Reorganization of the Militia

Attempts to Revive a French-speaking Militia

Nevertheless, a noteworthy effort was made to revive the militia, particularly in Canada East, which had not organized a review since 1837. French asserted itself as an official language on a par with English in the Legislative Assembly, and the Deputy Adjutant-General of the militia for Canada East was henceforth to have two clerks "sufficiently familiar in the knowledge of French" 108 to be able to correspond in French with the battalion officers. In September 1846 the militia staff began to allocate the approximately 246,000 militiamen to 57 regiments with 334 battalions, and to appoint senior officers who would in turn recommend officers for their battalions.

To render French Canadians in the cities less hostile to the militia, the measures introduced by Lord Dalhousie were dispensed with. Once again, the battalions could reflect each language group and the number of officers was to be equitable within joint regiments, as the staff of the 4th militia battalion of Carleton County in Bytown (Ottawa) were to learn to their cost. When the governor-in-chief discovered that all the officers in this regiment were English Canadians and that half the militiamen were of French descent, he simply revoked all the officers' commissions! The 1846 statute thus represented the beginning of reconciliation. It was, however, given a rather cool reception in French Canada, which ought not to have been surprising. French Canadians, who had been excluded for a quarter century, remained distrustful.