Canada Day celebrations in Charlottetown are expected to have an historic visitor this summer.

16,000 km journey

The HMCS Oriole — a tall ship and Canada's oldest naval vessel — is leaving Esquimalt, B.C., on Thursday to make the approximate 16,000 kilometre journey to Charlottetown for July 1.

"The most exciting part is celebrating Canada 150 with Canadians. Most people don't get an opportunity to do that," said the ship's Lt. Cmdr. Michael Wills. 

HMCS Oriole

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Wills says this journey will be one of the ship's longest. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

The ship is also planning to be in Charlottetown for the Rendezvous 2017 tall ship festival.

On its way to Charlottetown, the HMCS Oriole is heading to Panama, through the canal, and then to Bermuda.

Arriving on June 30

From there, the ship will make its way to Quebec City for a tall ship festival before arriving in Charlottetown on June 30. The HMCS Oriole will then arrive in Nova Scotia in August. It is planning to visit 10 Canadian cities, said Wills, with a return to B.C. in March 2018.

"It's a really neat experience for us because rarely do we get to visit so many communities in such a short time frame. So, that will be quite the experience," he said.

HMCS Oriole

The HMCS Oriole was built in 1921. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

Along with a previous trip to the east coast in 1984 and a trip to Australia in 1998, Wills said this is one of the longest journeys for the HMCS Oriole. 

Built in 1921, the ship is used for leadership and seamanship training as well as outreach with youth. 

With files from Laura Chapin and CBC B.C.