HMS Wolfe (1813)

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A scene on Lake Ontario - United States sloop of war Gen. Pike, Commodore Chauncey, and the British sloop of war Wolfe, Sir James Lucas Yeo, preparing for action, September 28, 1813
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Wolfe
Builder: Kingston Royal Naval Dockyard
Launched: 1813
Renamed: HMS Montreal in 1814
Reclassified: Rebuilt as transport in 1815
Honours and
War of 1812.
Fate: Ordered broken up, then ordered sold, in 1831
Presumed rotted and sunk at Kingston,
Notes: Provincial Marine vessel
General characteristics
Class and type: sloop of war, altered to brig in 1814
Tons burthen: 637 tons
Notes: 20 gun sloop of war,

HMS Wolfe (later HMS Montreal, originally HMS Sir George Prevost) was a 20-gun freshwater sloop of war, launched at the Kingston Royal Naval Dockyard at Kingston, in Upper Canada, on 5 May 1813. She served with a crew of 220 in the British naval squadron on Engagements on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812.

After the outbreak of the war, the British Governor General of Canada, Lieutenant General Sir George Prevost ordered the construction of warships to match American ships being built at Sackett's Harbor, New York. One of the new ships laid down at Kingston was first named HMS Sir George Prevost; when launched, she was renamed HMS Wolfe.

The ship measured 637 tons, and was officially rated as having 24 guns, although rating systems of the time were notoriously loose, frequently omitting carronades. Wolfe was completed with one long 24-pounder and eight long 18-pounder guns, and four 68-pounder carronades and ten 32-pounder carronades. She had a crew of 220.

Wolfe was the flagship of the British naval commander on the Great Lakes, Commodore James Lucas Yeo. She took part in the Battle of Sackett's Harbor. After several indecisive clashes with the American squadron under Commodore Isaac Chauncey, she was badly damaged by the American ship USS General Pike on 28 August, being partly dismasted. She escaped into Burlington Bay at the western end of Lake Ontario. The Americans did not pursue, and Yeo was able to return to Kingston and make repairs.

During the winter of 1813-1814, Wolfe was renamed HMS Montreal and rearmed, with her original medley of guns being replaced by seven long 24-pounder and eighteen long 18-pounder guns. As the British had also completed two frigates during the winter, Montreal ceased to be the British flagship. She took part in the Raid on Fort Oswego, but there was no actual fighting between the rival squadrons during 1814.

After the end of the war, Montreal was recommissioned as a transport, armed with only six cannon. She was laid up in 1817. By 1832, when the dockyard at Kingston was closed and the ships sold off, she had long since been hulked.

A sister ship, HMS Isaac Brock, had been set on fire on the slipway by the British at the Battle of York, to prevent her being captured by the Americans.

A wreck, tentatively identified being that of HMS Montreal by Parks Canada in 2006, lies in 60 feet of water near the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. GPS N44.13.386 W76.27.631 It has been known by locals for over 20 years as Gaunthier's Wreck.


  • David Lyon & Rif Winfield (2004). The Sail & Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815-1889. London. ISBN 1-86176-032-9. 
  • Rif Winfield (2005). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. London. ISBN 1-86176-246-1. 
  • David Lyon (1997). The Sailing Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy, Built, Purchased and Captured, 1688-1860. London. ISBN 0-85177-864-X. 
  • Robert Malcomson (2001). Warships of the Great Lakes: 1754-1834. Annapolis. ISBN 1-55750-910-7. 
  • Robert Malcomson (1998). Lords of the Lake. Annapolis. ISBN 1-55750-532-2. 
  • Jonathan Moore (2006). Archaeological and Historical Investigations of Three War of 1812 Wrecks at Kingston, Ontario : HMS St. Lawrence, HMS Kingston and HMS Burlington : Report for Province of Ontario Licence to Conduct Archaeological Exploration or Fieldwork 1999-096 at Sites BbGd-6, BbGc-45 and BbGc-46. Ottawa. ISBN 0-9781712-0-9. 
  • The War of 1812 Magazine
  • Ken R. Macpherson, "List of Vessels Employed on British Naval Service on the Great Lakes, 1755-1875," Ontario History,vol. LV (1963): 173-79.

See also