Full name: Her Majesty's Canadian Ship Star
Motto: "Diligentia" / "Diligence"
HMCS Star from 1923 - Present.
Though Star's current manifestation stems from the formation of a ship's half company during the RCNVR's birth in the 1920s, there has been a naval presence in the city of Hamilton since the War of 1812. While the name Star was given to a total of at least five Royal Navy, the most direct connection to the name was the brig HMS Star launched in April 1813 serving in several actions during the War of 1812. In total, the brig boasted a compliment of fourteen guns of varying calibre. The location of Star is also tied to another key event in Canadian history. During the 1838 Rebellions, William Lyon MacKenzie took control over Navy Island in Niagara. Captain Andrew Drew raised a volunteer group from Hamilton and wrestled the island from MacKenzie's control. This group was disbanded shortly after the operation.
Another Volunteer Marine company was formed in the 1860s as tensions with the United States Rose as a result of the American Civil War. In 1863, the Hamilton Naval Company was charged with the task of defending Hamilton Harbour and protecting the city. The Company trained in a local hall and was provided with a Royal Navy steamer (HMS Magnet) for harbour patrols. With the Civil War concluded and the Fenian threat abating, the company dispersed in 1868.
With the 1923 re-organisation, the newly-formed Hamilton Half Company was temporarily housed in the local Navy League Headquarters; later moving to a former factory in 1935. Shortly after the unit was re-titled Star in 1941, it acquired a purpose built facility in 1943. This building served as the unit's base until Star moved to its current home, a state of the art 'Stone frigate' in 1997.
Unit Accomplishments: In total, the Hamilton Naval Reserve enlisted 229 officers, 6,976 ratings and 285 WRENS. Unit members actively participated in every theatre of the war from convoy duty in the North Atlantic to the invasion of Europe. In total, 54 men from the unit lost their lives in the conflict. Members of Star acquitted themselves well, with Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Portee, Torpedoman Dan Gearing and Signaller Eugene Tobin all awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. In addition, Lt (N) John Savory twice won the Order of the British Empire for gallantry in action. After the war, Yeoman of Signals F.R.M Holk, CPO W.F. Carey and Telegraphist T.H. Vlachos received the British Empire medal for outstanding service. The war's end did not bring quite times for the unit. From 1951 to 1968, Star was the national headquarters for Naval Reserve training and administration.
In 2002, HMCS Star was honoured to have the HMCS Haida permanently moored alongside the unit. Haida is one of the most renowned vessels in Canadian naval history and is the last surviving Tribal class Destroyer from the Second World War. Besides these honours, Star remains very active in the community supporting events such as shore cleanups, food drives and yearly participation in Remembrance Day ceremonies and adopted Eastwood Park.
For further reading please see: Williamson, Commander Robert J. HMCS Star: A Naval Reserve History, 50th Anniversary Edition. Hamilton: Superior Printery, 1991.