Reorganization of the Militia

Shifting Balances

Officer, 7th, or Queen’s Own Regiment of  Hussars, 1842

Caption: Officer, 7th, or Queen’s Own Regiment of Hussars, 1842

Fortunately, though, tensions between Great Britain and the United States faded as the years went by. The Oregon Crisis was settled by an agreement that extended the border along the 49th parallel all the way to the Pacific. In 1846 the American troops deployed along the Canadian border were nearly all sent to fight the Mexicans.

Great Britain continued to reduce the size of its regular garrison in North America, particularly since in Europe the situation was seriously worsening for the first time since 1815. In 1854 the Crimean War showed the English that their army, although brave and disciplined, was in a pitiful state and urgently needed modernizing.

All of these events had an impact on the Province of Canada. The British garrison deployed in North America declined from more than 6,000 men in 1853 to fewer than 3,300 two years later. On the other hand, the Sedentary Militia was growing. Throughout the 1840s the arrival in the Province of Canada of hundreds of thousands of immigrants, mainly from Ireland and Scotland, considerably increased the population of Canada West. In 1851 the Province of Canada had 534,000 men aged 18 to 60 years, 317,000 of them in Canada West. French Canadians were no longer the majority.

Additional Images

Officer and gunner, Royal Regiment of Artillery, 1854