As many of you know, in addition to being teamsters, we love restoring classic horse-drawn equipment. And we’re also very proud of our western heritage, are supporters of our military and hold simple, old-fashioned values.
So, in 2019, when we were approached by a few members of the HMCS Calgary crew about restoring the ship’s chuckwagon, we were instantly intrigued. Where did the chuckwagon come from? What was it being used for? And where the heck do you store it on a ship?
And as soon as we had more details about what the project would involve, we quickly gave a “Hell Yeah”!
We’d like to invite you to join in on our journey of restoring the beloved HMCS Calgary chuckwagon… Over the next few posts, we’ll be sharing some pictures, tales of our progress and a bit of information about the ship and crew themselves.
Part I: Checking Out The Chuckwagon From HMCS Calgary
HMCS Calgary, the Halifax-class frigate, is a multi-role patrol frigate that has served the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) since 1995. The connection between the City of Calgary and HMCS Calgary has remained one of the strongest of all the “City-Class” frigates, with the crew of the Calgary attending the Calgary Stampede when they’re able (i.e. not on deployment). We proudly provide white hats (which is a time-honoured symbol of the City of Calgary) to wear, as part of their official uniform while they serve on HMCS Calgary.
When “The Calgary” was commissioned into the RCN, the local Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps (RCSCC) and the Bow Valley Branch of the Navy League of Canada, gifted the crew with its own chuckwagon for ceremonial use. Brought out for community parades and Change of Command ceremonies, the chuckwagon is a powerful reminder of the connection between the ship and The City.
But, as you can imagine, years of use and damp storage at CFB Esquimalt (they do store it on land, not on the ship itself) has taken a toll on the wood of the chuckwagon. During the 2019 Calgary Stampede, conversations began about the possibility (and the cost) of restoring the chuckwagon to its original glory.
In October, 2019, we went to CFB Esquimalt to assess the condition of the chuckwagon (and we were treated to a rare day sail for the crew’s family and friends).
With a better idea of what we were dealing with, we went home (smiling from ear to ear from the amazing sail) and began to plan how we could restore the chuckwagon so it could continue its important tradition of serving as a symbol of our city.