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Date > 1800 > 1840-1849

Subject > Armed Forces > Military Life

Officer and gunner, Royal Regiment of Artillery, 1840

Type: Image

This unit always had several companies posted in Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1840 for example, officers and men wearing the uniforms shown could be seen in Halifax, St. John’s (Newfoundland), St. John (New Brunswick), Quebec, Montreal, Chambly, Drummondville, Kingston and Toronto with detachments in smaller towns and outlying forts.

Site: National Defence

Private Charles Traveller, 70th (the Surrey) Regiment of Foot, 1841

Type: Image

This self-portrait of Charles Traveller, a soldier of the 70th (the Surrey) Regiment of Foot, is one of the few known paintings by a common soldier of the era. Traveller, shown accompanied by his dog, painted the picture in Laprairie in 1841. At the rear, from left to right: the soldiers' barracks (resembling a barn), the officers' barracks (resembling a villa), the light infantry and grenadier companies of the 70th in ranks, the guardhouse and the regimental band. Traveller wears the winter dress uniform of a private of the light company of the 70th. (Parks Canada)

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

23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welsh Fuziliers), 1838-1853

Type: Image

The 23rd Foot served in various places in Canada between 1838 and 1853. Its regimental mascot is a goat, a tradition that has since been adopted by its allied Canadian regiment, the Royal 22e Régiment. From left to right: a private, a pioneer, the drum-major and two officers. Note the traditional black silk ribbon worn at the back of the collar by the officers of this regiment. (Library of the Canadian Department of National Defence)

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

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

Reluctant Canadian Politicians

Type: Document

In 1849, responsible government came to Canada, and Canadian politicians now made many decisions, instead of the British Governor-General. The Canadians preferred to leave the cost of defence up to Britain, but did appoint a commission to study militia reform in 1854.

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

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

Private, service dress, Colored Infantry Company, Upper Canada Incorporated Militia, 1843-1850

Type: Image

Raised in 1838, the Colored Infantry Company recruited from Blacks in Upper Canada was the only provincial unit on duty between 1843 the unit's disbanding in 1850. It served mainly along the American border in the Niagara area. Besides the service dress shown, these Black Canadian soldiers also had the shako and scarlet coat trimmed with white lace for full dress as in the British infantry. Reconstruction by Garth Dittrick. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence