For Posterity's Sake         

A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project


Gunshield and Other Shipboard Art

on Ships of the RCN


Gunshield art on ships of the RCN became prominent during WW2 particularly on the corvettes that served in the RCN.  Gunshield art varied greatly from ship to ship - incorporating crests of towns they bore the name for, cartoon characters, pin-up girls, etc.  Little record was kept of these works of art and much has been lost to time.  David Freeman, a retired Lieutenant Commander whose father and uncle served in the RCN throughout the Second World War, has written a book on the subject - Designs of Distinction - which helps fill in the knowledge gap on this portion of RCN heritage and history.


Not to repeat David's work, this page will be for artwork from ships currently in commission in the RCN - whether it is gunshield artwork, or artwork painted on mess deck doors and bulkheads.  For ships of the RCN no longer in commission, images of their artwork will be displayed on their individual pages on this site.


If you have any photos of the gunsield art on HMC ships or artwork throughout the ship that you would like to share on For Posterity's Sake, please send me an EMAIL.


An article from the Crowsnest magazine - Gunshield Art and Heraldry for HMC Ships









Crew members of HMCS CALGARY standby on the focs'le as the ship departs Sasebo harbour, Japan during Operation PROJECTON on November 27, 2018.

DND Photo / Canadian Forces Combat Camera

Photo: Leading Seaman Mike Goluboff, MARPAC Imaging Services ET11-2018-0475-177




HMCS CALGARY 335 honours her namesake, the WW2 corvette HMCS CALGARY K231(left), with her gunshield art








Current gunshield art on HMCS CHARLOTTETOWN 339

Courtesy of Jessie Chin-Yet


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photo 2

photo 3

(1) Gunshield art on HMCS CHARLOTTETOWN - date unknown  (2) HMCS CHARLOTTETOWN heading into some big waves during Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR with, Standing NATO maritime Group 1 in the Mediterranean Sea on 07 Feb 2012. Photo by Cpl Ronnie Kinnie, Formation Imaging Services, Halifax  (3) Artwork on the CCR door of HMCS CHARLOTTETOWN. Courtesy of Jesse Longmire








HMCS FREDERICTON enters United States Naval Station, Mayport, Florida, at the end of Spartan Warrior, on 03 Nov 2016


Credit: Tony Chand, Formation Imaging Services


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(1) HMCS FREDERICTON firing her 57mm gun in the Arabian Sea - 2010. Photographer: Cpl Peter Reed  (2) Flag Locker covers on HMCS FREDERICTON - Jul 2019. Courtesy of Jesse Longmire








Members of the Royal Canadian Navy onboard HMCS HALIFAX, flagship of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two, prepare to depart Rota, Spain during Operation REASSURANCE in the Atlantic Ocean on July 30, 2019.

(Source: Canadian Armed Forces Facebook page)



HMCS HALIFAX in the North Atlantic, 2007


Courtesy of Gerald Doutre, CPO1, RCN







HMCS MONTREAL transiting the Norwegian Sea - Oct 2017


The ship's gunshield art is different than the ship’s badge. The badge incorporates aspects of the city of Montréal. The badge depicts a stylized mountain bordering a river, and superimposed upon the mountain, a coronet of fleur-delis and maple leaves. The river represents the St. Lawrence River; the mountain, Mount Royal, in the midst of the city.


The gunshield art combines elements from the ship’s badge and that of HMCS MONTRÉAL K319, a River class frigate that served with the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. On 17 December 1944 she rescued survivors from German submarine U 1209 which struck rocks in the neighbourhood of Wolf Rock (southwest of Land's End) and sank shortly afterwards. U 1209 carried a complement of 51 of whom 42 survived. The Commanding Officer Oberleutnant zur See Hülsenbeck, died of a heart attack on board HMCS MONTRÉAL K319.



The story behind the gunshield art:  I was the Exchange (Canteen) Manager on HMCS MONTRÉAL, and it was coming up to her 10th anniversary.  I held a contest for designing a badge for the 10th anniversary in hopes of drumming up some sales for the canteen.  I submitted my design as well ..... and it won!!  


I was planning on selling the artwork as stickers in the canteen - so I hired the graphic artists at Golden Silkscreening to touch up my work ..... and then to another company to have stickers made.  While I was talking with the company making the stickers, I heard that Combat wanted the artwork on the ship's gun and the Air Det wanted it for their engine covers on the Sea King.  The company was able to size up the badges for the Sea King and gun mount.


The badge was unveiled on our 10th anniversary during a trip to Montréal, Quebec.


Submitted by PO Mitch Cormier




(1) PO2 Mitch Cormier standing beside his gunshield art design   (2) HMCS Montreal's Sea King proudly displays the ships gunshield art on her engine covers  (3) PO2 Karl Melchoir stands beside the badge that is mounted on the door to the Chiefs and POs.  PO Melchoir created the mould for casting the badges.








