History Browser

Search Results

Drummer, Compagnies franches de la Marine, New France, 1755-1760

Type: Image

This drummer of the Compagnies franches wears the livery of the king of France, with its distinctive lace - crimson with an embroidered white chain pattern. Drummers were often distinctively dressed to make them easy to spot in the heat of battle. This was because the only practical way of transmitting orders to a large group of men before the perfection of portable radios was by means of distinctive drum beats. Officers had to be able to find a drummer quickly, even in a confused mass of soldiers, hence the special uniform. Reconstruction by Eugène Lelièpvre. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

Drummer, Primera Compañía franca de Voluntarios de Cataluña at Nootka, 1790-1794

Type: Image

There were two drummers on the strength of the Primera Compañía franca de Voluntarios de Cataluña (or '1st independent company of Catalonian volunteers'). This unit of the Spanish colonial army supplied the original garrison at Nootka. After 1760, Spanish army drummers wore the livery of the King of Spain - a blue coat with scarlet collar and cuffs, along with a scarlet waistcoat. Both coat and waistcoat were trimmed with scarlet lace that was embroidered with a white chain pattern. This same pattern of lace had decorated French uniforms before the French Revolution in 1789. The Bourbon kings of Spain were a branch of the French royal family, and adopted a similar livery. Reconstruction by David Rickman. (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

To the Sound of the Drummer's Beat

Type: Document

Fortified towns like Quebec, Montreal, Trois-Rivières and Louisbourg were all governed by military staffs. The lives of French soldiers and Canadian civilians alike were regulated by the different drum beatings of the garrison, from La Diane at dawn to La Retraite at sunset.

Site: National Defence

The billeted soldier's departure, circa 1790

Type: Image

In 18th century Canada, a good many soldiers were ‘billeted’ (lodged) in private houses rather than in barracks.

Site: National Defence

Entertainment

Type: Document

During the 18th and 19th centuries, alcohol and prostitutes were not the only forms of entertainment available to British soldiers. Cards and dice were popular, as was singing and playing music. The army tried to encourage reading, and it set up schools for the illiterate majority.

Site: National Defence

Napierville

Type: Document

With a new outbreak of rebellion near Montreal in November 1838, General Colborne mobilized Canadian volunteers and militia to support his British troops. Three columns struck towards the rebels at Napierville. Outnumbered and fearing a massacre, the Patriotes fled.

Site: National Defence

Drummer, régiment de Carignan-Salières, 1665-1668

Type: Image

This reconstruction by Michel Pétard shows a drummer of the régiment de Carignan-Salières during the regiment's service in New France. He is wearing the livery of the princes of Carignan. The Carignan coat of arms is painted on his drum; the central shield of the arms shows a white cross on a red field. The drummer's role was to communicate the orders of his commander through patterns of drum beats. (Canadian Department of National Defence)

Site: National Defence

The French Canadian Position

Type: Document

In the 19th century, French-Canadians had no close feelings for Britain, unlike most of their Anglophone countrymen. They did have strong ties with the northern United States, where many sought work. Thousands of French Canadian volunteers fought in the American Civil War.

Site: National Defence

Drummer, Brunswick Infanterie-Regiment von Specht, 1776-1777

Type: Image

Infanterie-Regiment von Specht was one of the regiments of German mercenaries hired from the duchy of Brunswick that arrived at Quebec in 1777. It accompanied General Burgoyne's expedition south in 1777. Amongst the various German states of this period, it was still common for infantry drummers to wear a uniform in the colour of their colonel's livery. This drummer wears the yellow and red livery of the von Specht family, whose patent of nobility from the Holy Roman Empire dated from 1662. The use of this uniform in Canada is proved by surviving tailors' bills submitted by the regiment to the British authorities. Reconstruction by Derek Fitzjames. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence