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Active 1923 to present
Country Canada Canada
Branch  Royal Canadian Navy
Type Stone frigate
Role Reserve unit
Size Approx. 250
Garrison/HQ 650 Catharine St N, Hamilton, Ontario L8L 4V7
Motto(s) Diligentia (Diligence)
Colours Royal Blue and Gold
Anniversaries Battle of the Atlantic
Equipment 24 ft (7.3 m) RHIB (ZH-733 CDO)
Decorations Defence of Canada Banner 1812
Battle honours
  • Dover, 1652
  • Martinique, 1809
  • Guadeloupe, 1810
Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Stephen Churm

HMCS Star is a Royal Canadian Navy Reserve Division (NRD) located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.[1] Dubbed a stone frigate, HMCS Star is a land-based naval establishment.


HMCS Star is the Royal Canadian Navy's oldest Naval Reserve Division being commissioned first on 31 January 1923 as the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) Hamilton Half Company and then on 1 November 1941 as HMCS Star.[2]

Named after a Royal Navy 14-gun brig launched at Kingston, Ontario on 20 July 1813, HMS Lord Melville/Star, the name Star honors the Royal Navy's presence on Lake Ontario and the defense of Canada during the War of 1812.[3]


Naval activity in Hamilton Harbour can be traced as far back as the middle of the 18th century when ships of the British Provincial Marine plied Lake Ontario conducting coastal protection operations.

During the Rebellions of 1837, a naval militia from Hamilton ignited a diplomatic crisis, known as the Caroline Affair, when the Hamiltonians captured a rebel supply vessel, SS Caroline, killing an American crew member and then burning the ship before sending it over Niagara Falls.[4][5]

With the passing of the 1846 Militia Act by the Colonial Government, the Hamilton Volunteer Marine Company was stood up.[6] Seven years later, on 31 January 1862, the Hamilton Volunteer Naval Company was stood up under the command of Captain Thomas Harbottle and Lieutenant George P. Malcomson.[5][7]

As the American Civil War ended, Fenian cross-border raids saw the Hamilton Volunteer Naval Company called out on short periods of active status guarding the city and manning steamboats on Lake Ontario.[6] For their service during the Fenian Raids, Hamilton's naval volunteers were awarded the Canada General Service Medal with Fenian Raid 1866 bar.[8][9]

With the passage of a Militia Act of 1868 in Parliament, the Naval Companies of Garden Island, Toronto, Hamilton, Dunnville and Port Stanley were requested to signal their intention to remain active. The Hamilton unit failed to meet the February 1869 deadline and therefore phased itself and Canada’s first, formal naval reserve out of existence.[10]


When the Royal Canadian Navy was formed on 4 May 1910, there was no corresponding naval reserve. In 1914, the Royal Navy Canadian Volunteer Reserve (RNCVR) was stood up with minimal government support.

In 1916, the Hamilton Committee was formed to recruit sailors overseas division of the RNCVR. The Hamilton Committee included well know Hamiltonians, such as Hamilton city Alderman Captain George J. Guy and John H. Collinson, the first Headmaster of Highfield School for Boys.[11]


On 31 January 1923, Privy Council Order #139 established the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) and on 15 March 1923 Lieutenant Ralph H. Yeates was appointed as its first commanding officer of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) Hamilton Half Company.[12][13]

Initially, the Hamilton Half Company shared offices with the Navy League in the Imperial Building on the corner of Main Street East & Hughson Street South in Hamilton. On 2 November 1923, the Half Company moved into the W. Grant Sail Loft on the corner of Bay Street North and Burlington Streets, sharing the building with Sea Cadets who had been formed six years earlier. On 2 July 1935, the Hamilton Half Company moved to the Williamson & Company Vinegar Works building at 41 Stuart Street, between Bay & MacNab were it stayed until 1943.[14][15]


On 1 November 1941, the Hamilton Half Company's was commissioned as HMCS Star on the dockyards of Burlington Bay, and became a major recruiting depot and wartime barracks training personnel for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS). As late as 14 October 1941, the unit was considered to be called HMCS Brant, but the name was changed, likely to avoid confusion with a recently launched corvette, HMCS Brantford.[14]

To accommodate the growing unit, on 1 February 1943 the Department of National Defence purchased 2.04 hectares (5 acres) near Eastwood Park from the City of Hamilton. On 24 April 1943, the foundations were laid for a new HMCS Star building, with the opening occurring six months later.[16] Intended as a prototype for Naval Reserve structures, the building demonstrated good craftsmanship and handling of materials.[16] At this time, HMCS Star had a strength of approximately one thousand personnel with 681 in trades training, 281 undergoing basic training and 56 Officers.[14][17]

Between 1941 and 1945, HMCS Star enlisted and trained 7,490 officers, men, and women for service during the Second World War.[18][14]


The Cold War was a very active era for HMCS Star, standing up a sub-unit (tender) located in Kitchener, Ontario between 1954–1964, in addition to its location at Hamilton.[19]

In 1952, HMCS Star's importance as a naval training facility was also bolstered by the establishment of the Great Lakes Training Centre (Fleet School Hamilton), making Hamilton the summer home to thousands of naval reservists from all over Canada.[20]

In 1953, HMCS Star gained another neighbor, HMCS Patriot. A stone frigate transplanted from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Established now in Hamilton, HMCS Patriot housed the Commanding Officer, Naval Divisions (COND), the forerunner to today's Royal Canadian Naval Reserve Command Headquarters.

