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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

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

Drummer, Compagnies franches de la Marine, New France, circa 1740

Type: Image

This drummer's coat is decorated with the crimson and white lace of the livery of the King of France. His drum is decorated with the fleur-de-lis of the French royal arms. Reconstruction by Michel Pétard. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

Drummer, Compagnies franches de la Marine d'Acadie et de Plaisance, 1701-1713

Type: Image

Wearing the livery of the King of France, this drummer wears the style of uniform seen in New France between 1701 and 1713. Reconstruction by Francis Back. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

Drummer, Compagnies franches de la Marine du Canada, 1701-1716

Type: Image

Notice the large size of the military side drum used during the 18th century. Contrary to the modern myth of the little drummer boy, European armies of this time period used adults as drummers. No child could have carried and played the instrument. Reconstruction by Michel Pétard. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence