Tane Renata Casserley
CGS CANADA: A CANADIAN WARSHIP IN THE FLORIDA KEYS.
(Under the direction of Professor Timothy Runyan) Department of History, Program in Maritime Studies, January 2005.
The purpose of this thesis is to document a shipwreck lost within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and through historical and archaeological analysis illustrate that this vessel is the CGS (Canadian Government Ship) Canada, one of the most influential ships in Canadian history. Built in 1904, the cruiser CGS Canada became the first armed, steel-hulled capital ship owned and operated by the Canadian government. This study attempts to fully understand the significance of this Canadian "first," through an exploration of the mix of political and economic factors that led to the ship's construction. These factors include the contentious debate between the governments of Canada and Britain over naval defense, the growing naval threat from Europe at the dawn of the twentieth-century, and the increasing competition over fisheries resources in the North Atlantic.
This study examines the success of the ship both in design and function. It chronicles Canada's role in both the Fisheries Protection Fleet and as the nucleus of the Royal Canadian Navy. It was the fastest and best-armed ship in the country's Fisheries Protection Fleet and later became an ideal choice for training naval cadets before the creation of the Royal Canadian Navy in 1910. In that role, Canada became the first Canadian warship to be invited to train with the British Royal Navy.
Also included in this study is the life of the Canada after its service in the Canadian Navy. In 1924, Barron Gift Collier, a wealthy Florida landowner and advertising magnate, purchased the ship and renamed it Queen of Nassau. The ship was converted into a first-class passenger steamer and put into service as an inter-island cruise ship for the lucrative Nassau-Miami route. This study examines the ship's failure in that endeavor and investigates questions surrounding its subsequent sinking on July 2, 1926.
In 2001, divers discovered an unknown shipwreck in 230 feet of water within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Funded by NOAA, a team of scientific divers led by NOAA archaeologist Tane Casserley has since conducted three archaeological surveys to the site and concluded with a high degree of probability that the shipwreck in question is the CGS Canada.