The “River” Class frigate, HMCS ANTIGONISH, was laid down in the yards of Yarrows Ltd., Esquimalt, B.C., on 2 October 1943, launched on 1 March 1944 and commissioned on 4 July 1944. The ship was named in honour of the university town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
ANTIGONISH left Esquimalt on 28 July for passage to Halifax via the Panama Canal. She arrived in the east coast port on 22 August 1944. After carrying out “work-up” exercises off Bermuda in October, she returned to Halifax in November to be allocated to the frigate Escort Group-16 as a replacement for one of its members, HMCS MAGOG, damaged by an acoustic torpedo in the St. Lawrence River. Operating out of Halifax from 20 November 1944 to 23 February 1945, ANTIGONISH assisted in supporting at least twenty-three convoys or portions of them and in providing close escort for at least two. In addition, she had been involved in endless patrols and in many investigations of U-boat sightings and contacts.
On 8 March 1945, the group of five frigates, led by the Senior Officer in HMCS SPRINGHILL, sailed for the United Kingdom. Next month, the frigates patrolled the Irish Sea, supporting numerous convoys and attacking several submarine contacts. In mid-April, they split up, KIRKLAND LAKE and ANTIGONISH proceeding to Portsmouth, where they supported convoys in the approaches to the port. Once they went as far as Cherbourg. Later, the group reformed to accompany four fast troop convoys running between the United Kingdom and Alexandria, Egypt. They had little to fear from the enemy, however, Admiral Doenitz having broadcast his order to his submarine fleet to surrender only four days after the first of the convoys left the United Kingdom.
The frigates returned to Canada in June after stopping at Greenock, Scotland, to embark personnel for the homeward passage. On arrival in Halifax, their group disbanded.
ANTIGONISH then proceeded to Pictou for a refit to prepare her for taking part in the War in the Pacific. While she was still in the shipyard, the atomic bomb was dropped and Japan surrendered. But work went on in her to prepare her for post-war duties.
In December, in company with the frigate, HMCS BEACON HILL, she sailed for Esquimalt, arriving at her destination on 18 January 1946. On 5 February, she was paid off into the Reserve Fleet, but was recommissioned on 26 April 1947. Her career after that was directed chiefly toward training University Naval Training Division cadets. In connection with it, but on occasion for other ends, she called at many ports, both local and the foreign ones strung along the North and South American seaboards and out in the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands. But in addition to training cadets and seamen from Reserve units, the ship exercised frequently with other Canadian and United States Navy ships, and carried out such tasks as searching for missing aircraft. During the Fraser Valley floods of May-June 1948, she acted at New Westminster as headquarters ship for the Senior Naval Officer in Charge for the Fraser area; and, in October 1951, she performed as guard ship for Their Royal Highnesses, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, who were embarked in HMC Destroyer CRUSADER for passage between Vancouver and Victoria.
In January 1954, ANTIGONISH paid off into the custody of the Superintendent, HMC Dockyard, and was converted into a “Prestonian” Class frigate. From the shipyards in October 1957, she emerged modernized, but without her graceful frigate lines, which were sacrificed in the interests of improved anti-submarine armament.
Entering on her third commission on 12 October, she joined the Fourth Canadian Escort Squadron at Esquimalt and remained with it, making many training voyages, until January 1965, when she transferred to the Second Canadian Escort Squadron. But by that time, the frigates of the Second World War vintage were becoming uneconomical to run, and, on 19 September 1966, she was paid off into the reserve. Turned over to Crown Assets Corporation, she was sold, along with others of her class, to a Japanese firm for scrapping. In October 1967, a British Columbia newspaper reported that a large Japanese tug had left Esquimalt for its home port with ANTIGONISH and her sister frigate, NEW GLASGOW, in tow.
A longer history of HMCS ANTIGONISH can be found here in PDF format: