Recently Master Corporal Nikolas A. E. Mouriopoulos of The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment of Canada) completed a paper for his Masters Degree in History which he undertook at the University of Toronto. Last fall he approached the museum with the hope of researching Canada’s oldest continuous infantry unit. While exploring the archival storage rooms he found several scrapbooks neatly filled with newspaper clippings on the Regiment’s 1910 trip to England, organized and financed by Major General Sir Henry Pellatt. After some further thought and discussion with his advisor, his paper’s them evolved into a comparison of the rampant imperialism of the time vs. rising Canadian nationalism:

“…the voyage of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada to the Aldershot exercises of 1910 serves as an excellent metonymic device for helping to understand Canada’s military history and sense of nationhood within the Empire at an important moment in the country’s history. That it is such a unique story only makes it better in the telling.”

Our thanks to MCpl Mouriopoulos for allowing us to reprint his paper in a multi-part series on our blog. Here is Part III.


“A Serious Piece of Business”:
Sir Henry Pellatt, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, and the “English Trip” of 1910

Part III “The English Trip”: The Expedition

With characteristic flair, Sir Henry planned a going-away party on 13 August 1910 that would ensure that no one would be ignorant of his regiment’s departure. The departing battalion, 632 strong, combined with officer cadets from the Royal Military College, youth cadets from nearby Upper Canada College, the bands of the Royal Grenadiers (now the Royal Regiment of Canada), the 48th Highlanders and the Governor-General’s Body Guard (now the Governor General’s Horse Guards), and 250 ex- members of the Queen’s Own for an inspection and march from the University Avenue armouries to Union Station, where they would depart to Montreal. In addition, the ex-members would present Lady Pellatt with an exquisite gold medallion beset with diamonds and rubies, in honour of her earlier work with the earlier pageant. The regiment also brought along a mascot of sorts: seventy-six year old Rifleman Charles Ellingsworth, who had served with British forces in Crimea and the Indian Mutiny before settling in Canada. Sir Henry, in an act of some generosity, offered to take the man to his native Scotland to visit his old regiment, the 93rd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. [50]

Toronto was only too happy to oblige Sir Henry. The Toronto World, not always a supporter of Pellatt in the past, reflected the exultant local mood in its 18 August front page:

…expenditure does not measure its importance. For the presence in the motherland of a corps thoroly [sic] representative of the Canadian national army, will do more than any other thing to impress her people with the belief that the assistance of the overseas British states in time of imperial danger is worth having and preserving. No act of any single man could bring the United Kingdom into closer touch with her daughter states than this splendid act of Sir Henry Pellatt. Without it he ranked among the most enthusiastic and capable of militia officers with the British Empire – its achievement will make him the most distinguished. Praise is his due portion and the hope that his munificent liberality will be an example, and encouragement and an incentive to other wealthy men who can think patriotically, not to be content until they have made a similar sacrifice for closer imperial union, and more efficient imperial defence. [51]

Here the ties of imperial duty and collaboration were front and centre, along with slight hyperbolic praise of Pellatt’s gift. The British newspapers agreed with the sentiment: readers were told that they“do not require an evidence of the loyalty, attachment, and true Imperialism of the Canadian people” [52] on the evidence of the Aldershot trip, while another article from The Northern Whig declared that the trip proved that “there is already in the Dominion much more than the germ of a mighty nation. The Mother Country may well be proud of so promising a daughter.” [53] One of the councilman of the City of London, Mr. J. R. Pakeman of the Ward of Cheap, was recorded as declaring the following in a speech to council:

I have always been impressed – very much impressed – with the feeling of affection and regard towards the Old Country which animates the breasts of Canadians; with their devotion to the Crown and with their desire to maintain and emulate everything that is good in the life and tradition of Great Britain. We have here, in the visit of this regiment, evidences of that patriotism, and their desire for closer affiliation to the Old Country; for a closer knitting together between the Colony and ourselves, and, indeed, between the Mother-country and all the King’s Dominions beyond the seas. [54]

Sir Henry received even more lavish praise from Fleet Street. His links to“an Old Sussex family” were repeated to establish his imperial credentials, as was his achievements as one of the “best- known financiers in the Dominion.” [55]   The fact that he was funding the entire expedition was mentioned in almost every article to do with the trip, too many to recount in full here. “The generosity of the Colonel’s offer was a magnificent proof of his true spirit, softly spoken of but so infrequently put to such practical working as in this instance” [56] gushed the Weekly Dispatch, while the same speech from Councilman Pakeman before council declared that “we must all admire the devotion of Sir Henry Pellatt, the generosity he has shown in the great expenditure to which he has been put…and the keenness he has displayed in bringing his regiment to this country to take part in our manoeuvres.” [57] The Dundee Courier was equally generous, opining that ”Sir Henry’s precedent is patriotic to a decree and too much praise cannot be bestowed upon it,” [58] while The Standard of Empire believed that Sir Henry “set an Imperial and unprecedented example, which, if followed in other parts of the Empire, will have a material effect for good on all British arms.” [59] Mention of the upcoming trip almost with necessity mentioned Pellatt’s charity and its symbolism for the empire.

