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Date > 1800 > 1870-1879

Organization > 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

Militia Deficiencies

Type: Document

Deficiencies in the militia included a lack of weapons, the tendency of militia members to lose uniforms and equipment, political interference, and rising economic sacrifices by individual members. These problems were compounded by the lack of a real enemy to focus political interest in solving the problems.

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

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

Officer cadet, Royal Military College of Canada, 1954

Type: Image

Except for a few details, the full dress uniform of officer cadets at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, remained essentially the same since the college was founded in 1874. As shown in this 1954 photo, only the shakos and pith helmets worn on parade by first-class officer-cadets disappeared, replaced by pill-box caps. (Canadian Department of National Defence, ZK-2049)

Site: National Defence

Formidable Fighters

Type: Document

The peoples of the Pacific coast were formidable fighters during the 18th and 19th centuries. Their warriors used bows and javelins, carried clubs and bone-bladed daggers, and could wear wooden armour. They preferred a mass assault, but treachery during 'friendly' meetings were not rare.

Site: National Defence

Training Camps

Type: Document

The system of militia training camps did not work well as it perpetuated the problem of paying units that arrived for training without a full complement of men. There was a high turnover of men as they left for better jobs, leaving units in a continuous cycle of training new members to replace those who left.

Site: National Defence

The End of an Era

Type: Document

The final Fenian invasion and the withdrawal of the British garrison in 1871 marked the end of a 120 year period of real or threatened invasion for Canada.

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

Private, Canadian Volunteer Militia, 1863-1870

Type: Image

This volunteer wears the full dress uniform authorized for the Canadian Volunteer Militia in 1863. Few units would have worn the shako shown in this image, substituting the inexpensive (and far more comfortable) forage cap. The style is generally similar to that worn by British regular infantry, with the white-metal buttons and badges commonly used by militia units within the British empire. Reconstruction by Ron Volstad. (Canadian Department of National Defence)

Site: National Defence