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.

Captain John Coote – a sailor or a soldier?

19 December 2015

Cootes Paradise graphic

Almost everyone knows that Cootes Paradise, the wetland at the west end of Hamilton Harbour, is named after Captain John Coote but there seems to be some disagreement about who he was.  Today’s edition of the Hamilton Spectator, in a feature called The Namesakes Challenges, states that he was a naval officer.  McMaster University website on Cootes Paradise agrees but the Royal Botanical Gardens is conflicted with one page calling him a naval officer, one page calling him an army officer and a third compromising by calling him a military officer.

Dundas Museum & Archives has him as a soldier stationed at Fort George, which was not built till 1796 after Thomas Coote had died.  Another website claimed that he was stationed at Fort Henry.  The one in Ontario was not built till 1812.  The one in West Virgina was built in time but neither would have been convenient for a hunting trip to Dundas!  Other sources claim that he was naval officer on leave from his army duties.  Maybe some people don’t know the difference between a soldier and a sailor!

I have to side with Margaret Houghton, who, in her Hamilton Street Names:  An Illustrated History (James Lorimer & Co, Toronto, 2002) claims that he was an army officer, first in the 8th or King’s Regiment and later in the 34th Cumberland Regiment, stationed at Niagara, which would have been Fort Niagara in what is now New York State and that he arrived there in 1782.  There were few Royal Navy officers in our area prior to the war of 1812 while there were many British army officers.

Either way, it raises questions.  Fort Niagara had only been captured from the French in 1759 and the American Revolutionary war lasted from 1775 to 1783.  It’s hard to reconcile those turbulent times with the image of a bucolic Captain Coote, be he sailor or soldier, out duck hunting in the wetlands of Dundas.

Hamilton & Scourge

Two American topsail schooners, the USS HAMILTON & SCOURGE, part of Commodore Chauncey’s squadron, sank in a sudden squall on 8 August, 1813, off Port Dalhousie, with the loss of 53 men. The two ships lie under 300 feet of water in Lake Ontario.  The City of Hamilton, which acquired title to the wrecks from the United States Navy in 1978, will commemorate the 202nd anniversary of the event at a ceremony on Sunday at 11:00 at the Hamilton and Scourge Naval Memorial Garden in Confederation Park.