Historically, the passing of time on board ship was marked by striking the ship's bell - first half hour/one bell ~ first hour/two bells ~ first hour and a half/three bells ~ second hour/four bells...and so on until the passage of four hours was marked by eight strokes of the bell and the beginning of a new four hour watch. Now-a-days in the RCN, the bell is used at Colours and as a baptismal font.
Below is a partial list the last known location of some of the bells for HMC ships that have been paid off. Over the years, when a ship was paid off, some bells went to the last CO (usually unofficially), other to the towns the ships were named after, some went to reserve units, legions and museums. Some ships had several bells and these may be held at more than one location. This list represents a small portion of the ship's bells in existence.
If you have any information on the location of a ship's bell please send me an email Please include the name of the ship, location of bell and a photo if possible. Photographs of names engraved on the bells or transcriptions of those names would be greatly appreciated as well.
As of 11 Feb 2020 there are 181 bells listed on this page of approximately 1000 from ships that served in the RCN.
Notes: (1) If I don't have a ship listed here, then I do not have any information on it's bells or their locations
(2) Locations for a bell are the last known location. Some may have been moved to new locations as Messes, Legions, Cadet Corps shut down or relocate.
(3) Not all pages with information on a ship's bell have photos.