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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

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

James Fitzgibbon's 1820 testimonial regarding Laura Secord

Type: Document

In June 1813, James FitzGibbon (1780-1863) was a lieutenant of the 49th (the Hertfordshire) Regiment of Foot in command of the British outpost at Beaver Dams. He received warning from Laura Secord (1775-1868) of an impending American surprise attack, and his instructions led to their ambush and surrender. FitzGibbon had a remarkable military career, which reached its high point when he was largely responsible for preventing Mackenzie's rebels from taking Toronto in 1837. This testimonial was reproduced in ‘From Brock to Currie’ (Toronto, 1935).

Site: National Defence

Volunteers, Québec Light Infantry, 1837-1838

Type: Image

This 1839 lithograph shows two of the uniforms worn by the Québec Light Infantry. At right is a member of Number 4 Company, at left is a member of Number 2, 3 or 5 Company. The regiment was raised in Quebec City in 1837 and commanded by Colonel John St. Alban Sewell, a veteran of the War of 1812. The hastily raised loyalist volunteer units wore a variety of clothing, sometimes with each company clothed differently. An inscription on the lithograph reads 'Comps. 2 & 5 wear same Cap as Compy. No. 4'. The artist, Sir James Hope-Wallace, was an officer of the Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards who served in Canada. (Library and Archives Canada, C-040757)

Site: National Defence

American Withdrawal Leaves Towns Burning

Type: Document

When the British regained control of Lake Ontario in December 1813, the Americans had to move men to hold their shipyards at Sackets Harbor. Unable to hold Fort George, they burnt both it and the surrounding towns in mid-winter. A unit of Canadian traitors helped them in this cruelty.

Site: National Defence

Loyal militiaman, Frontenac County, Upper Canada, 1837-1838

Type: Image

When rebellion broke out in Upper Canada, loyalist militia in Kingston were issued arms and accoutrements. They wore their civilian clothes and used a piece of white linen as a 'field sign' to distinguish them from the rebels. The same sign had been used during the War of 1812 by militiamen who lacked uniforms. Reconstruction by Douglas Anderson. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

Laura Secord discovered by British Amerindian allies, 22 June 1813

Type: Image

Laura Secord (1775-1868) walked into a camp of Amerindians towards the end of her famous 30 kilometre trek on 22 June 1813. The group were allies of the British, and they led Secord to a detachment of British troops stationed at the DeCew house, on the Niagara Escarpment near present-day St. Catherines, Ontario. There, she was able to pass on her warning of an impending American attack. This print gives a rather romanticized view of the heroine. At the time of her exploit, Secord was 38, rather older than suggested here. Nevertheless, a contemporary eyewitness account describes her 'slender frame and delicate appearance'.

Site: National Defence

Armed Gangs Formed

Type: Document

In Lower Canada, the opposing political factions formed semi-secret paramilitary groups during the 1830s. The reformist Patriotes created Les Fils de la Liberté, while the conservatives had their Doric Club. Trapped in the middle, the British garrison prepared for trouble.

Site: National Defence

Fears of French Fleets

Type: Document

France's 1778 entry into the American Revolutionary War spread fear in several places. The Maritimes worried about a French fleet disrupting shipping in the Gulf of St. Lawrence or attacking Newfoundland. In Quebec, officials worried about Canadian reaction to a French landing.

Site: National Defence