HMCS Protector

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For the Royal Canadian Navy auxiliary oil replenishment ship, see HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509). For other Commonwealth ships similarly named, see HMS Protector.
HMCS Protector
Part of The Royal Canadian Navy
Sydney Harbour
HMCS Protector 1943.jpg
A view, facing east, of HMCS Protector, and Sydney Harbour, and the Dominion Steel and Coal Company's Sydney Steel Plant in 1943. Merchant vessels can be seen in the harbour before departure on an Atlantic convoy.
HMCS Protector is located in Nova Scotia
HMCS Protector
HMCS Protector
Coordinates 46.15500, -60.22050 Coordinates: 46°9′18″N 60°13′14″W / 46.15500°N 60.22056°W / 46.15500; -60.22056
Type Naval base
Site information
Owner Government of Canada
Controlled by Royal Canadian Navy
Site history
Built 1943 (1943)
Built by Dominion Construction Corporation Limited of Toronto
In use 1943—1964
Demolished 1982
Battles/wars Battle of the St. Lawrence, Battle of the Atlantic
Events Sinking of SS Caribou, Cold War

Royal Canadian Navy base HMCS Protector, also known as the Point Edward Naval Base, was located next to Sydney Harbour, on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island.[1] It was founded in 1940 and used by the navy during the Second World War. It was mainly used to provision, protect and repair the various merchant marine convoys to Quebec, Halifax, and the United Kingdom. It was a main combat zone during the Battle of the St. Lawrence and the more general Battle of the Atlantic. It continued to be utilized during the Cold War's early stages. It was decommissioned in 1964 and became the initial facility to house the Canadian Coast Guard College that same year. Currently, the Sydport Industrial Park utilizes the base's former piers and land.

World War Two: 1939—1945[edit]

During the months prior to the Second World War being declared in 1939, the RCMP Patrol Vessel Protector was stationed at Sydney for various policing duties. On 28 August 1939 the Royal Canadian Navy established a small shore facility on the Sydney waterfront. On 22 July 1940, this facility was commissioned as HMCS Protector, taking its name from Patrol Vessel Protector. At the time, navy regulations stated that a naval shore base's designation must use a seaborne ship's name.

HMCS Protector saw intensive use during the war, as Sydney Harbour became the assembly port for the SC (Slow Convoy) series Atlantic convoys, as well as convoys to other major ports in Canada, namely Halifax (SH) and Quebec (SQ).[2] Other convoys that were marshalled by Protector were Sydney-Corner Brook (SB), Sydney-Port aux Basque (SPAB) and Sydney-Greenland (SG).[2] It was the base for the warships that escorted the SC convoys in the western Atlantic.[3] Protector was the focal point for the extensive Sydney Harbour defences that were established to protect against German U-boat attack.[4]

HMCS Protector was initially stationed on the Sydney waterfront and used commercial wharves and buildings along Esplanade Street, where the present armouries and marine terminal are located.[5] On 15 March 1943, a new custom-built shore facility and extensive piers was opened at Point Edward on the opposite western shore of the harbour, and was named HMCS Protector II, while the original was then renamed HMCS Protector I.[6] A Canadian National Railways line linked this new base to the mainline to Point Tupper.[7] Numerous convoy supply ships and warships were loaded and serviced at Protector by ship chandlers such as Sydney Ship Supply;[8] at the same time, the navy maintained use of the commercial facilities on the eastern shore in Sydney proper.[5] The base specialised in repair and fitting.

Post-war era: 1945 to the present[edit]

Sydney Harbour in 2008, aerial view showing where HMSC Protector would have been located. On the right-side, the red-vessel is docked to the government wharves that were used in WWII as HMSC Protector I. On the left-side, the Point Edward Sydport piers, where HMSC Projector II was located, are visible about mid-way in the upper third of the picture.

After the war's end, the navy stopped using the commercial facilities on the Sydney waterfront (eastern side of the harbour). It continued to use HMCS Protector at Point Edward, on the western side of the harbour.[1] During the 1950s, the base was renovated and it became Sydney's second largest employer, after the Dominion Steel and Coal Company's steel plant, with about 650 personnel stationed there.[9] The Progressive Conservative Diefenbaker government tried to close it in 1958, but it was deemed useful by NATO allies during the early stages of the Cold War.[9] It was finally decommissioned in 1964. In 1965, following the base's closure, the Canadian Coast Guard College was located in some of the unused navy facilities, and used the base's jetties.[10] The college continued to use these facilities throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, until a custom-built campus opened on an adjacent property in Edwardsville in 1981.[10] The former navy base is now used as an industrial park called Sydport.[11]


  1. ^ a b Milner (2010): "A quote verifying the information including a photo of the base from 1943 can be seen in the photo section in the online Google book version."
  2. ^ a b Sarty (2012), pp. 94—95.
  3. ^ Tennyson & Sarty (2000), p. 232.
  4. ^ Tennyson & Sarty (2000), pp. 238—244.
  5. ^ a b Tennyson & Sarty (2000), pp. 231—232.
  6. ^ Tennyson & Sarty (2000), p. 290.
  7. ^ MacDonald (2012), p. 160—161.
  8. ^ Caplan (1976), pp. 27—28.
  9. ^ a b Morgan (2009), p. 139.
  10. ^ a b CCG (2012).
  11. ^ Sydney Ports Corp. (2013).