HMCS Yellowknife aims high
City's namesake ship holds fund-raiser

Dane Gibson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 17/99) - Officers swabbing the poop deck, hair flying, and junior sailors being served dinner by the captain -- has the HMCS Yellowknife gone mad?

Not according to Navy Reserve Lieutenant David Connelly, who was on board the HMCS Yellowknife in November for a two-week cruise up the West Coast.

He said the open seas hijinx were all done to raise money for the Salvation Army in Yellowknife.

"A normal fund-raising target for a much larger Canadian Navy ship is $400," said Connelly.

"Obviously the crew proved very enthusiastic because they raised over four times that for a charity in their namesake city."

The total amount raised by the crew of 40 was $1,700. It all started when the Commanding Officer, Lt.-Cmdr. Grant Bannister, announced that if the crew could raise $600 for the Yellowknife Salvation Army, he would shave his head completely bald. Petty Officer Doug Holt said he'd also get shaved.

On the afternoon of Nov. 24 it was time for the haircut. When it was over, Bannister and Holt found themselves on the bridge, both as bald as a cue ball.

After the sheep shearing, to show he was a good sport, Bannister auctioned off the use of his private cabin during a weekend stopover in Prince Rupert, B.C. That garnered $200 for the cause.

The grand finale came when the crew donated $700 of their hard-earned money for a list of chores to be completed by the officers upon the ship's return to Victoria.

"I can say the crew took great delight in seeing the officers carry out the garbage, scrub the decks, and stow the lines when we returned to port," said Connelly.

Once it was over, Connelly returned to his home in Yellowknife along with Canadian Forces Northern Area Cpl. Marcia Peers and Cpl. Sophie Picard, who were also on the voyage. Connelly said he'd do it all over again if given half a chance.

"The ship is modern and very well run. The crew was in good spirits and I was glad to be on board," Connelly said.

Following the journey, Lt.-Cmdr. Bannister noted he was happy to have his ship back.

"The ship's company was very enthusiastic during the charity drive," said Bannister.

"I think it's great for the ship to have the opportunity to repay the citizens of our namesake city for their continuous generosity."