HMCS Rainbow (1891)

Rainbow in late 1910, after arriving in Esquimalt, British Coloumbia, Canada. Image in the collection of the Library and Archives of Canada.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

HMS Rainbow was built as an Apollo-class protected cruiser for the Royal Navy. Rainbow was stationed in China from 1895 to 1898, then redeployed to Malta. Returning home the following year, Rainbow was deemed too expensive for her capabilities, and spent most of the next decade in reserve. She did see some service in the Mediterranean, but was transferred to Canada in 1910. Assigned to the west coast, Rainbow became the first Canadian ship to transit the Strait of Magellan while en route, since the Americans had yet to finish the Panama Canal. Rainbow spent most of her Canadian career performing coast guard or customs duties, but was employed in hunting German Raiders in the Pacific from 1914-17. In late 1916, Rainbow was used to transfer gold bullion from Russia to Canada for safekeeping, with the transfer completed in early 1917. She was decommissioned in May, 1917, when the RCN decided that her operations cost was too high, and that her crew was more urgently needed in the Atlantic. Rainbow was retained in reserve until 1920, when she was sold for scrap.