The gunshield art on HMCS OTTAWA 341 (4th of name) makes reference to her heritage and the WW2 destroyer HMCS OTTAWA H31 (2nd of name).


HMCS OTTAWA H31 formerly HMS GRIFFIN, was transferred to the RCN after the loss of HMCS OTTAWA H60.  On 20 Mar 1943, she was commissioned at Southampton as HMCS GRIFFIN. On 10 Apr 1943, despite the objections of her captain, she was renamed HMCS OTTAWA.









HMCS Regina and NRU Asterix at sea during Operation ARTEMIS

DND-RCN photo / Crown copyright 2019




The crew of HMCS REGINA 334 is proud to unveil the new gunshield art, a homage to the first HMCS REGINA and our close ties to the RCMP. The first HMCS REGINA K234 (left) was a Flower class corvette sunk in action on the 8th of August 1944. Thirty of her crew died, but will be in our hearts - Lest We Forget - 11 Nov 2018

(Source:  HMCS REGINA's facebook page)




HMCS REGINA's gunshield art - Persian Gulf deployment 2003







Over the winter, ST JOHN'S Above Warfare Water Officer petitioned the ship's company for submissions of gun shield art. The design selected was drawn by SLt E.J.S. Anglin, coloured by Lt(N) J.C. Olivier, and transferred to the 57mm gun over the course of several weeks in June. Lt(N) Olivier, a skilled painter and artist in his everyday life, used marine-grade oil based paint and with the help of SLt Anglin and SLt Kowalski, transferred the iconic lion, ramparts and black rock of St. John's to the back of the gun (Source: HMCS ST JOHN'S facebook page - 19 Jul 2016)





A couple mess deck doors on HMCS ST JOHN'S




When HMCS ST JOHN'S visited her namesake port early this summer she was sporting brand new gunshield art on her forward gun. Earlier in the spring a design contest was held among the ship’s company. The winning design was painted on just hours before St. John’s came through the Narrows. The accompany- ing picture was taken while the smell of paint was still in the air. St. John’s has promised us a regulation two feet by two feet version for the Nest. Fredericton and Halifax have also promised artwork. Let’s see which will be the first on the wall. The race is on! (Source: The Scuttlebutt Crow's Nest Officers' Club newsletter - Aug 2008)







HMCS TORONTO in the Mediterranean conducting Force Integration Training with Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 - Feb 2019

Photo credit: MCpl Berger / LTZ1 van Pijkeren




HMCS TORONTO conducts a RAS - Oct 2014




Operation ARTEMIS Jun 2013




Ship's new 57mm gun Caricature painted by Lt(N) Walker, CSEO, and LS Margaret Natynczyk, Med Tech, 17 Mar 2013 while at Victoria, Mahe Island, Seychelles during Operation ARTEMIS


Operation ARTEMIS is the Canadian Forces (CF) participation in maritime security and counter-terrorism operations in the Arabian Sea region as part of multinational Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, one of the three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). CMF is a 27 nation naval partnership, which exists to promote security, stability and prosperity across approximately 2.5 million square miles of international waters in the Middle East, which encompass some of the world’s most important shipping lanes. The presence of HMCS TORONTO in the Arabian Sea region also gives Canada the flexibility and capability to respond quickly to emerging crises in the region. 


Photograph by Corporal Malcolm Byers, HMCS TORONTO 2013 DND-MDN Canada







HMCS VANCOUVER conducts as TOW EX with HMCS REGINA - 29 Nov 2018

photo credit:  LCdr Erickson


The gunshield art of HMCS VANCOUVER 331 (3rd of name) honours her predecessor the WW2 corvette HMCS Vancouver K240 (2nd of name) whose gunshield art was also made into a jacket patch for her crew








HMCS VILLE DE QUEBEC 332 - Gunshield art 2019

Photographer / Courtesy of Jessie Chin-Yet




HMCS VILLE DE QUEBEC’s CH-148 Cyclone, Avalanche, conducts a foc’sle transfer while sailing in the Atlantic Ocean during Operation REASSURANCE on January 12, 2019.

 Photo: MCpl Andre Maillet, MARPAC Imaging Services







HMCS WINNIPEG's gunshield art - Jun 2017


With more of an artistic flair, the gunshield art on HMCS WINNIPEG uses the elements used in the jacket patch of her namesake, the Algerian class minesweeper, HMCS WINNIPEG J337




HMCS WINNIPEG - view from the bridge. "Rebel 36" in action. - Mar 2017

(Source: HMCS Winnipeg's facebook page)








Mine Hunting Marmot gunshield art on the 40mm Bofor of HMCS NANAIMO

Courtesy of Sean MacUisdin


Note: by 2014 all the MCDVs had the Bofors removed







Gunshield art on the 40mm Bofor on HMCS WHITEHORSE - circa 2007


Note: by 2014 all the MCDVs had the Bofors removed




The gunshield art was painted by MS.ET Chris Fraser and P1.BN Travis Gray (Buffer)

Courtesy of CPO2 Tim Cotey