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Where Did All the Cannons Go?

Hamilton Military Museum

Hamilton Military Museum - Cannon FAQ’s

What are they?

They are British, short-model, 24 pounder muzzle-loading gun barrels made of cast iron and they sat upon reproduction sea service carriages. Cannons are referred to by the size of shot that would fit down their muzzle, which means a 24 pounder gun could fire a cannonball weighing 24 pounds and it could travel up to 1,460 metres.

How old are the Cannons?

The cannons were constructed sometime between 1760 and 1820 as they bear the cypher (initials) of King George III (1760-1820). They are also engraved with dates (1844 and 1846 respectively) which actually represent re-borings of the original barrels which was a common practice at the time. Our files indicate they may have been re-bored to be 32 pounder guns.

What do they weigh?

The cannons are deceptively heavy for their size, each weighing over 2,300 pounds. Their weight is engraved on the barrels in the form of three numbers represented in hundredweights (112 pounds), quarter hundredweights (28 pounds) and miscellaneous pounds. This system may seem complicated, but what it means is that the cannon marked 20-3-14 weighs 2,338 pounds.

Where did they come from?

One was discovered in a City storage facility in 1977 and was moved to the stables at Dundurn. Its history previous to this is unknown. The property and Maintenance Department built a wooden carriage and trucks (wheels) for it and it was placed in front of Battery Lodge (which houses the Hamilton Military Museum) in 1978. The second cannon was relocated from the corner of King and Wellington Streets in 1980. They were accessioned into the collection of the Hamilton Military Museum in 1994.

Why were they located here?

In the late 1970s, these cannons and various other 19th and 20th-century artillery pieces were relocated to Dundurn Park from around the City in an attempt to create an ‘artillery park’ around the Military Museum. Many of these guns were originally brought to the City as part of the federal government’s War Trophy program after the First World War which disseminated pieces of artillery to cities across the country for community display.

Why were they removed?

They were relocated due to safety and conservation concerns. The barrels, which weigh over 2,300 pounds each, were mounted on wooden carriages which have started to deteriorate after years of exposure to the elements and the sheer weight of their load. While the carriages have been inspected regularly and repaired when necessary over the years, they have now reached a point of decay where new carriages will be required. Since they are very popular with visitors to Dundurn Park who like to sit and climb on them, this was a public safety concern.

Where did they go?

The cannons have been relocated to the Museum’s off-site storage area where they can be stored safely indoors.

When will they be returned?

Their return date is unknown at this point. Research must be carried out to determine the most suitable base for them taking into consideration public safety, historical accuracy, our ability to provide more interpretive context and historical information about them and available financial resources. In the meantime, they will be examined and maintained by the Conservator for Hamilton’s Civic Museums who will provide condition reports and long-term care recommendations.