HMCS Glace Bay Sailors Reuniting with the Community of Cape Breton

LINK - April 2017 / May 31, 2017

By LCdr Emily Lambert, HMCS Glace Bay

On 18 September 2016, friends, family and the community of Cape Breton gathered to celebrate a milestone in one of Sydney, Nova Scotia's prominent figures, Dr. Winnifred Chafe.

Mrs. Winnifred (Winnie) Chafe is Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Glace Bay's ships sponsor and turned 80 years old on 25 Dec 2016. Winnie is an icon in the community who has spent a life time playing her fiddle and bringing the wonderful sounds of music into the heart of the community. 18 September 2016 was the date chosen so that people from the community could attend to celebrate her lifetime achievements. Many persons were in attendance, including the Mayor (Mr. Cecil Clarke), family members and members from the RCN who have sailed onboard HMCS Glace Bay.

Mrs. Winnie Chafe was born in Cape Breton and was the first woman to become International Fiddling Champion in Pembroke, Ontario. Winnie is still a very active member and prominent figure in her community. She teaches classical and Cape Breton Scottish Fiddle Music and has lectured on the History of Celtic Fiddle Music. Winnie has also performed for royalty and received two honorary doctorates in recognition of her contribution to the legacy of Cape Breton's music. In fact, many of Winnie's fiddle students attended this momentous celebration. Winnie has spent many years playing music for all different types of audiences, but on the day of her 80th celebration it was her turn to enjoy wonderful music played by her students and friends.

Anyone who has had the chance to meet Winnie knows how actively involved she is with the ship, corresponding regularly with the crew and helping to plan Namesake City visits. Winnie's personality has made her a very warm, giving, vibrant, caring individual felt by many who have had the pleasure of meeting her and her daughter Pat Chafe and heard them play music together. Winnie has often seen herself as an honourary "mom" to the crew of HMCS Glace Bay. She always has a warm embrace for all the sailors onboard when the ship visited Sydney, NS and glows with pride when she talks about the ship and the crew.

HMCS Glace Bay had many success in the last few years, of particular note was in 2014 during Operation CARIBBE deployment, Glace Bay made a major drug seizure resulting in 97 bales of cocaine being taken off the street. Following their return home, the ship was awarded the Admirals Cup. The Admirals Cup is awarded each year to the ship that demonstrated the best overall efficiency, morale and leadership. This was the first time that an Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel has won the cup since its inception in 2004. HMCS Glace Bay recently conducted a Namesake City visit to Sydney, NS on October 2015 before the ship went into refit. HMCS Glace Bay is due to come out of refit and will be sailing again in early 2017.Anyone who has served onboard HMCS Glace Bay is proud of the ship and boasts about how supportive the community is of its sailors. From all the sailors who have sailed onboard Glace Bay, we just want to wish "mom" a very Happy Birthday.