The general policy in the RCN was to name destroyers after rivers and minesweepers after bays. However, early in the Second World War, it was decided to name new vessels after Canadian cities and towns, generally in order of descending population, while ensuring that the names were not already in use or similar to ones in use in other Commonwealth navies.
HMCS HAMILTON was an American Wickes Class destroyer, the former USS KALK. She was commissioned into the RCN in 1941 and served for two years on escort duties before being assigned to HMCS CORNWALLIS as a training ship. She was not, however, named after Hamilton, Ontario.
American ships transferred to the RN were given names common to towns in both the United States and Great Britain. As KALK was transferred first to the RN, she was named after the town of Hamilton, near Glasgow in Scotland or Hamilton, Bermuda and Hamilton, near Cincinnati, Ohio.[i]
The River Class frigate, HMCS WENTWORTH, seems like a good candidate for a namesake ship, as Hamilton is located in Wentworth County and the city was part of the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth from 1974 to 2001. Alas, Wentworth was a circumlocution for Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Since there was an HMS DARTMOUTH (Britannia Royal Naval College), the ship was named after Nova Scotia’s Lieutenant Governor, Sir John Wentworth, an early resident of the town.
WENTWORTH was built at Yarrows in Esquimalt (the locks of the Great Lakes were too small for frigates so all had to be built on the west coast, the St. Lawrence, or the East Coast). Commissioned on 7 December 1943, she transitted to Halifax but served for less than two years before being paid off on 10 October 1945 and sold for scrapping in Sydney, Cape Breton in 1947.
Named after the Town of Dundas, immediately west of Hamilton, HMCS DUNDAS (K229) was a Flower Class corvette commissioned on 1 April 1942 , having been built at Victoria Machinery Ltd. After short service on the west coast, she came to Halifax and served two years on convoy escort before being paid off in 1945, and finally scrapped in Hamilton in 1946.
In 2006, Hamilton City Council passed a motion by then Councillor, later Mayor and as of 2015 Member of Parliament for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, Bob Bratina and Councillor Phil Bruckler, asking the Federal government and the Department of National Defence to consider naming a ship after the City of Hamilton.
“WHEREAS, the City of Hamilton has one of the most distinguished naval histories in Canada, dating back to the War of 1812;
AND WHEREAS, during the Rebellion of 1837, Lt. Colonel Allan McNab, Commander of the Third Gore Regiment, and Captain Andrew Drew RN raised a Hamilton Naval Brigade from former Royal Navy and Merchant Sailors from the Port of Hamilton; who succeeded in destroying a ship supplying rebel forces and disbanding the rebel force, for which Lt. Colonel Allan McNab was knighted;
AND WHEREAS the Hamilton Navy Brigade was the first group of volunteers under orders of the Canadian Government to sink an enemy ship;
AND WHEREAS Hamilton was the second city in Canada to meet the requirements for formation of a Company of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR);
AND WHEREAS the first Naval Officer Training program was initiated in Hamilton in 1942 and has since spread to every major city in Canada;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Council be requested to send a letter to the Federal Government and the Department of National Defence requesting that consideration be given to the naming of any new Navy ships, soon to be built, after the City of Hamilton.
[i] David J. Freeman, Canadian Warship Names, (St. Catharines, Vanwell Publishing Limited, 2000), 223 & Ken Macpherson & Ron Barrie, The Ships of Canada’s Naval Forces 1910-2002, (St. Catharines, Vanwell Publishing Limited, 2002), 56
[ii] Minutes of Hamilton City Council, 12 July 2006