Honoring the Battle of the Atlantic, The Crow’s Nest Officer’s Club is a friendly museum where you can explore history with a pint.
The Crow’s Nest is not a bar. It is a private club. Perched as it is above the War Memorial, walking in from a downtown street feels like walking into a secret, well-appointed library above the city. The polished wood gleams, chairs around the hearth beckon, and the unique artifacts catch your attention immediately. If you don’t know what you are walking into, you are awed and intrigued.
Yes, you can walk in, get yourself a pint, and admire the space, but beware. You may find yourself so captivated that you become a member. I did. Membership is recommended if you wish to come back from time to time. Which you will, I wager. You realize you’ve entered a sacred space, and you are privileged to be in a room where so many brave men had the last drink they would ever have on dry land.
Originally opened as The Seagoing Officer’s Club on January 27th, 1942, it began as a hideaway for seagoing naval officers in a city full of military activity during the Second World War. It was a concept ahead of its time. PTSD would not be understood for decades to come, but founder Captain Rollo Mainguy realized officers needed a “safe space” to relax and let off steam with other officers who understood the horrors of war only too well. Lady Dorothy Outerbridge and her husband Leonard helped Capt. Mainguy find the location, atop what was then a warehouse.
The Crow’s Nest contains an amazing collection of WW2 memorabilia, and is a National Historic Site. The gunshield art lining the walls is so charming it’s easy to forget the times it was created in. The periscope from a German U- Boat is a stellar relic, but there is a tiny, humble spike in a wooden plank that outshines it. The remains of a contest of strength held on the Club’s opening night, the winning spike was driven into the deck by the Commanding Officer of HMCS Spikenard, a ship lost just weeks later along with captain, officers, and most crew.
A new generation is discovering the Crow’s Nest, with recent members including Mark Critch, Jeremy Charles, Alan Doyle, Allan Hawco, and Jamie Korab. President Gary Walsh and past president Margaret Morris are clearly passionate about every square inch of the Club and the history behind it, and intend to keep it the very special place it is.
76 years later, it keeps alive the memory of the sacrifices made by those who fought for the freedom of people they would never know, like us.