In an emotional full-circle moment, Retired Vice-Admiral Nigel Brodeur spoke at the unveiling of a Canadian Naval Services monument commemorating its creation by his grandfather, Louis-Phillipe Brodeur, in 1910.
The following year the Canadian Naval Service became the Royal Canadian Navy and May 4 marked the 108th anniversary of the day.
|A Canadian Naval Services monument was unveiled Friday dedicated to the creation of the Canadian Naval Service in 1910. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS|
“It’s nice to see the commemoration of the navy from the beginning,” Brodeur said Friday at the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum.
“Very often one hears a lot of the battle of the Atlantic, but less about the earliest years of the navy, what a challenge it was to form a navy and how important it is to continue that navy,” he added.
“To strengthen it, retain the blue water capability and how all Canadians can be proud of those who serve the Royal Canadian Navy nowadays.”
Brodeur’s grandfather became the first Minister of the Naval Service, but went on to become Speaker of the House of Commons and a Supreme Court judge.
Brodeur’s father, Rear-Admiral Victor Brodeur, was one of the first six officer-cadets in Canada’s navy and served as the Commanding Officer Pacific Coast during the Second World War. He was also the first French-speaking Quebecer to reach the rank of rear-admiral and is the namesake of Esquimalt’s French first language school, L’ecole Victor-Brodeur.
Nigel Brodeur had a decorated 38-year career, rising through the ranks during postings to Halifax and Ottawa before being promoted to vice-admiral and later named Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff before retiring in 1987.
Students from @csf_brodeur pose with Vice Admiral (retired) Nigel Brodeur, whose father is the namesake of their school. Vadm Brodeur spoke today at the unveiling of a monument commemorating the establishment of the Canadian Naval Service in 1910 #yyj pic.twitter.com/h6xpABXvz8
— Victoria News (@VictoriaNews) May 4, 2018
The Brodeur family’s naval legacy returned to the beginning with the unveiling of the plaque.
“I congratulate everyone involved in producing this impressive monument,” Nigel said. “I wish them every success and wish the same to the museum staff, which happens to reside in the ancient Base Commander’s residence where I first lived following my birth in 1932.”
When asked what it’s been like having such a family legacy, and then living up to that, Brodeur was moved to tears.
“Well, it’s an obligation which never leaves anyone who has had the honour of serving, and of having members of the Royal Canadian Navy serve with and under them. That obligation lives with you all your life,” he said.
”My father, when he was asked in an interview by CBC many years back, if he would do it all over again … he answered, ‘like a shot!’” Brodeur paused with emotion. “I loved every moment of it and I would gladly do it again.”