Launched in 1928 by Burrard Dry Dock in North Vancouver, the vessel St. Roch was built specifically for the RCMP to serve their remote detachments and communities along a 1,200 mile arctic coastline. During WWII she became the first vessel to transit the Northwest Passage from west to east. Subsequently the St. Roch became the first vessel to complete the Passage in both directions, and the first to circumnavigate North America. The accomplishments of the St. Roch led it to become a symbol of Canadian sovereignty.
Photo: RCMP St. Roch trial voyage, 1928.
Eugene Campbell “Dean” Hadley grew up on the Canadian prairies in the 1920’s. An early fascination with radios led to a most unique experience with the RCMP. He joined the force and learned about basic forensic analysis in their Crime Lab. In 1940, Hadley applied to the position of “Radio Operator” for the St. Roch and was onboard for the successful navigation of the Northwest Passage. Following his time with the RCMP, Hadley moved to the US and worked in the electronics and aerospace industries.
Photo: RCMP St. Roch crew in uniform, Halifax, 1942: Patrick George Hunt, Eugene Cuthbert Hadley, Henry Asbjørn Larsen
In 1937, Ernest James “Scotty” Gall sailed the 60 foot Hudson’s Bay Company vessel Aklavik east from Cambridge Bay carrying 45 tons of cargo to be left at HBC posts in the Arctic. Gall sailed to King William Island, north through Bellot Strait, and finally arrived at Fort Ross to deliver goods to the RMS Nascopie. This event marked a successful navigation of the Northwest Passage (the western half by the Aklavik; the eastern half by the Nascopie) as well as the first use of the Passage for commercial purposes.
Photo: View of HBC Aklavik from RMS Nascopie, 1937