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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

Gold Rush Prompts Border Survey

Type: Document

The Fraser River gold rush, starting in 1857, brought changes to the Pacific coast. The flood of American prospectors prompted the British government to take over the region from the Hudson's Bay Company. Royal Engineers were sent to survey the region, especially the border.

Site: National Defence

Colonel John By, Corps of Royal Engineers, circa 1830

Type: Image

This half-tone print from 'The Dominion Illustrated' of 1891 was based on silhouette portraits claimed to be of Colonel John By. To date, no completely authenticated portrait in known.

Site: National Defence

A Phenomenally Expensive Canal

Type: Document

The most expensive part of the British defence works built in Canada during the 1820s and 1830s was the Rideau Canal, which connected the Ottawa River with Lake Ontario. The huge engineering project cost more than £1.000,000 instead of the £169,000 budgeted at the start.

Site: National Defence

The Post of "King's Engineer"

Type: Document

From 1685, the post of 'King's Engineer' was a part of the general staff of New France. This official was responsible for building and overseeing the colony's fortifications, but also acted on occasion as architect for other official or ecclesiastic buildings

Site: National Defence

King's engineer, mid-18th century

Type: Image

This man wears the red uniform of his corps. Reconstruction by Michel Pétard. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

Sergeant, The Royal Canadian Engineers, circa 1912

Type: Image

Halifax was chosen as the site of the School of Military Engineering when the Royal Canadian Engineers were formed in 1903. The location was a logical one, because at the time companies of the Corps of Royal Engineers were still stationed in Halifax as part of the British garrison protecting the naval base. This sergeant wears a uniform very close to that of his British counterparts, except for the white 'Wolesley' pattern helmet adopted by the Canadian militia in 1902.

Site: National Defence

Royal Engineers Build BC Infrastructure

Type: Document

British Columbia received a detachment of Royal Engineers in 1858 to help build infrastructure for the new colony. They supervised building of the Cariboo Road, which opened up the interior to colonization, and also founded the town of New Westminster.

Site: National Defence

Colonel John By watching the building of the Rideau Canal, 1826

Type: Image

Colonel John By (1779-1836) of the Corps of Royal Engineers was the officer in charge of building a canal stretching from Kingston on Lake Ontario to the Ottawa River. In this picture, construction work on the spectacular series of locks leading down to the Ottawa River is underway. Soldiers of the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners in their working uniforms can be seen in the background. Most of the work was done by civilian labourers, hundreds of whom died of malaria during the project. (Library and Archives Canada, C-073703)

Site: National Defence

Officer, Corps of Royal Engineers, circa 1865

Type: Image

During the 1860s, the military engineers refitted fortifications in British North America in anticipation of an American invasion. This officer was photographed in Montreal. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence