The Venture Story

Niobe Boats Alongside The Royal Canadian Navy came into being as a result of the Naval Service Act of 1910. In the same year, the Royal Naval College of Canada was established in Halifax and a year later, it acquired the schooner Advocate, renamed HMCS Diana, and the sloop Venture as a sail and seamanship training tender. She was attached to HMCS Niobe in Halifax and was employed until 1917 when the Halifax explosion probably ended her career as it did the Diana. Many Canadian Flag Officers first learned the seaman's art in these vessels. No known photograph of this first Venture exists. However, perhaps she was one of these Niobe ship's boats.

Niobe Boat 1 Niobe Boat 2 Niobe Boat 3 Niobe Boat 4 Niobe Boat 4

The Second Canadian Venture

The second Venture, designed by W. J. Roue, was built at Meteghan on the Acadian shore of St. Mary's Bay in Nova Scotia. Her keel was laid on 4 January 1937, and she was launched on the 9th of June of the same year. This Venture was a traditional schooner built from the same table of offsets as the Bluenose although there were a few differences: Venture had three masts, not two, her keel was slightly longer, and she was built to draw less water to sail up the St. Lawrence into the Great Lakes. She was painted royal blue with a gold line and white boot topping.

She left Halifax on her maiden voyage on 1 January, 1938, under the command of LCdr A. R. Pressey, with Lt J. G. Hibbard as First Lieutenant, and Lt C. J. Dillon as Paymaster. The latter two officers retired as Admirals, and coincidentally, Admiral Hibbard was Flag Officer Pacific Command in 1954 when the fourth Venture was commissioned.

Venture continued primarily as a training vessel until, with the Second World War impending, she was paid off on 1 September 1939. The following year Venture was attached to the 3rd RN Battle Squadron in Halifax and used to accommodate RN ratings attached to the Admiral's staff. She was berthed alongside HMS Seaborn, in which the Rear Admiral flew his flag, until the 3rd Battle group was withdrawn to the United Kingdom in September 1941. Six weeks later, Venture gave up her name and was commissioned as a tender (HC 190) to HMCS Stadacona under the command of Lt. J.C. McCarthy RCNR and performed the duties as Narrows Guard Ship, a duty she performed until the end of the war.


Displacement: 250 tons
Overall length: 146'
Breadth: 27'
Draught: 14'
Complement: 40 including
    24 boys under training
Boats: 2 whalers, 1 dinghy
Builders: Meteghan Shipping
    Digby County, NS
Main Engine: Diesel
Guns: two 3-pounders
Sail Area: 12,000 sq. ft.

The Third Canadian Venture

HMCS Venture II Formerly the U.S. yacht Seaborn, she had been acquired in 1939 by Northumberland Ferries Ltd. and renamed Charles A. Dunning just in time to be taken over for naval service and revert to her former name. On 07 Dec 1939, she was commissioned as HMS Seaborn, flagship of the Rear Admiral 3rd Battleship Squadron, Halifax. At the end of Sep 1941, she became HMCS Sambro, depot ship at Halifax for destroyers and auxiliaries, and on 06 Mar 1943 was again renamed Venture II as depot ship for Fairmiles. When the sailing yacht Venture was re-designated on 13 May 1943, the depot ship dropped her Roman suffix and became HMCS Venture until being paid off on 14 Jan 1946.

The Fouth Canadian Venture

The fourth HMCS Venture was commissioned on 11 August 1954, as the RCN Junior Officer Training Establishment. It consisted of one parade square surrounded by several administration, accommodation and classroom buildings. It also included a chapel, a playing field, a gymnasium and a boat shed. Captain (later Rear Admiral) R. P. Welland was its first Commanding Officer. The first Venture class arrived on Sunday 12 September 1954, to commence training, and on 7 October 1954, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Mainguy, officially opened the new training establishment.

The role of HMCS Venture was to train junior naval officers of the Executive, Engineering, Fleet Air Arm and Naval Supply branches during a two-year term of Academic education. After that basic training the various branches received different professional and educational training appropriate to their branch. The Venture motto was: A New Undertaking, to Dare and Not to be Afraid.

The Short Service Officer Plan (SSOP) - which eventually evolved into the Officer Cadet Training Plan (OCTP) superseded the Venture Plan in September 1963. In 1968, with the advent of integration of the Canadian Forces, HMCS Venture was phased out and responsibility for training Naval Officer Cadets (and those commissioned from the ranks) shifted to the Officer Training Division at the Fleet School in Esquimalt. The Officer training Division, through the Fleet School, was responsible to, and reported directly to, the newly established "Training Command Headquarters" in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Venture Today

In September 1976, Venture, the Naval Officer Training Centre (NOTC), was established in the Canadian Forces Fleet School in Naden and welcomed it's first students on 16 August 1977, under the command of Commander [later Rear Admiral] R. C. Waller (Class of ‘59).

On 16 September 1977, NOTC Venture was relocated on the old site of HMCS Givenchy (better known to Ventures as the site of HMCS Venture). In October of 1994, NOTC Venture moved to Work Point Barracks, in CFB Esquimalt, formerly the home of the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

Today, Venture is responsible for the initial training of all watchkeeping officers as well as advanced navigation training for the fleet's navigation officers. Venture encompasses all aspects of junior naval officer training and development. In addition to officer of the watch and navigation training, Venture also offers refresher and other training services to the fleet and to the navy.

The Vice Admiral A.L. Collier Building houses The Navigation and Bridge Simulator, a facility with a computer based training lab, two multimedia theatres and numerous classrooms. The Nixon Building, completed in late October 1999, houses the new Venture Gunroom and Administration Complex.

The NOTC Venture flag-staff, which now stands in front of the Vice Admiral A.L. Collier building, was originally the mainmast of the training schooner Venture.

The Legacy

During the eleven years that the Venture Plan and the three years that the Short Service Officer Plan existed, a total of 462 Officer-Cadets graduated from Venture.

In 1983, NOTC Venture adopted a new motto:

To learn, To serve, To lead

This motto is appropriate to the present and more than adequately describes the past.

Ventures have indeed learned to serve and to lead.

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Brutus, in Julius Caesar (Shakespeare)

-- Wikipedia - HMCS Venture (
-- RCN - HMCS Venture (
-- RCN - HMCS Sambro (

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