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Date > 1800 > 1820-1829 > 1820

Subject > Armed Forces

Coat of Captain William Wells, Grenville Regiment, Upper Canada Militia, circa 1820

Type: Image

From 1814 until the 1830s, militia infantry officers in Upper Canada were supposed to wear, apart from a few exceptions, a scarlet uniform faced with dark blue, trimmed with gilt buttons and gold lace edging the collar and cuffs. This surviving coat of circa 1820 belonged to Captain William Wells (1809-1881) of the Grenville Regiment. It is preserved at Fort Wellington National Historic Site. Wells himself was a prominent Reform politician.

Site: National Defence

Weapons

Type: Document

This section illustrates a selection of firearms and bladed weapons used by British and Canadian military units during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Site: National Defence

The Military Art of the American Northwest

Type: Document

War in the Pacific Northwest centred around the canoe, which could be up to 20 metres long. Flotillas of canoes would attack enemy villages, hoping to capture prisoners to keep as slaves. Coastal forts of cedar logs were to be found, used to help control and tax maritime trade.

Site: National Defence

Military Costumes

Type: Document

This section is a collection of surviving artifacts and period artists' illustrations. Illustrated are uniform coats of officers or enlisted men from a variety of Canadian and British units that served in present-day Canada during the period 1780-1870.

Site: National Defence

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

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

Militia of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island

Type: Document

This report discusses the organizational features of the militia of the separate provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island prior to Confederation.

Site: National Defence

Demobilization and Retirement

Type: Document

Before reforms in the mid-19th century, most British soldiers left the army only when their regiment was disbanded in the aftermath of a war. When this occurred in Canada, men were offered land to encourage them to settle in the colony. Pensions were rare, and worth little.

Site: National Defence

Duties and Honours

Type: Document

British army officers were primarily responsible for supervising the activities of their men. The British took up the practice of awarding military medals only in the nineteenth century. First for officers only, then for all ranks, campaign medals became a source of great pride.

Site: National Defence

Canadian Militia Prior to Confederation

Type: Document

This report discusses the growth and development of the Canadian Militia from its beginnings in early New France until Confederation in 1867.

Site: National Defence