Nova Scotia

Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf remembered over Bedford Days

Thousands of people will celebrate Bedford Days over the weekend, and many will do so in DeWolf Park, the waterfront hub for the Halifax community.

Historian talks about Bedford boy who became 'Canada's naval hero'

Harry DeWolf poses for a portrait. (Department of National Defence. )

Thousands of people will celebrate Bedford Days over the weekend, and many will do so in DeWolf Park, the waterfront hub for the Halifax community.

Few may know the man who gave the park its name: Bedford resident and naval hero Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf.

Born in 1903, he signed up for the Royal Canadian Navy in 1918. When World War Two broke out in 1939, he took command of the destroyer HMCS St. Laurent and escorted convoys from Bedford Basin to the European war.

He was twice the subject of a Mention in Dispatches, a national honour given for distinguished service.

Friday marks the 112th anniversary of his birth and CBC's Mainstreet spoke with senior naval historian Michael Whitby.

Whitby interviewed DeWolf while doing his master's degree. He's co-author of The Official History of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War, and wrote the chapter on DeWolf.

Canada will name the first arctic/offshore patrol ship after DeWolf.

A quiet, humble man

"He would shrug his shoulders, and smile and say, 'If they want to, I guess," said Whitby, who works at the directorate of history and heritage for the Department of National Defence.

"He's quintessentially Canadian: quiet, reserved, wonderful quiet sense of humour. As a naval officer, he had incredibly shrewd judgement. He was a very smart man with great common sense. And very pragmatic in how he did things. Very modest man. Just a delight to talk to."

DeWolfe died in 2000. His park holds a plaque recounting some of his career.

"He's Canada's naval hero," Whitby said. "We don't normally, in Canada, name warships after people. It's extremely rare.

"If you're going to start that practice I think you can't start any better than Admiral DeWolf."

Oh — and he once wrestled with a torpedo. Listen to Whitby tell that story here

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