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Date > 1800 > 1880-1889

Subject > Armed Forces > Land Forces

Command of the Militia

Type: Document

From 1867 to 1904, the militia system was commanded by British General Officers who were often in conflict with Canadian Defence Ministers over matters of appointments, budgets, and the role played by Canada’s forces in the Empire. During this period small improvements were made in the staff system and the training of officers.

Site: National Defence

Lieutenant-Colonel William D. Otter (1843-1929) - South African War

Type: Document

Lieutenant-Colonel William D. Otter became the first Canadian-born officer to command this country’s military. As commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry in South Africa, his no nonsense, no frills approach to soldiering brought him into conflict with the less disciplined ways of his officers and men, but his austere professionalism got results.

Site: Canadian War Museum

Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel B. Steele (1849-1919) - South African War

Type: Document

Recommended as the best man in Canada to lead a unit in South Africa by the North West Mounted Police, Samuel B. Steele took command of Strathcona’s Horse in 1899. After taking the unit back to Canada early in 1901, Steele returned to South Africa that same year to command a division of the South African Constabulary until 1906. He later commanded Canadian formations in England during the First World War.

Site: Canadian War Museum

The Colt .455 New Service Model Revolver - Weapons used by Canadians in the South African War

Type: Document

Canada's Department of Militia and Defence chose Colt's .455 New Service Model introduced in 1898, to upgrade the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry's old Colt .44 Calibre Model 1878 pistol to a more modern firearm. It was a large pistol, which fired a heavy bullet intended to stop an enemy quickly and was carried in a Canadian-made holster, suspended from the Oliver Pattern Equipment waistbelt.

Site: Canadian War Museum

Improvements Sought by the General Officers Commanding

Type: Document

Improvements to the militia were attempted by the British General Officers Commanding for the Permanent Force. The Militia Act of 1883 reformed the militia system based on proposals by Canadian militia officers.

Site: National Defence

Training and the Evolution of the Militia

Type: Document

The founding of the Royal Military College in 1876 and the building of the Dominion Arsenal at Quebec improved the militia and its equipment, but many challenges remained. Developments within Canada, such as the creation of the transcontinental railway, influenced the formation of the militia with more units being formed in the cities rather than the countryside.

Site: National Defence

Canada’s First Professional Soldiers

Type: Document

The Canadian public was initially opposed to full-time professional soldiers, but when the British withdrew their regular troops, Canada was forced to establish regular units of artillery at the fortresses of Kingston and Quebec. These units became the foundation of the Royal Canadian Artillery.

Site: National Defence

Lieutenant-Colonel Charles W. Drury (1856-1913) - South African War

Type: Document

Charles W. Drury was known as the ‘Father of Modern Field Artillery in Canada’ for his many innovations. He accompanied the first Canadian contingent to study military developments during the South African War.

Site: Canadian War Museum

The Regular Cavalry And Infantry

Type: Document

The Militia Act of 1883 established the first cavalry and infantry schools to instruct the militia, and these units became the basis for Canada’s army.

Site: National Defence

Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas D.B. Evans (1860- 1908) - South African War

Type: Document

Under Lieutenant-Colonel T.D.B. Evans' leadership the Canadian Mounted Rifles carried out some very successful actions, including the seizure of a key hill at Leliefontein on 7 November 1900 that prevented the Boers from trapping a British force.

Site: Canadian War Museum