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Date > 1800

Subject > Armed Forces > Military Life > Discipline, Justice and Punishment

Ethnic Tensions Within the Militia

Type: Document

Because the population of Canada in the 19th century included a mix of different cultures, there were tensions between them on occasion. The military authorities had to make it clear on occasion that such attitudes were not welcome in the Militia.

Site: National Defence

Justice at the Muzzle of a Cannon

Type: Document

During the mid 19th century, outbreaks of piracy by Amerindians were met with strong responses by the Royal Navy. In one such incident in 1864, pirates murdered the crew of a merchant vessel. When the Navy arrived and met with armed resistance, 8 villages were burned.

Site: National Defence

Royal Navy Polices the Coast

Type: Document

The Royal Navy acted as a kind of police force along the British Columbia coast in the mid-19th century. The local Amerindian nations were not keen about European settlement, and incidents resulted. In addition, British law against murder, piracy and slavery was firmly imposed.

Site: National Defence

Mutinies and Desertion

Type: Document

Despite the ferocious punishments they were subject to during the 18th and 19th centuries, mutiny was very rare amongst British troops. Desertion, on the other hand, was a constant problem, and grew worse as travel to the United States became easier during the 19th century.

Site: National Defence

Reduction and Restructuring

Type: Document

As fears of rebellion faded in the early 1840s, the garrison in Canada was reduced. Canadian units were disbanded, and the British presence shrank each year. A unit of British veterans, the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment, was raised to help prevent desertions to the United States.

Site: National Defence

War Resumes

Type: Document

After a peace of 14 months, war broke out again between Britain and France in 1803. In North America, orders were given to raise troops. This time, however, they were raised as 'fencible' regiments - fully part of the British army, but required only to serve in North America.

Site: National Defence

Punitive Expeditions

Type: Document

During the 1850s the Royal Navy mounted expeditions to punish Amerindians who murdered or enslaved Europeans. Attempts were made to punish guilty individuals rather than whole communities, but when there was resistance, it was met with overwhelming force.

Site: National Defence

'Cat of nine tails' whip

Type: Image

The ‘cat of nine tails’ was a whip used to flog soldiers. This one was used in the British 83rd Regiment of Foot. The length of the wooden stick was 43cm (1' 5"), its tails 53cm (1' 9"), and it weighed 141,75 g. (5 ounces). (Library of the Canadian Department of National Defence)

Site: National Defence

Upper Canadian Patriotism

Type: Document

The 1838 Rebellion in Upper Canada led to a huge call up for the militia. More than 20,000 were under arms, supporting British troops in the colony. In later years, the population remembered the rebellions more for this outpouring of patriotism than for its relatively few casualties.

Site: National Defence

Adjutant's enquiry, 1840

Type: Image

The soldiers' minor offences were dealt with by the adjudant in the regiments of the British Army. This sketch by Sir J.E. Alexander was made in Canada. (Library and Archives Canada, C-098856)

Site: National Defence