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Subject > Politics and Society

Date > 1800 > 1820-1829

British iron guns mounted on iron carriages, circa 1815

Type: Image

Iron carriages were introduced in the British artillery in 1810. They were to be placed ‘in such parts of fortifications as are least exposed to the enemy’s fire’ as it was feared they would shatter if hit by enemy artillery. The examples seen in this photograph are found at the Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site.

Site: National Defence

Trooper, Royal Montreal Cavalry, 1824

Type: Image

This 1824 silhouette of a trooper of the Royal Montreal Cavalry unit is one of the earliest known images of a Canadian unit. These militia light cavalry were dressed in the same style as British light dragoons. The uniform was blue faced with scarlet and trimmed with gold buttons and lace. The original silhouette is in the collection of the Musée d'Argenteuil, Carillon, Quebec. The Royal Montreal cavalry was recruited from the Anglophone middle class of Montreal, and was something of a military wing of the Montreal Hunt Club.

Site: National Defence

Coat of Captain William Wells, Grenville Regiment, Upper Canada Militia, circa 1820

Type: Image

From 1814 until the 1830s, militia infantry officers in Upper Canada were supposed to wear, apart from a few exceptions, a scarlet uniform faced with dark blue, trimmed with gilt buttons and gold lace edging the collar and cuffs. This surviving coat of circa 1820 belonged to Captain William Wells (1809-1881) of the Grenville Regiment. It is preserved at Fort Wellington National Historic Site. Wells himself was a prominent Reform politician.

Site: National Defence

British iron mortar, circa 1810

Type: Image

Mortars were designed to shoot an exploding shell at a very high angle, 45 degrees or more. They were used in the siege and defence of fortifications. An explosive shell was fired up into the air and arced downwards to drop within the enemy defences. When the shell's fuse burned down, it exploded. These projectiles are the 'bombs bursting in air' mentioned in the American national anthem, where they were being fired from a British fleet attacking Baltimore.

Site: National Defence

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

Captain George Denison, York Dragoons, 1820s

Type: Image

George Taylor Denison (1783-1853) founded both a Canadian military dynasty and a militia regiment that survives into the 21st century. Also known as the York Light Dragoons or York Cavalry, the York Dragoons were raised in 1822 and attached to the 1st West York (later Toronto) Militia Regiment. After many changes of name, the unit is now the The Governor General's Horse Guards, a Toronto-based reserve regiment. The uniform in the 1820s was a dark blue jacket with buff facings and silver buttons, lace and wings. (Library of the Canadian Department of National Defence)

Site: National Defence

32 pounder guns mounted on traversing wooden garrison platforms

Type: Image

These early 19th century British artillery pieces are mounted on platforms that allow guns to swing in a wide arc and thus follow a moving target such as a ship. These reconstucted carriages are found at the Coteau-du-Lac National Historic Site near Montreal, Quebec. The fortifications were built to defend the canal lock - the first built in North America.

Site: National Defence

Lieutenant-Colonel Gustavus Nicolls, Corps of Royal Engineers

Type: Image

Gustavus Nicolls was the designer of the Halifax Citadel, as well as Fort Lennox (Île-aux-Noix, Quebec). He commanded the Corps of Royal Engineers in Canada from 1815 to 1837. This portrait of circa 1813-1824 is attributed to his wife. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

Military Bands

Type: Document

The British likely introduced the military band to Canada. These regimental musicians were paid for by individual units. Instrumentation favoured flutes, clarinets and percussion. The bands played a strong role in the social life of garrison towns throughout Canada.

Site: National Defence

British at Fort Chambly

Type: Document

After the Conquest in 1760, the British moved into Fort Chambly. This website describes the role of the fort during the invasion of Canada by the Americans in 1775-1776 and again in the War of 1812.

Site: Parks Canada