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History of the Canadian Coast Guard

Learn about the history of the Canadian Coast Guard dating back to the 1800s.

1867 to 1962

Various governments patrolled the East Coast and the Great Lakes with their own vessels until Confederation. In 1868 the Government of Canada established the Department of Marine and Fisheries. This department was responsible for:

In 1936, the Department of Transport became responsible for marine transportation and the Marine Service. As ocean commerce expanded and the St. Lawrence Seaway opened, the need for a national coast guard grew.

On January 26, 1962, the Honourable Leon Balcer, Minister of Transport, created the Canadian Coast Guard.

1962 to 2005

The Canadian Coast Guard crest was created in 1962.

The Canadian Coast Guard Badge

It includes the following symbols:

The Latin motto “Saluti Primum, Auxilio Semper” means “Safety First, Service Always.”

In the early years, the Canadian Coast Guard significantly expanded its fleet. The Marine Service’s ships were scheduled for replacement, so new ships were commissioned. The Canadian Coast Guard College was established to train hundreds of new officers and crew members.

In 1995, the Canadian Coast Guard moved to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to save costs. The Department’s Science and Conservation and Protection fleets were incorporated with the Canadian Coast Guard fleet. This joined the two largest civilian fleets in the federal government under one department.

2005 to present

In 2005, the Canadian Coast Guard was declared a special operating agency of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

In 2012, the Government of Canada announced the National Shipbuilding Strategy to renew the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy fleets.

The Canadian Coast Guard announced in 2014 that it would replace its existing helicopters with 23 new ones. The final helicopter was delivered in September 2021.

In 2017, the Government of Canada announced the Oceans Protection Plan. The Oceans Protection Plans has helped the Canadian Coast Guard:

In 2018, we announced the creation of a fourth Canadian Coast Guard region, in the Arctic. Establishing the Arctic Region helps us:

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