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Date > 1800

Subject > Armed Forces > Military Life > Entertainment

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

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

Militiamen raising the May pole in front of their captain’s house

Type: Image

The tradition of raising the May pole in front of the Militia captain's house, which began in the era of New France, went on in French Canada until the middle of the 19th century.

Site: National Defence

Amusements

Type: Document

Outside their unit's Mess, British officers had other recreations when stationed in Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries. Amateur theatrical productions and musical concerts were put on by officers. Many painted in watercolours, and fishing, hunting and horse racing were also popular.

Site: National Defence

Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site of Canada: Govenors at Work and Leisure - Bit of History

Type: Document

...the château was also the governor’s residence, it was an important living environment and cultural centre. There were many receptions, under both the French and English regimes.

Site: Parks Canada

Soldier's canteen, 1847

Type: Image

The canteens were an attempt to better control drinking and alcoholism, a scourge in the British army, but this had limited success as seen in this print from the 'Illustrated London News,' 20 March 1847.

Site: National Defence

Infantry officer and ‘gentleman to the ladies’, 1873

Type: Image

For all the flirting, there were few marriages. Only one officer in four married. This is an 1873 caricature by Captain Seccombe

Site: National Defence

Introduction - The Salvation Army

Type: Document

During both world wars and throughout the Cold War, the Salvation Army provided Canadian servicemen with refreshments and assisted in maintaining their morale by providing leave centres where they could enjoy activities or simply relax. In November 1939, Ottawa accorded the Salvation Army official status as a military Auxiliary Service.

Site: Canadian War Museum

Officers in the mess, circa 1850

Type: Image

The regimental officers' mess was something of a social centre and a military version of a private gentlemen’s club. By pooling their resources together, the officers could thus indulge in some of life's small luxuries such as good wines and pleasant surroundings.

Site: National Defence

The Mess

Type: Document

The social centre of a British officer's life was his regimental Mess. The term comes from the practice of 'messing', or sharing the cost of meals to improve standards. By the 19th century, the Mess was the equivalent of a good social club were officers found food and recreation.

Site: National Defence