Ontario's Historical Plaques 

Discover Ontario's history as told through its plaques

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Hamilton & Scourge

Hamilton & Scourge

Photos and transcription by contributor Wayne Adam - Posted August, 2014

Hamilton & Scourge

Plaque Location

The City of Hamilton
Near Edgewater Pavilion in Confederation Park

Coordinates: N 43 14.914 W 79 45.202


Plaque Text

The wrecks of the Hamilton and Scourge are rare examples of vessels used during the War of 1812. Designed as merchant schooners, both were converted into American warships once hostilities began and each played a role in the capture of Fort George on May 27, 1813. While stationed off Port Dalhousie, they capsized and sank with a loss of over 50 lives during a sudden squall in the early morning of August 8, 1813. Discovered 90 metres below the surface of Lake Ontario in 1973, these remarkably preserved wrecks are outstanding archaeological records of shipbuilding and naval warfare of their time.


War of 1812


Hamilton Plaques

Here are the visitors' comments for this page.

> Posted March 27, 2016
Are these actual burial sites or commemorative burial sites?
Linda Seller lindaseller101@gmail.com

> Posted November 3, 2014
The most direct driveway leading to these plaques off Confederation Drive may be closed, reserved for groups which use a nearby picnic shelter. There are "No Parking" signs along Confederation Drive itself. If auto access is closed, park in the lot immediately to the east, and walk back across a footbridge to the site. The plaques are also accessible from Hamilton's Waterfront Trail.
A blue plaque, "War of 1812 Naval Memorial Garden", next to the federal one was erected by the Hamilton-Scourge Project, and speaks about the cemetery plaques nearby at what is not a cemetery. Here is the text of that plaque:
"We honor here fifty-three sailors who lost their lives when their ships, HAMILTON and SCOURGE, capsized during a storm in the early morning hours of Sunday, 8th August 1813. These two armed merchant schooners lie in 90 metres of water, 30 kilometres northeast of this site, intact and perfectly preserved with their guns and equipment still in place. A replica of the foremast of SCOURGE is flanked by fifty-three plaques similar to those in Allied military cemeteries throughout the world."
Subsequent studies have shown that the ships' remains are now encrusted with exotic quagga mussels, and may not be "perfectly preserved". The invasive mussels do not eat wood, but do affect the local food chain and generally increase water clarity (and light penetration). It would be good to know if these changes affect biology that, in turn, may affect the ships' remains.
This national historic site is located at N 43 18.450, W 79 18.436, which is about 10.5 km northwest of the Port Weller lighthouse in St. Catharines. It's curious, then, that the plaques and memorial garden are in Hamilton, about three times further from the site than locations in St. Catharines. Perhaps it has to do with the City of Hamilton being the current owner of the wrecks (after being transferred from the US Navy to Ontario's provincial museum). The name of the USS Hamilton is coincidental. The ship was named for US Navy Secretary Paul Hamilton, after being named Diana by her first owners. -Wayne

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