Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Roger Sarty

Advisor Role




This dissertation examines the proceedings of the Mainguy Commission, which was established in 1949 to investigate and report on a series of three “incidents” of collective disobedience which had taken place aboard Canadian warships in the early months of that year. The “incidents” were the culmination of a series of challenges that the senior staff was already endeavouring to address internally. Media and political attention to the indiscipline, however, brought the minister to insist that there be a public enquiry.

Historians who have examined the report of the Mainguy Commission have generally accepted that in calling for the Canadianization of the RCN it represents a break between the RCN and its British traditions. As this thesis demonstrates, the idea that there was a groundswell of nationalist sentiment in the RCN, and particularly on the lower deck, that required a break with Britain is incorrect. In fact the RCN had been attempting to address morale issues for at least the two years prior to the “incidents” and had a very good idea of the issues that had to be dealt with.

This dissertation compares the transcripts of the hearings of the Mainguy Commission and the report that it produced. It will argue that the transcripts in fact do not reveal any particular concern on the part of RCN personnel that the navy was insufficiently Canadian. The issues facing the RCN, as disclosed in the transcripts, were related to the failure of the government to spend the money required to ensure a happy and effective fleet. In focusing on the issue of the Canadianization of the RCN, it will be argued, the government was attempting to draw attention away from the real issues facing the RCN and to exert control over the naval staff.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season