In the Maritimes


Private, Royal Newfoundland Companies, circa 1854

Caption: Private, Royal Newfoundland Companies, circa 1854

In Newfoundland, the Maritime colony par excellence, the population was so sparse and so busy with the business of offshore fishing that there would never to be an organized Sedentary Militia. Corps of volunteers were raised from time to time, such as the St. John's Volunteer Rangers from 1805 to 1814. Beginning in 1824, even the regular troops had only veterans in the three Royal Newfoundland companies to perform garrison duties. The Volunteer Movement of Great Britain led to the establishment, in 1860, of four companies of volunteers in St. John's, who wore red uniforms, and a company of riflemen at Harbour Grace, who wore blue uniforms. But these units were very short-lived because protecting Newfoundland was not really a land matter but a sea one, thanks to the warships of the Royal Navy, which kept surveillance over the island and its fisheries. Indeed the Royal Navy defended not only Newfoundland but all the coasts of British North America on three oceans.