In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar


Piercy Augustus Haynes


Petty Officer, Shipwright, RCNVR


Born: 10 Sep 1910, Guyana


Died: 24 Jul 1992, Winnipeg Manitoba


Piercy/Piercey was the first Black Canadian to join the Canadian Navy (RCNVR).  The following is a excerpt from parliamentary records of 10 Mar 1999:


"An incident took place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, involving a young black man named Piercey Haynes. He had come to Canada, specifically to Winnipeg, many years earlier with his parents, from British Guiana. He was well known and well thought of in Winnipeg. In high school, he was a boxer, and in 1942 he decided he wanted to go into the navy, for the simple reason that he saw many of his friends and former schoolmates flocking into the navy. For some reason, many people in Western Canada chose the navy as the service they wanted to join. Some people say that the reason for this is that westerners were freshwater sailors and they wanted to find out what this saltwater business was all about.


Piercey Haynes, along with many others, went to the recruiting station. He walked in and spoke to the officer in charge, a captain in rank, who refused to accept him into the navy and suggested he join the army. Piercey Haynes replied that, if he was not good enough for the navy, he was not good enough for the army. He continued his protests by writing a letter to the Naval Secretary, the late Honourable Angus L. Macdonald, a fellow Nova Scotian and fellow Cape Bretonner. Mr. Macdonald got back to him by mail and indicated to him that that clause in the Naval Service Act was put there in the best interests of minority persons. He indicated that long research had proven that, when a minority group and a majority group come together, the minority group suffers.


Piercey Haynes did not accept that line of reasoning. He was going into the navy. There would be officers there to make sure all members of the navy were treated equally. He persisted and continued to write letters, and the Naval Council met on several occasions in an attempt to deal with the issue. Finally, they decided to revise the Naval Service Act by removing that clause and opening the navy to Canadians of good health, regardless of race, colour or creed. Piercey Haynes made further contact with Angus L. Macdonald, who instructed him to go back to the naval station.


He returned armed with a letter from Mr. Macdonald. The captain in charge, the same gentleman, refused even to look at the letter. That was insubordination. Shortly thereafter, that captain was removed from that post and Piercey Haynes went into the Navy.



Undated article on Piercy Haynes

Courtesy of the Naval Museum of Halifax

Piercy Haynes

Courtesy of the Naval Museum of Halifax




Shipwright Piercy Haynes, RCNVR

Crowsnest Newspaper Feb 1944




Article on the life of Piercy Haynes

Winnipeg Free Press 08 Feb 2015


Click on the article above to view a larger image



Grave marker for Piercy A. Haynes at the Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens Winnipeg, MB

Source: Find-a-Grave



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