Tuesday, 30 September 2014


Newly painted battleship grey, the Canadian Northern Steamship Royal George sailed down the St Lawrence to join the Canadian Contingent and its escorting warships harboured in the Gaspe Basin on September 30, 1914. There they anchored for two days while the full convoy assembled. 

Agar Adamson wrote to his wife Mabel, "After 27 days at Levis Camp we embarked on 27 September sleeping on board and training on shore during the day. By the 30th we sailed from Quebec arriving at Gaspe basin on the 1st October, joining the waiting fleet of 20 ships and on the 3rd, the fleet having grown to 31 transports filled with troops or horses we started off in three lines of 10 ships each with Eclipse, Diana, Charybdis, Glory and Talbot convoying us. These have been added to until now we have six more including the Lion, the largest battle Cruiser afloat."

There were a total of 36 transports carrying 32,000 men, 105 nursing sisters, and 34 chaplains, Adamson reported to Rodney in a letter accompanied by a neat diagram. "We will all start off at once, four abreast, with four men-of-war conveying us, one in front, one behind, and one on each side", although his optimistic description is in direct contrast to reports of chaos on those final days as the first troopships were being organized to go overseas. 

A sense of excitement and wonder filled the air and each new ship that arrived was met with great cheers from the men aboard the others. Sam Hughes, beaming with pride, scurried between ships in a tugboat conveying best wishes and delivering last minute information. The revenue cutter Canada sailed through the fleet, offering to take letters and post them in Halifax. Hundreds of letters were thrown overboard in response but many were carried off into the wind and left floating behind. Talbot Papineau made several pencil sketches of the ships and the river, and these survive among his papers.

PPCLI on board the Royal George