3, p. 8, YCMA) dates from the 1890s. The second photo, entitled “Royal Naval College – ca. 1913, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada” is in the public domain in Canada and is available online. The third photo, entitled “Halifax Explosion Blast Cloud Restored” is in the public domain in Canada and is available online. Seymour Crowell’s Diploma of Graduation, shown in the fourth photo, is in the Archives (Y MS1 341, YCMA). I am grateful to Eric J. Ruff, Curator Emeritus, for allowing me to display his photograph of Mr. Crowell’s dirk and telescope.

William Day (1 September 2013)