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Subject > Armed Forces > Naval Forces and Merchant Navy

Date > 1800 > 1860-1869 > 1866

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

Justice at the Muzzle of a Cannon

Type: Document

During the mid 19th century, outbreaks of piracy by Amerindians were met with strong responses by the Royal Navy. In one such incident in 1864, pirates murdered the crew of a merchant vessel. When the Navy arrived and met with armed resistance, 8 villages were burned.

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

Gun deck of HMS Warrior, 1860s

Type: Image

These were also the living quarters of the crew as can be seen by the removable mess table. The men’s hammocks are rolled and hung from the ceiling, sometimes over the guns.

Site: National Defence

S.S. Great Eastern laying the first trans-Atlantic cable, July 1866

Type: Image

The world’s largest steamship, the Great Eastern, laid the first transatlantic telegraph cable from Valencia, Ireland, arriving at Trinity Bay, Newfoundland in July 1866 as shown in this print. The transatlantic cable had revolutionary effects on British military and diplomatic communications. Messages that once took weeks to travel now took only a few hours.

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