At the same time, there was a real sense back home of municipal pride in this voyage of local soldiers, as they sought to continue the new established tradition of military prowess that had started with South Africa. In a speech given to the departing regiment, the Mayor of Toronto, George Reginald Geary, recalled

…the occasion when, twelve years ago, [the people of Toronto] had gathered there in immense numbers to send some of those now before him and many others of their citizen soldiery to fight…on the veldts of South Africa. They went with high hopes, they acquitted themselves nobly, they brought credit to Canada, and through their efforts…the victory was won….[The Queen’s Own] would on the present occasion do nothing but [bring] credit to the city of Toronto and the Dominion of Canada. The people of that country and of that city felt that regiment went to represent them, and they had absolute confidence that the regiment would represent them well in every particular. [60]

Similar sentiments were carried forth in speeches from Sir John M. Gibson, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, and Sir James P. Whitney, Premier of Ontario, along with the usual mentions of imperial duty and a united Empire. [61]  In addition, a report produced by a special executive committee from the Province of Ontario for the expedition added that the trip would “be appreciated…by the people of Ontario and of Canada…and will be hailed as another evidence of the proud devotion of the officers and men of the Canadian Militia.” [62]   Pellatt’s men were certainly there to fall under British command, but also to demonstrate the skill and capability of the Canadian soldier, no longer “Tommy’s” junior.

In the end, Sir Henry’s return speech at the ceremony neatly encapsulated the mix of nationalist and imperialist sentiment behind the expedition:

I wished to mark the jubilee year of the Queen’s Own Rifles by some memorable events. The “Queen’s Own” has done splendid service for Toronto and for Canada, and deserves every recognition which we can give it. The City of Toronto has always been proud of the regiment, and the Dominion has reason to congratulate itself upon the record of this important unit in the Canadian Militia….In the second place – and this is a reason which weighed still more strongly with me – I believed that I could render a service to the Empire by taking over to the Motherland a Militia regiment from the Overseas Dominions. I felt that it would afford a striking proof of the underlying unity of the fighting forces of the Empire, and that it would strengthen the cause of Imperial consolidation. The love of Canadians for the Motherland is deep-rooted and enduring. Nothing can kill it. But, like other noble passions, it needs opportunity to expression from time to time. It was my ambition to afford one such opportunity, and I firmly believe that the visit of our regiment to England will have an enormous influence for good by strengthening patriotism and devotion to the Empire on both sides of the Atlantic.” [63]

After the speeches were complete, the parade to Union Station began. Cheering crowds escorted the Queen’s Own down the route as the bands played “Auld Lang Syne” and “The Girl I Left Behind Me.” Pellatt’s ambition had been matched by a city’s enthusiasm to make the event a memorable one. [64]

Again, Berger’s conclusion that “imperialism, military preparedness, and militarism…were inextricably bound together” in the pre-war years is proven an adroit one.

It was not all pomp and circumstance, however. Pellatt’s experiences on previous trips to the United Kingdom pressed on him the need for preparation, and he had no wish to be embarrassed: long before the parades and the speeches, and while at the height of his financial and command powers in 1910, he devoted much resources to avoid the same problems. Almost two months before the trip began, on 29 June 1910, the regiment was called to parade and the members making up the overseas battalion were separated for private training. Employers were worked with carefully to ensure maximum participation for the expedition, important in a time before legislation protected militia members from all but the most minimum of commitments. As well, Pellatt helped secure insurance for the men from the city council in Toronto, which did much to assuage the worries of those participating. Most revolutionary, however, was the introduction of three pieces of equipment: a second khaki uniform, complete with long puttees for the legs, to complement the tradition “rifle green” kit taken to South Africa; the Oliver load-bearing harness, which was intended to keep wearers self-sufficient for longer stretches of time; and the Ross rifle, which would see some of its first “action” at the Aldershot exercises. While these items were “destined to plague the Canadian Army for some years,” they were seen as state-of-the-art in 1910 and very much part of Canada’s military future; the khaki uniform in particular, later to be adopted nationally, was almost certainly response to Pellatt’s earlier experiences  in the UK. [65]   While always a man for public finery and conspicuous displays, Sir Henry knew that much was needed if his boys were to keep up in Aldershot.

More of this type of thinking would be evident at the first stop on the tour. After arriving by train in Montreal on 14 August, the battalion marched the next day to Quebec City and then across the river to Lévis. Prior to the construction of the base at Valcartier in August 1914 just north-west of Quebec, the latter offered the best of both training space and proximity to local armouries and arsenals, as well as a freshwater port. For one week, the QOR underwent “intensive” training. Drill, route marches, tactics and lectures on deportment and duties were meted out by one Captain Butcher and eight junior officers from the Royal Canadian Regiment of the Permanent Force. These were a gift from Major-General Otter, to help his old regiment in their preparations for exercises the likes of which few in the Queen’s Own had likely seen. Officers were not exempt, which Barnard claims to have helped improve morale tremendously. “The RCR,” it was claimed, “did marvels in a week.”

