Navy brothers lean on each other through tough times

Navy News / March 17, 2021

By Ryan Melanson
Trident Staff

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Toronto’s Operation REASSURANCE deployment in 2020 was anything but routine.

The ship left Halifax in July, joining NATO allies in the Mediterranean under tight COVID-19 restrictions.

For Sailors 1st Class Anton and Triston Manson, brothers who are both posted to Toronto, the sail presented a number of challenges, with pre-deployment preparations complicated by the health restrictions and the extra stress of being overseas during a pandemic. Being in the unique position of having a close family member on board was a blessing.

“I got lucky this time. I had that little piece of home with me, so my brother and I were able to lean on each other,” said Triston.

“We don’t always see each other during the work day, but we’ll always eat together, and we hang out every day if we’re in port. We’re also good friends, which helps.”

It’s not the first time the pair has sailed as part of the same crew. They’ve been able to share many naval experiences with each other, and even prior to beginning their naval careers, the brothers followed similar paths. Both were standout hockey players at a young age, playing at different times at the Major Junior level for the Shawinigan Cataractes, and both had a taste of working odd jobs in the private sector before deciding on the Navy route.

They were inspired by their grandfather, a Royal Canadian Navy veteran, and their father, who encouraged them to consider military service.

“My job has become extremely important to me. I’m able to provide a good life for my family, it allows me to participate in sports, and I can show my children the importance of a strong work ethic and determination,” Anton said.

They’re in different trades, with Anton, the younger brother, working as a Naval Electronic Sensor Operator, and Triston as a Marine Technician, but both say the Navy has given them the best job they’ve ever had.

Being able to play hockey regularly has been a big perk, and aside from trips to national Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) tournaments and local sports awards, their hockey background has led to other notable moments. Anton’s very first Navy sail in 2016, a short trip to Bermuda with HMCS St. John’s, saw he and his brother lead their shipmates in an exhibition game against the Bermuda National Ball Hockey team. Not long after, and despite being a Montreal Canadiens fan, Anton was promoted to his current rank by Toronto Maple Leafs legend Wendell Clark while the team visited Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax.

Anton says the Navy life has allowed the game to remain a big part of their lives. They’re on the ice multiple times a week, each coach their children in minor hockey, and both will no doubt be suiting up for CFB Halifax again when CAF sports programs eventually make their full return after the pandemic.

Originally from the Halifax area and with plenty of family nearby, the brothers have been able to support each other on ship while knowing support exists at home for their young families – Anton is a father of four, while Triston is a father of two. This dynamic has allowed them to thrive, and the Mansons say we can expect to see them in uniform, as well as in their Navy hockey gear, for many years to come.