All posts by Dinger

About Dinger

A sea cadet at RCSCC LION from 1963 to 1968, I joined the Naval Reserve at HMCS STAR in 1968 as a Bos'n. I was an Officer Cadet in the ROUTP, commissioned in 1971, and awarded my watchkeeping ticket in 1973. I served at sea, at one time or another, in all five Gate Vessels and HMCS FORT STEELE & CHAUDIERE as well as the Coast Guard icebreaker Louis St. Laurent and served as OIC of the patrol vessels RALLY and RAPID. At STAR from 1968 to 2007, I served as XO twice and then as CO from 2002 to 2005. I rounded out my career by serving as SSO Training at NAVRESHQ in Quebec City in 2008, retiring in 2009 as CO of HMCS HUNTER in Windsor. I was Executive Director for the Friends of HMCS HAIDA till 2011 and have been an active volunteer onboard HAIDA since she arrived in Hamilton in 2003.

O Say Can You See?

HMS METEOR, the former HMS STARR rebuilt as a bomb vessel, and armed with a 13” and a 10” mortar, was one of five bomb vessels which took part in the bombardment of Fort McHenry at Baltimore, Maryland on September 12th and 13th, 1814.  Some of “the bombs bursting in air” that inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star Spangled Banner came from METEOR

Another of the bomb vessels that took part in the bombardment of Fort McHenry was HMS TERROR, later stranded in the ice during the Franklin expedition of 1845 and only discovered in 2016 in the Canadian arctic.

An Idea Worth Considering!

  • A proposal by Tim Fletcher of Grimsby in the 17 August 2019 edition of The Hamilton Spectator

Time to resurrect the Hamilton

A replica of the warship could help promote the true story of the War of 1812

A cannon on the deck of the sunken U.S. warship, the Hamilton, which sank during the War of 1812. Tim Fletcher argues someone should build a replica tall ship.

I enjoyed Cathy Coward’s image of Bob Williamson in period uniform visiting the graves of sailors from the Hamilton and Scourge. It was a most evocative image — in more ways than one. When Hamilton acquired ownership of the Hamilton and Scourge, I was excited at the possibilities. Sadly, none of them have been realized, forcing me to wonder what the point of acquiring their ownership was. The ships are in deep water, unseen by anyone except a few divers.

I was recently watching an episode of the TV drama, “Madam Secretary,” where the lead actor told the Canadian ambassador that the U.S. had won the War of 1812. In real life, I heard an American interpreter on Mackinac Island in Michigan say the same thing, despite the plain fact of Canada being an independent nation.

Hamilton has a major opportunity to help promote the true version of the War of 1812, as well as contribute economically to the city, through their ownership of the two sunken warships. It is time to consider building a replica of the Hamilton and joining the Tall Ships community. The Hamilton is a relatively small schooner and a replica could easily be constructed. Of course, it would cost money — I estimate about $3 million — but I think it would be offset, at least in major part, through tourism offshoots. The vessel could be housed in a special dock in winter, inside a boathouse built for the ship, allowing tours, including school tours, to continue all year. It could host harbour and lakefront cruises. Imagine a night on the water under full sail! The tall ship Empire Sandy out of Port Colborne offers an example of the possibilities.

It would be a living tribute to the sailors who died aboard the original vessel and its companion, the Scourge. It would be a memorial to all who died in that pointless conflict. It would be a reminder to American visitors that they did not win the War of 1812. Perhaps more importantly, it would be a major ambassador for Hamilton by cruising the Great Lakes alone or as part of any tall ship parade. Imagine a replicated Hamilton leading a dozen tall ships into Hamilton Harbour. These vessels are immensely popular, as evidenced by the crowds any time the Tall Ships Parade comes to town.

I am not sure if Hamilton has the facilities to have this replica constructed, but perhaps Mohawk College could be a partner, or other trade schools. Otherwise, there are capable shops in the Maritimes. As Hamilton moves toward construction of a real City of Hamilton Museum, it is time to consider all aspects of the past. Hamilton’s major maritime history has so far been mostly neglected and any commemoration takes place on land, not afloat. The Haida is now in Hamilton, but actually has no connection with the city. Although the Hamilton and Scourge also have little connection beyond a name, they are least in municipal ownership and do relate to actual events in and around the city, including Lake Ontario.