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MacK Lynch Library

The MacK Lynch Reading Room and Library is located on the second deck of HMCS Bytown at the top of the stairs. In the busy mess, the Library is intended as a place of quiet and a source of reference and reading material on naval and seagoing history.

Use of the Library

Purpose: Library items are intended for use as reference material by members of NAC(O) & of HMCS Bytown, either in the Library, or at home.

Contents: A list of books, audio and video recordings can be downloaded here.  Library contents are displayed on open shelves, or in the locked cabinet containing items of greater value.  The cabinet key can be obtained from the bar tender.


There are specific sections for:

  • Newly received
  • RCN & other Canadian Seagoing
  • Royal Navy
  • United States Navy
  • German Navy
  • Soviet or Russian Navy
  • Other Navies
  • Churchill
  • Large Books [which do not fit into their national shelves]
  • Other Seagoing & Non-naval
  • Audio-Visual
  • Fiction

Withdrawals: the Library operates on the “Honour System”.  Should you wish to borrow items from the Library, please sign them out and in using the binder on the telephone table.

Contributions: the Library is stocked by contributions from members and from the Friends of the Canadian War Museum [FCWM].  It is kept current by on-going contributions from you. Contributions can be dropped off at the Library, if few in number, or by contacting the Librarian if more are involved. All contributions are checked against the lists of items currently held by the Library and added to the Library’s collection if new, or transferred to the FCWM, if they are duplicates or non-applicable.

Librarian: Gordon Forbes can be reached by email at

Background of the Library

The MacK Lynch Library was originally the office of the long time and much respected Mess Manager, Bob Sharpe (March 1948 – April 1976). Bob Sharpe had been the second butler in Government House to Governor General, Viscount Alexander of Tunis. When the Governor General’s term was up, Bob Sharpe indicated that he wanted to stay in Canada and welcomed the opportunity to serve as the manager of the Naval Mess. He came with a tradition of a high standard of service and identified with each generation of naval officers using the Bytown Mess. For him, the location of his office assured high availability to mess members.

When a new Mess Manager’s Office was built on the lower level of the Bytown Mess building, it was decided to convert the old Mess Manager’s Office into a naval library, with mess members donating naval books from their personal libraries.

When wartime chums gathered in the mess, the discussion usually turned to wartime experiences, which gave rise to the belief that these stories should be shared with others by publishing them. This resulted in the formation of a formal publishing organization, the Salty Dips Committee, within the structure of the Naval Officers Association of Canada (Ottawa Branch). The initial Chairman of this Committee was MacK Lynch.

MacK was the driving force of this committee, which gathered and published the recollections of men and women, who had served in the Canadian Navy (RCN, RCNVR, RCNR and WRCNS), and the Canadian Merchant Service. At the time of his death MacK and his Committee had published four popular volumes of true experiences. Mack also published his own experiences in the Navy, with the book, “ORION, Mighty Warrior; A Canadian Radar Officer in Britain’s Ships of War”.

MacK had joined the RCAF at age 20 as an AC2 store keeper and rose to the rank of LAC. In 1937 he joined the newly formed Regular Officers’ Training Plan and graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering from Queen’s University. He joined the RCNVR in 1941 and spent the duration of World War II as a Radar Officer on the loan to the Royal Navy for four and a half years. First he served in the cruiser HMS “ORION”, mainly in the Mediterranean, and then in the cruiser HMS”LONDON” in the Far East.

At the end of the World War II, to his own surprise, he transferred to the permanent force navy (RCN).  The appointment he particularly cherished  was as Electrical Officer of the aircraft carrier, HMCS ”MAGNIFICENT”, responsible for generating enough power for a small town and running every electric repair shop you would expect in a city the size of Ottawa. He was also the Principal Overseer of the last major refit of HMCS ”BONAVENTURE” at Davie Shipbuilding, Lauzon, PQ. MacK retired from the Royal Canadian Navy in 1972. After leaving the Service he spent seven years as a division director of a technical computer firm, acting out the role of a small business employer”. (Soundings November, 1993)

John Andrew MacKinnon Lynch, or MacK Lynch (1916 – 1993), had made such a significant contribution to the development of the Salty Dips production during the years 1982 – 1993, that the naval mess wanted to honour his excellent effort by re-naming the Bytown Mess Library in MacK’s honour.  Jennifer Lynch (MacK’s daughter) donated her father’s library to the NOAC Ottawa Branch Library. The Bytown Wardroom renamed the Reading Room as the “MacK Lynch Reading Room”. A formal dedication was held on June 5, 1995.

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