Canadian Politics and British Withdrawal

Reduction and Restructuring

Officer and rifleman in Canadian winter dress, 60th (The King's Royal Rifle Corps) Regiment of Foot, 1846

Caption: Officer and rifleman in Canadian winter dress, 60th (The King's Royal Rifle Corps) Regiment of Foot, 1846

In Canada, as the threat of a new rebellion faded volunteers were demobilized. Whereas in 1839 the estimates were 21,000 volunteers, there were no more than 4,879 the following year, and 2,766 in 1841-42. By 1843 all provincial troops had been disbanded with the exception of three cavalry companies in Canada East and one infantry company in Canada West, which were kept for another seven years.

In Canada East the Rural Police and the police corps in Montreal and Quebec City gradually became not a paramilitary political police force but a civilian one. But the costs of maintaining these companies, and in particular their repressive origins, were reason enough to suppress them. In December 1842 the Legislative Assembly ordered the dissolution of all police corps raised during the rebellion. 107 This decision did, however, leave a gap for crime-fighting, and circumstances made it necessary to establish other police forces.

In 1842 and 1843 the regiments that had been brought in to deal with the 1838 emergency withdrew. In 1844, however, the regular British garrison in the Province of Canada, with its 7,700 soldiers, was still three times larger than it had been in 1837. But each year there were a few hundred fewer soldiers. Some did not wait for their regiment to return to England before they left Canada, preferring to go to the United States! The Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment was formed in 1840-41 precisely to put a stop to the exodus. It was not a Canadian regiment, as its name would suggest, but rather a unit of veterans from line regiments, and it was part of the regular army. But its soldiers were not rotated: it was a Sedentary regiment whose companies were placed along the border to watch the United States, of course, but even more so to prevent deserters from going there.

Additional Images

Private, service dress, Colored Infantry Company, Upper Canada Incorporated Militia, 1843-1850
The 23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welsh Fuziliers), 1838-1853