HMCS Haida National Historic Site of Canada

Hamilton, Ontario
Overview of the HMCS Haida. © Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs Canada
General view
© Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs Canada
General view of HMCS Haida, 2003. © Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs CanadaOverview of the HMCS Haida. © Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs Canada
Address : 650 Catharine Street North, Hamilton, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1984-11-23
  • 1942 to 1942 (Construction)
  • 1943 to 1963 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Royal Canadian Navy  (Organization)
  • Royal Navy  (Architect)
  • Royal Navy  (Builder)
Other Name(s):
  • HMCS Haida  (Designation Name)


Existing plaque: Hamilton Harbour on dock beside HMCS Haida *658 Catharine Street North, Hamilton, Ontario

HMCS Haida is the last of the Tribal Class destroyers which saw heavy action with the Australian, British and Canadian navies during World War II. Built for the Royal Canadian Navy at Newcastle, England, in 1942, this ship served on the frigid Murmansk run and in clearing the English Channel for the Normandy invasion. She helped sink 14 enemy vessels. Haida was recommissioned in 1952 and served two tours of duty with the United Nations in Korea, taking part in shore bombardment, blockades and attacks on trains.

Description of Historic Place

HMCS Haida is a restored Tribal Class destroyer moored at Pier 9 in Hamilton harbour. Retired from active service, it is now open to the public.

Heritage Value

HMCS Haida was designated a national historic site in 1984:
— to recognize her role in naval combat,
— because she is the last of the Tribal Class Destroyers.

The heritage value of HMCS Haida relates to the design as a Tribal Class destroyer which was "improved" for use in Canadian waters, and in her impressive record of service. HMCS Haida was built for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) at Newcastle, England in 1942 following a design developed by the Royal Navy. She was launched at Newcastle, England in 1942 and was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy in 1943, after which she saw heavy action mainly with the British navy during World War II in the Arctic, the English Channel, off Normandy, and the Bay of Biscay. The Haida was converted to a destroyer-escort in 1951-52 and then saw two tours of duty with the United Nations in Korea. From 1954, she continued in the RCN, participating in numerous NATO and UN activities during the Cold War until she was decommissioned in 1963. Saved by private citizens, she was brought to the Toronto waterfront and was acquired by the Province of Ontario, becoming an attraction at Ontario Place. In 2002 she was acquired and repaired by Parks Canada, refurbished and moved to Hamilton harbour where she is open to the public. She has been called Canada's most famous warship.

Source: Historic Site and Monuments Board of Canada, 1984 Minutes; Commemorative Integrity Statement, 13 August 1999.

Character-Defining Elements

Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
— the completeness of its hull, superstructure, machinery and auxiliary systems;
— the legibility of her massing and form as a classic destroyer (her lines, her deck sheer, the rake on her funnels);
— the quality of her construction evident in her strengthened "improved" design and the transverse frame and riveting technology;
— the integrity of her construction and finishing materials, her original main and auxiliary machinery;
— the surviving unity of the vessel, its equipment, and its machinery seen in such details as its masts, its aerials, its built-in furnishings and fittings;
— evidence of the evolution of her design and furnishing to reflect her conversion to a Destroyer-Escort, and in particular her ordnance;
— her functional division of space, both interior and exterior;
— evidence of her combat experience such as patches over shell holes on the deck;
— evidence of her life at sea such as graffiti on the mess decks, and signs of use on the fittings of her mess decks and officers' cabins.