Previously based in Toronto during the Second World War under the title Commanding Officer, Reserve Divisions (CORD), COND now supervised 21 naval divisions across Canada and directed the summer operations of the Great Lakes fleet reserve training ships, HMCS Porte St Louis, HMCS Porte St. Jean, and former air force supply vessel HMCS Scatari, permanently stationed at HMCS Star for use by the reservists.[21][22]

In 1953, a Naval Reserve Air Squadron (No. 1 Training Air Group) was established at HMCS York in Toronto sending HMCS Star one Hawker Hurricane and two Supermarine Seafire aircraft to be housed at RCAF Station Hamilton, now known as the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport. Not given its own squadron, due to its close proximity to Toronto, the HMCS Star crew maintained a support unit for ground crew and maintenance conducting joint training with HMCS York at RCAF Station Downsview in Toronto.[22]

With the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces in the mid-1960s, significant changes came to HMCS Star.

In 1964, The Great Lakes Training Centre was disbanded, as was the naval air arm maintenance unit.

In 1967, The Hamilton Service Battalion and The Hamilton Medical Company, later renamed 23 Service Battalion and 23 Medical Company, took over HMCS Patriot / COND building after the closure of their Burlington Street Armoury in September of that year.

In 1969, the base now called Canadian Forces Reserve Barracks Hamilton was placed under control of CFB Toronto, reducing the physical size of the base. As such HMCS Star's sports field was turned over to the City of Hamilton and renamed Eastwood Park.


On 27 September 1997, HMCS Star officially opened their new state-of-the-art building, replacing all of the original World War II-era buildings that had housed the Division since its commissioning in 1941.

Today, HMCS Star is the home to over 200 naval reservists and generates trained individuals and teams for Royal Canadian Navy's domestic and international operations, while at the same time supporting the Canadian Armed Forces efforts to connect with Canadians through the maintenance of a broad national presence.[23]

Battle honours[edit]

For the bicentennial of the War of 1812, HMCS Star was awarded the Defence of Canada Banner, commemorating the participation of namesake ship HMS Lord Melville/Star in that conflict.[24]


Description: Azure an estoile Or charged with a maple leaf Gules.[25]

Significance: The device used for the badge is an "estoile" or heraldic star. The red maple leaf, an emblem of Canada, indicates that the "star" pertains to Canada.[25]

HMCS Haida – National Historic Site[edit]

HMCS Haida

In 2003, the Second World War destroyer, HMCS Haida, a National Historic Site run by Parks Canada, was berthed at Pier 9, on Hamilton Harbour, directly alongside HMCS Star. The event took place on the 60th anniversary of the ship's commissioning into the Royal Canadian Navy.[26]

On 30 August 2003, CFRB Hamilton became the new home for HMCS Haida, the last of the eight Tribal-class destroyers built for the Royal Canadian Navy between 1942 and 1946. HMCS Haida had been moored as a floating museum in Toronto Harbour since 1965.


  1. ^ [1] Archived February 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Chronology of Canadian Naval Reserve Divisions". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  3. ^ "Unit's Portal (Home)". 2012-03-01. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-11. 
  4. ^ Morton, Desmond. "Remember the Caroline: The Temptations of Unilateralism". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  5. ^ a b Navy, Government of Canada, National Defence, Royal Canadian. "Royal Canadian Navy – News and Operations – Article View | LINK – October 2016 | An evening to remember…". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  6. ^ a b "Early Days". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  7. ^ "The Hamilton Naval Company 1862–1869 & The Fenians". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  8. ^ "Canada General Service Medal, Seaman John S. McLeod, Hamilton Naval Brigade – North America". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  9. ^ "The Hamilton Naval Company 1862–1869 & The Fenians". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ "Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve (RNCVR)". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  12. ^ Gimblett, Richard H.; Hadley, Michael L. (2010-11-16). Citizen Sailors: Chronicles of Canada's Naval Reserve, 1910–2010. Dundurn. ISBN 9781459711600. 
  13. ^ "Security Check Required". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  14. ^ a b c d "H.M.C.S. STAR". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  15. ^ WAHC. "Williamson & Company Vinegar Works | Workers’ City". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  16. ^ a b " –". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  17. ^ Record, The. "They kept the sea lanes open". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  18. ^ " – Democracy at War – Hamilton, Ontario, a City at War – Canada and the War". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  19. ^ "Chronology of Canadian Naval Reserve Divisions". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  20. ^ Gimblett, Richard H.; Hadley, Michael L. (2010-11-16). Citizen Sailors: Chronicles of Canada's Naval Reserve, 1910–2010. Dundurn. ISBN 9781459705333. 
  21. ^ Naval Headquarters (n.d.). "The University Naval Training Divisions" (PDF). Naval Historical Section – via Naval Headquarters, Ottawa. 
  22. ^ a b Williamson, Robert (1991). HMCS STAR – A Naval Reserve History. Hamilton. 
  23. ^ "HMCS NCSM Star". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  24. ^ Defence, Government of Canada, National. "National Defence | Canadian Armed Forces | News Release | The Government of Canada Honours Canadian Soldiers and Sailors Who Fought in the War of 1812". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  25. ^ a b "Canadian Forces Naval Reserve & shore based training facilities – Military Badges, Crests, Flags & Seals – Military Clipart". Retrieved 2017-03-29. 
  26. ^ "Parks Canada – News Releases and Backgrounders". Retrieved 2017-03-31.