For Posterity's Sake         

A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project


HMCS Margaret


Launched: 1914

Acquired by RCN: Aug 1914

Commissioned: 03 Feb 1915

Paid off: 3 Apr 1919

Transferred to Brazilian Navy: 1935

Paid off: 1958

Fate: Final disposition unknown


The Canadian Customs Preventive Service was established in 1892 but it was not until 1914 that it received its first vessel built specifically for customs patrol purposes. That vessel. the Margaret, was built by the English firm, Thornycroft at its Woolston Works near Southhampton. The 800 ton ship was 185 feet long by 32 feet in breadth, drew 15 feet and had a reinforced hull to resist ice. The 200 ton capacity of the bunkers gave a cruising range of 4,000 miles, or 2,000 miles at full speed. She carried a 30 foot motor launch, a 26 foot lifeboat, a 22 foot captain’s cutter and a 16 foot dinghy. As initially configured she was armed with two 6 pound guns Vickers guns of the latest design. Launched in January 1914 she was completed and delivered to Halifax in April 1914 and took up her customs patrols. Anticipating the outbreak of what would become the Great War by only a few days she was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy on 4 August and was commissioned on 03 February 1915 as HMCS Margaret. She, like the Hochelaga and Constance, became part of the fleet of small vessels which served as escorts and patrol vessels along the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the duration of the war. She was in Halifax Harbour a the time of the Halifax Explosion and suffered minor damage. 


The Margaret was paid off on 03 April 1919 and returned to the Customs Preventive Service following the end of the war and once again took up her patrol duties in the Gulf of St Lawrence and Atlantic Coast in 1919. She was converted from coal to oil-fired boilers in 1925. Her armament was also reduced in 1927 to one six-pounder and seventeen rifles. During these years, much of her work consisted of customs patrols against rum running. In 1932, the CPS was absorbed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and the service's personnel and ships were transferred to the RCMP's Marine Section. Following the transfer of the CPS's responsibilities to the RCMP in 1932, the number of personnel was reduced and some former CPS vessels were discarded. Margaret was among the CPS vessels sold later that year as a result of these cutbacks, and was acquired by the Brazilian state of São Paulo, which named her Ruth, during the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932. Confiscated by the Brazilian government, she was renamed Rio Branco and was converted to a hydrographic survey ship for the Brazilian Navy in 1934. After serving as a coastal escort vessel in World War II, the Rio Branco returned to hydrographic work and was discarded in 1957 or 1958. (Source: From Rum running to Gun running – the Customs Cutter Margaret by Harry Holman)


Photos and Documents          Ship's company photos


Commanding Officers

Capt Frederick Claude Coote Pasco, RN - 03 Feb 1915 - unk

Cdr (Temp) Burrard Archibald Smith, RCN - 24 Mar 1915 - unk

Lt Alfred John May, RNCVR - 16 May 1917 - unk

Lt Alfred John May, RNCVR - 01 May 1918 - unk


     In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice    

     Lest We Forget     

DUNN, William Philip

Petty Officer, VR4505, RCN

Killed - 06 Dec 1917 


     In memory of those who have crossed the bar    

They shall not be forgotten


Agnew, Ronald Ian


Banks, Henry Hatfield


Drafted to Margaret 01 May 1918 as Ch/Art (E), RCN

Boyce, Abraham


Drafted to Margaret 01 May 1918 at Mate, RNCVR




Cross, Richard Norman


Drafted to Margaret 08 Feb 1918 and 01 May 1918 as Mate, RNCVR

Dobbie, Norman Alexander


Drafted to Margaret 16 Jun 1917 as W. Op 4th Cl., RNCVR

Douglas, Montague Gillott


Drafted to Margaret as Slt, RNR




Gagnon, Amedee


Harris, George Frederick


Drafted to Margaret 01 May 1918 as W. Op 2nd Cl, RNCVR





Irwin, Cecil Holmes


Drafted to Margaret 01 May 1918 as W. Op 4th Cl, RNCVR






Lester, Maxime Charles


Drafted to Margaret 12 Mar 1915 as Slt, RNR






Manning, Benjamin Walter Carroll


Drafted to Margaret 16 May 1917 and 01 May 1918 as Slt (N), RNCVR, NAVO

May, Alfred John


Commanding Officer

16 May 1917 and 01 May 1918

Mills, Charles E.


Drafted to Margaret 12 Mar 1915 as Slt, RNR

Murray, Leonard Warren


Served in Margaret as Slt, RCN, Flotilla Gunnery Officer



Pasco, Frederick Claude Coote


Drafted to Margaret 03 Feb 1915 as Capt., RN

Pellett, Herbert


Served in Margaret in 1915





Smith, Burrard Archibald


Drafted to Margaret 24 Mar 1915 as Cdr (Temp), RCN

Stuart, Kenneth Henry


Drafted to Margaret as Slt, RNR

Sutherland, Stanley


Drafted to Margaret 08 Feb 1918 as Bos'n (Temp), RCN and 01 May 1918 as Bos'n, RCN




Waite, Arthur Lindsay


Drafted to Margaret 18 Feb 1918 and 01 May 1918 as Mate, RNCVR

Wonham, Walter Richard


Drafted to Margaret 18 May 1918 as W. Op 4th Cl, RNCVR





Photos and Documents


HMCS Margaret - date unknown

Brazilian Navy Corvette Rio Branco

Rio Branco seen at full steam during one patrol escort. Picture SDGM (Servico de Documentacao Geral da Marinha)