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Hamilton and Scourge National Historic Site of Canada

Lake Ontario, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1976/06/15

Underwater image of the cannon on the Hamilton and Scourge wreck, 1982.; National Geographic, 82-1874, 1982.
Image of the cannon
Underwater image of the Hamilton and Scourge showing the figurehead, 1982.; National Geographic, 82-1990, 1982.
Showing the figurehead
Underwater image of the Hamilton and Scourge showing the side of the hull, 1982.; National Geographic, 82-1874, 1982.
Underwater image side of the hull

Other Name(s)

Hamilton and Scourge National Historic Site of Canada
Hamilton and Scourge
Hamilton et Scourge

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/12/23

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Hamilton and Scourge National Historic Site of Canada is located at the bottom of Lake Ontario 11 kilometres north of Port Dalhousie, near St. Catharines. The site is comprised of the wrecks of two American gunships, the Hamilton and the Scourge, which sank during the War of 1812. The ships are in a remarkably good condition, despite their initial sinking and despite some decay brought about by the passage of years at lake bottom. A sizeable debris field surrounds the two wrecks, and it is thought that the site contains numerous artifacts. The official recognition refers to a perimeter around the two shipwrecks in their existing spatial relationships.

Heritage Value

Hamilton and Scourge was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1976 because:
- they are rare examples of vessels of the War of 1812, of any type, that have survived to this day, and are in remarkable condition, and contain a vast historical treasure of shipboard articles.

The Hamilton and the Scourge were originally constructed as merchant schooners, but both were pressed into service by the Americans and modified for military purposes at the outbreak of the War of 1812. On the night of August 7-8, 1813, a sudden squall came over the American fleet stationed off Port Dalhousie, causing both ships to capsize and sink. Less than a quarter of the over 70 crew members aboard both vessels, survived. The loss of life was the greatest single loss of life on the Great Lakes during the entire war. The wrecks were discovered in their current location in 1979 and were purchased from the United States Government by the City of Hamilton. They have been the subject of several underwater archaeological investigations.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, October 2006.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- the location of the ships at the bottom of Lake Ontario 11 kilometres north of Port Dalhousie;
- the underwater archaeological remains of the two ships in their current condition and location, including the hull, fragments of the vessel and the surrounding debris field;
- the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains associated with the wreck, which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent, including all remains of a naval, military and personal nature.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1812/01/01 to 1812/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Canada and the World
Governing Canada
Military and Defence

Function - Category and Type



Battle Site

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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