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Subject > Armed Forces > Naval Forces and Merchant Navy

Date > 1800 > 1850-1859 > 1851

Sir Wilfrid Laurier National Historic Site of Canada: End of a Long Reign

Type: Document

Wilfrid Laurier's penchant for compromise allowed him to remain in power for 15 years, earning him the nickname of the "Great Conciliator". But in 1911, this talent proved inadequate to the task of winning elections.

Site: Parks Canada

The Military Art of the American Northwest

Type: Document

War in the Pacific Northwest centred around the canoe, which could be up to 20 metres long. Flotillas of canoes would attack enemy villages, hoping to capture prisoners to keep as slaves. Coastal forts of cedar logs were to be found, used to help control and tax maritime trade.

Site: National Defence

A Series of Amerindian Nations

Type: Document

During the eighteenth century, the northwest Pacific coast was home to a series of Amerindian nations, including the Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Nootka and Salish. These were maritime cultures - excellent sailors and fishermen who depended on the sea's resources

Site: National Defence

Royal Navy Polices the Coast

Type: Document

The Royal Navy acted as a kind of police force along the British Columbia coast in the mid-19th century. The local Amerindian nations were not keen about European settlement, and incidents resulted. In addition, British law against murder, piracy and slavery was firmly imposed.

Site: National Defence

Punitive Expeditions

Type: Document

During the 1850s the Royal Navy mounted expeditions to punish Amerindians who murdered or enslaved Europeans. Attempts were made to punish guilty individuals rather than whole communities, but when there was resistance, it was met with overwhelming force.

Site: National Defence

Seldom Seen Guardians

Type: Document

The Royal Navy was crucial in the defence of British North America in the 19th century, even though Canadians seldom saw warships. The threat of a naval blockade and raids by the British fleet helped American politicians to find diplomatic solutions to Anglo-American disputes.

Site: National Defence

Newfoundland

Type: Document

Newfoundland had little in the way of militia during the 19th century. The population was sparse, and even British regular troops were not commonly seen. It was the Royal Navy that defended the colony.

Site: National Defence

Royal Navy officers and midshipmen, 1830s-1890s

Type: Image

The two officers at left wear the scarlet collar and cuffs introduced by King William IV in 1830. The traditional white facings were restored in 1843. (Library of the Canadian Department of National Defence)

Site: National Defence

Franklin's Tragic Expedition

Type: Document

In 1845, a large well-equipped Royal Navy expedition under Sir John Franklin left for the Arctic. They disappeared, and their fate was a great mystery for many years. Eventually, it was discovered that all involved had died, marching south from their ice-bound ships.

Site: National Defence

The Royal Navy

Type: Document

As an island state, Britain gave priority to its navy. The Admiralty (the appointed committee of admirals which made all strategic decisions) governed hundreds of ships worldwide. The Royal Navy used its bases in Canada to help control the Northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Site: National Defence