Allan Francis MacLellan was born in Hamilton, Ontario on December 2, 1928. His father Ronald, originally from Pictou County, was a coal miner and lived in Sydney Mines. When the steel plant there closed in 1921, the local economy was hard hit and many local men were forced to move west in search of work. Many, including Ronald, moved to Hamilton to take jobs associated with the steel industry there. While in Hamilton, Ronald married Margaret MacNeil from Sydney Mines. Their first three of eleven children were born in Hamilton, including Allan, before the young family relocated back to Sydney Mines, Cape Breton.
Allan grew up and went to school in Sydney Mines. The family lived in various locations including Pond Street, Centreville and King Street. Times were tough especially during World War Two when their father Ronald enlisted in the army and went overseas with the Royal Canadian Engineers. Allan tried to enlist towards the end of the war but was refused due to his age. In his teens, he proudly served in the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets. When Allan finished school, he worked as a clerk in a grocery store.
On June 13, 1949, Allan joined the Royal Canadian Navy and signed on for a five year term. It is believed he worked in naval stores during his time in the navy. His first year and a half was spent training and on shore duty on various naval bases in Canada, including Scotian, Cornwallis and Stadacona in Nova Scotia, and Naden in British Columbia. On November 20, 1950, back in Halifax, he was posted to the HMCS Nootka.
The Nootka was a tribal class destroyer, built in the Halifax Shipyards and launched in April, 1944. She was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy in 1946, too late to see service in World War Two. After commissioning, Nootka served as a training ship for the Atlantic Fleet. In 1949-1950, Nootka was rearmed and outfitted for destroyer escort duty and earmarked for Korea, where she did two tours of duty. Allan was on board during the first tour of duty. Nootka left Halifax for Korea on its first tour of duty in December, 1950. Along the way, they passed through the Panama Canal and made a stop in Hawaii. Nootka was to be one of three Canadian destroyers assigned to the region. While in Korean waters, Nootka performed blockade and screening duties and took part in shore bombardment of North Korean facilities including the coastal railway system which was used for carrying supplies to Communist forces. Allan was a member of a gun crew of one of the large 4” guns on board the Nootka. He spoke of the guns of the ship firing upon a railway bridge and knocking it down. When they returned at a later time, the bridge had been rebuilt. Allan also remembered the Nootka intercepting North Korean junks and sampans which were searched and sometimes seized. The Nootka sailed for home in July, 1951.
After his tour of duty on the Nootka, Allan was posted to HMCS Cornwallis, a Canadian naval base located in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. He was there for almost a year before being posted to the HMCS Magnificent on October 20, 1952.
HMCS Magnificent , affectionately known as “the Maggie,” was a Majestic class light aircraft carrier that served the Royal Canadian Navy from 1946-1956. She didn’t serve in Korea since she was already committed to Nato duties in the Atlantic. During Allan’s posting to the Magnificent, she took part in the Fleet Review on June 15, 1953, at Spithead near Portsmouth, England, to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The coronation and the fleet review were perhaps Allan’s fondest memories of his naval service. He was certainly very proud to have been present.
In August, 1953, after his posting to the Magnificent, Allan was transferred to HMCS Stadacona, the Royal Canadian Navy base in Halifax, for the remaining portion of his naval service. He received an honourable release on June 12, 1954 with the rank of Able Seaman.
After his naval service, Allan returned to Cape Breton, where for a very brief time, tried his hand at coal mining. He later worked for several years at Brennan Wholesale Group in North Sydney. It was during this time that he met and started dating his future wife, Mary Walsh from North Sydney. In 1958, Allan applied and was accepted for a job with Zellers in Moncton, NB. He later worked in Zellers locations in Fredericton, Toronto, Dartmouth, Charlottetown and Halifax. While working in Toronto, he married Mary on October 6, 1959. They eventually bought a home and settled in Lower Sackville, near Halifax, where they began raising a family. Allan was recruited by K-Mart and worked there for a while before returning to Zellers on Barrington Street, in Halifax, as a merchandise manager.
Eventually tiring of the long hours in retail and wanting to spend more time with his family, Allan accepted a job with the federal government in Halifax. Shortly after, he was offered a position in Sydney which he accepted. In the summer of 1972, Allan and Mary with their three children moved back to Cape Breton and purchased a home in Sydney. Allan worked for the government until his retirement in the late 1980’s.
In his spare time, Allan enjoyed wood working and building wood crafts. He quickly outgrew his workshop in the basement so he built a large workshop in the backyard which he stocked with the latest woodworking tools. Allan and Mary became regulars at summer and Christmas craft shows in Cape Breton selling their wood products. Allan also enjoyed stamp collecting, gardening and travelling. In later years, he and Mary were involved in dance groups.
Allan was always proud of his service in the Royal Canadian Navy. While in Sydney, he joined the Cape Breton Naval Veterans Association and the Royal Canadian Legion. He was an active member in Remembrance Day services, memorial services, reunions and parades.
Allan MacLellan passed away on January 17, 2009 at the age of 80. He was laid to rest at Lake Side Cemetery in Georges River, near North Sydney.
This Personal Profile is special to me as Allan MacLellan was my father. I am proud to be able to present his short biography, along with photos, documents, letters and details of his military experiences in the Royal Canadian Navy. He was certainy proud of his service, so Dad, this is for you.
All of the items in the collection came from immediate family members. The letters in Secions 10 to 24 below are particularly facsinating to read. They were all written to Allan's mother in Sydney MInes and span a period of approximately five months in 1950-1951 when Allan served on the Royal Canadian Navy destroyer HMCS Nootka after it left Halifax for its first tour of duty in the Korean War. The Nootka sailed south to Bermuda and then through the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean, and then on to Hawaii, Japan and Korea. Allan's letters detail the voyage, ship board training and the places he visited along the way. The last few letters were wriiten while in the military theatre of operations and provide information on some of the actions the Nootka was involved in.