Charles Kingsmill

Kingsmill c.1918, during his tenure as Director of the Naval Service. Official photo, now in the public domain.

Born: 1855
Years of Service

Born in Guelph, Canada West, now Ontario, Charles Edmund Kingsmill was the son of Crown Attorney John Kingsmill, and his wife Ellen. Following education in Toronto, he joined the Royal Navy at age 14 as a midshipman. The following year, he was promoted to sub-lieutenant, and received his first command, gunboat HMS Goldfinch, in 1890. In 1905, Kingsmill received command of the new pre-dreadnought battleship HMS Dominion. Dominion ran aground under his command in August, 1906, while Kingsmill was not on the bridge, and the resulting court-martial issued him a severe reprimand. His final command was the older battleship HMS Repulse. He retired from the Royal Navy in 1908, and he and his wife, Constance, were major figures in Ottowa's social life. Kingsmill was made an honorary aide to the Governor-General in 1909, and he was a major influence in the creation of the Canadian Naval Service the following year, which would eventually become the Royal Canadian Navy. Kingsmill became it's first Director on 4 May, 1910, and held the post until 31 December, 1921, guiding it through World War I. In 1917, Kingsmill was promoted to Admiral, and he was knighted the following year. Besides his home on the outskirts of Ottowa, Kingsmill also had a summer home on Big Rideau Lake, near Portland, Ontario, where he spent much of his time sailing. He died there on 15 July, 1935, and a fleet of small boats escorted his body to the mainland for burial.