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Date > 1700 > 1790-1799

Subject > Politics and Society > War Art, Literature and Music

Natives going to meet the Spanish navy schooners Sutil and Mexicana in 1792

Type: Image

This painting shows an encounter on 11 June 1792 between native canoes and the Spanish navy schooners Sutil and Mexicana. Mount Baker can be seen in the background. On this date in Guemes Channel (near present day Anacortes, Washington), a Spanish expedition paused to make astronomical observations that would correctly fix their longitude. Their mission was to chart the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and search for the Northwest Passage. The painting is the work of José Cardero, the expedition's official artist. (Museo Naval, Madrid)

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

Spanish fort at Nootka in 1793

Type: Image

This watercolour by artist Sigismund Bacstrum is based on a sketch made 20 February 1793. It shows the presido at Nootka with the red and yellow Spanish flag flying over the battery at left, and the soldiers' barracks at right. (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

Typical British field artillery of the War of 1812 - brass six-pounder field gun

Type: Image

The six-pounder gun was the most common piece of artillery found in the field during the War of 1812. The description 'six-pounder' refers the weight of a solid shot (popularly known as a cannon ball) fired by this type of gun. Both the United States and Great Britain used guns of this size. In fact, some of the American guns were captured British pieces dating back to the American Revolution of 1775-1783. Only the British used the more modern block-trail carriage shown here, however. The wood of British artillery carriages was painted grey and the iron parts black.

Site: National Defence

Real Stories - Our Past in Miniatures - Basilique-Benjamin Trottier Desrivières Beaubien - Miniature Portrait - 1792

Type: DocumentImage

Miniature portrait of Basilique-Benjamin Trottier Desrivières Beaubien, French Canadian lawyer who was involved in the militia. Includes access to descriptive archival record for the artwork.

Site: Library and Archives Canada

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

Type: Image

The Primera Compañía franca de Voluntarios de Cataluña (or '1st independent company of Catalonian volunteers') was a Spanish colonial unit raised in 1767 for service in the Americas. In 1790, it provided men to garrison the Spanish outpost at Nootka. This was the first European military unit posted to present-day British Columbia. Its uniform was broadly that its parent regiment in Spain, the Segundo Regimiento de los Voluntarios de Cataluña (or '2nd Regiment of Catalonian volunteers'), with the same blue coat with yellow collar and cuffs, yellow waistcoat, blue breeches and black tricorne hat with the red cockade of the Bourbon Kings of Spain. Reconstruction by David Rickman. (Parks Canada)

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

British field artillery limber at the time of the War of 1812

Type: Image

Limbers were small two-wheeled wagons that provided the ‘front wheels’ for cannon whose trail was hooked up to the limber for travelling. The limber boxes, also used as seats for gunners, contained ammunition and various tools for serving the gun. Four (or more) horses pulled both gun and limber. This reproduction limber is found at Fort George National Historic Site. Note the way the spoked wheels are 'dished' for extra strength, and slightly angled outwards at the top.

Site: National Defence