A BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR CORPS
Our branch of the Navy League of Canada was established in May 1928. Though no records remain, it is believed that a Navy League Cadet Corps (precursor to the current program) was formed at this time or shortly after. Taking the name Arethusa after the HMS Arethusa, a British Light Cruiser that was launched in 1913. The corps held the first recorded in person training on Febuary 4, 1931. This was held at the Belleville Armouries. By March 3, 1931 the corps found a new home at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 99, before moving to the Belleville Collegiate Institute and Vocational School.
In July of 1947 the unit, now called Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Quinte taking its new name from the Canadian Naval Minesweeper HMCS Quinte (I) and having been granted the Royal suffix in 1942 by His Majesty King George VI, found a permanent headquarters at 16 South Front Street. We have been located here ever since. In 1988 the building was taken down to its foundation and replaced with the current building, being ready for cadets in September 1988.
The unit's numbers fluctuated over the years, struggling like many units during the depression of the 1930's, Quinte was able to avoid the fate of so many other cadet units across the country who were forced to disband. An influx of cadets during the post World War II years saw the units numbers balloon to approximately 100 cadets on strength all through the late 40's and into the 50's. During this time Quinte ran sub-units in places such as Trenton, Frankford, Napanee and Stirling. Some of these sub-units still survive today either by becoming stand alone units (RCSCC Trent) or by reforming as a new unit in more recent times (RCSCC Napanee). By 1963 the post war boom had fallen off and the unit was down to 22 cadets on strength.
In the early 1960's Quinte had become a rough place to be, our main deck was regularly turned into a boxing ring and our cadets were associated with "being from the wrong side of the rail tracks" (at this time the neighbourhood south of the CP rail line in Belleville was considered an undesirable part of the city to live in). By the late 1960's Quinte had narrowly avoided the fate felt by our sister unit RCSCC Hallowell (Picton Ontario) who was disbanded at this time. An influx of support from new Officer staff and from Area Officers over the rest of the 60's and into the 70's slowly helped to rebuild the unit. Boats that had been donated in the 1950's were repaired and Quinte started running a sailing program on the Bay of Quinte (sailing programs were extremely rare in the sea cadet program at this time). The unit also stared up a Brass and Reed Band replacing the previous Bugle and Drum band. This gave our cadets an activity to participate in during the non-sailing months and also was a form of fundraising by participating in local Santa Claus Parades.
By the mid 1970's Quinte maintained a program of 50-60 cadets on strength by offering a strong Sailing, Seamanship, Leadership and Music program. The days of being from the wrong side of the tracks were starting to fade. With government grants in 1972 and 1973, Quinte and the Belleville Branch of the Navy League began running very successful 2 week summer training camps teaching sailing and music. The following year unit staff were convinced to dial the training in on sailing and to expand the opportunity to cadets from across the province. With the support of the Provincial Navy League, the unit began running "Operation Sail Safe" off of Waupoos Island south of Picton. This grew to a DND supported program called "Camp Sail Safe" and was the forerunner of cadet sail training at Camp Frontenac and later HMCS Ontario.
Finishing off the 19070's and going into the 1980's a strong association with the cadets from RCSCC Falkland (Ottawa) and RCSCC Stormont (Cornwall) was formed through summer music training at HMCS Quadra in BC. This friendship between units continued well into the 1990's and early 2000's and resulted in many multi-unit training activities and performances taking place on a rotating bases between the units.
In 1975 the Department of National Defense officially opened the program to all youth allowing girls to join the sea cadet program. Prior to this the Navy League of Canada - Belleville Branch Ladies Auxiliary (formed in 1968) had run a similar program for female youth, the Navy League Wrennette Corps. This organization aimed to teach young women many of the same skills as the cadet program taught such as Seamanship, Leadership and Naval Knowledge. While not officially allowed until the 1975 training year, Quinte began including females in the program as early as 1973.
The early 2000's saw another balloon in the enrollment numbers at the unit with the number of cadets reaching 127 on strength in 2001/2002 training year. Strong sailing, music and marksmanship programs aided in strong numbers all through the early years of the 21st century. A turn over of staff and the modernization of the national training program lead to a period of rebuilding in the mid to late 2010's. While many aspects of the program experienced changes, Quinte was able to weather the changes by maintaining a focus on teaching seamanship, leadership and teamwork. The unit had found its stride once again by the beginning of the 2020's. With 70 cadets on strength and a solid music and marksmanship program, Quinte continued to fulfill its goal of offering a great program to the youth of the Quinte region.
Things changed once again in March 2020 as the unit (like almost all organizations in Canada) was forced to shut down in person training in response to the Covid-19 public health pandemic. Developing a virtual training platform, training resumed (virtually) in September 2020. Training continued to be virtual, with very limited in person activities until the spring of 2022. With the start of the September 2022 training year, the unit has happily (if not a bit cautiously) returned to in person. With the resumption of on water, marksmanship and music training, the future looks promising for RCSCC Quinte.
Today RCSCC Quinte and the Navy League of Canada - Belleville Branch are honoured to be the custodians of many artifacts from the HMCS Quinte (I), HMCS Belleville, HMCS Quinte (II) as well as the artifacts and stories from RCSCC Quinte, RCSCC Hallowell and all the cadets and sailors who have served on these ships and at these units. Our history tells the story of the community and Canadians we have served.
As we approach Quinte's 100th anniversary, we excitedly look forward to seeing what will be possible and achieved by the unit and the cadets it serves in the next 100 years!
Our Building (The Ship)
16 South Front Street Belleville Ontario
The Ship pre 1988
The Ship post 1988
RCSCC QUINTE is named for the two RCN minesweepers.
The ships badge is Blazon Vert, a Tudor rose, barbed and seeded or, upon a pentagonal cross pattee the arms being formed by five letter "E" each letter facing and converging towards the fess point argent.
HMCS QUINTE was a Bangor class minesweeper. Built in 1941 she took part in the Battle of the Atlantic. She wore the pennant 166 during her commission. The Quinte sank on Nov 30 1942, off Cape Breton Island. The ship was refloated and spent the rest of her days during the war as a training ships at HMCS Cornwallis. After the war the Quinte was used for naval research until she was decommissioned in Aug 1946
HMCS QUINTE (II) was a bay class minesweeper that served during the cold war. Commissioned in Oct 1954 she wore the pennant 149. She was decommissioned in Feb 1964.
HMCS Quinte (I)
HMCS Quinte (II)