The presence of Captain “Butch” Butcher and his fellow RCR instructors is an important  symbol of what Morton calls the initial “moment of Canadian militarism,” or that period between 1909- 1914 when an “apparent convergence of civilian and military interests” occurred in Canada. [66]   While there is no doubt that the “central myth in the history of Canadian arms,” as J.L. Granatstein explains, “is, and always has been, that the colonists and citizens provide for their own defence,” [67] there was also by 1910 a growing recognition of “the limitations of inadequately trained volunteers” from a “identifiable group of professionally minded militia officers.” [68]   Specifically, the early 20th Century   bore witness to a “growing acceptance of the Permanent Force as its instructional value became more widely appreciated in the militia.” [69] The regulars knew how to shoot, how to lead, and how to instill proper discipline, which was necessary for a group of men that met for training only sparingly over the course of a year. As the Toronto World reported on the Lévis training, “office clerks, university students and others who activities in civil life are largely mental [were] being given the treatment meted out to recruits for the regular army.” More succinctly: “the screws were being put on in all ways.” [70]

After the training,a couple of mess dinners with local regiments in Quebec City and an inspection from Major-General Otter himself, it was time for “Blighty.” The troops boarded the celebrated ocean liner S.S. Megantic on 20 August and spent a week in good weather crossing the Atlantic. Tug-of-war competitions and other activities were led by accompanying Padre J.P.D. Lwyd to keep the men fresh, while Sir Henry entertained the Hon. Rudolphe Lemieux, the Postmaster-General, who was on his way to London for Dominion business. By chance, the same liner was also carrying  the infamous Dr. Hawley Crippen and his lover Ethel La Neve on their way to trial for the murder of Crippen’s wife; by the time the QOR arrived at Liverpool, the regiment had acquired the grisly nickname of “Crippen’s Own.” The weather held up, and the unit arrived in Britain without any issues. [71]

In what was to become a pattern repeated across the country, the reception in Liverpool was boisterous and warm. It included some high-ranking dignitaries, General Sir Charles Burnett (Commander-in-Chief Western Command) and the Lord Mayor of Liverpool (Mr. F.C. Bowring)  among them. The “Maple Leaf” was played by a local military band as the troops descended, and with good reason beyond its obvious patriotic qualities: its writer, Alexander Muir, was a Queen’s Own veteran of Ridgeway, and the tune was one of two official marches of the regiment. Speeches were made and a parade through town to the train station was met by “multitudes of citizens” with a “profound interest” in the new visitors. [72]   From there it was on to Aldershot, where the process was repeated after their 10:00pm arrival: an honour guard led by Major-General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien  (a hero of the South African War and then-General Officer Commanding of the Aldershot camp), a welcome parade with no less than five bands, and a parade through “thronged and decorated streets” to the “luxury of straw mattresses and wooden floors” at the Aldershot camp, the permanent training camp to His Majesty’s armies. [73]

Of note is the conclusion of Sir Henry’s speech at Liverpool: that the regiment had come for “the sole object” of “a further study in the art of warfare,” and that his hope was that his troops would “carry away to Canada many good object lessons and many military ideas,” which they hoped to “teach others” back home. [74]  Though Sir Henry himself would avoid most of the strenuous work of actual soldiering, this stressing of the practical dimension of his trip to his hosts is noteworthy. In addition to what has already been said, this was also because the manoeuvres in question were one of the news events of the summer in Great Britain: one paper reported that they were of “a very special interest for everybody,” chiefly because of their “unexampled scale.” As the Express and Star on 2 September 1910 explained,

It can safely be said that never before have the plans of the manoeuvres been so comprehensive; certainly they have never before provided for the introduction of so many novelties. And all the new departments are important….Motor traction is being employed on a scale hitherto unknown; the most marvellous of modern developments in telegraphy – the wireless system – are being used in the field; and last, but certainly by no means least, the airship and the aeroplane take for the first time a prominent place in the scheme of things. [75]

Almost 30,000 troops would part in an exercise that would cover most of the Salisbury Plain, a territory covering one hundred miles east to west and forty miles north to south. Soldiers from the Regular Army, reservists, a mounted brigade, the Officer Training Corps were meshed with the Queen’s Own to form two full divisions, with both engaging in campaign against the other. Never before had the annual exercises included mobilization of such a scale, nor dealt with such inter-divisional tactics. As the   same article continued, “the truth is the whole plan of campaign is designed upon the scale of elaboration which provides the most exacting test to which the Army has ever been put in time of peace.” Updates on troop movements and results would be published daily throughout the exercises. [76]

This integration suited both the Queen’s Own and its Canadian observers just perfectly. In reaction to the problems and criticism wrought by the pageantry of such events as the Quebec Tercentenary, and in an attempt to rediscover (or reaffirm) the qualities that had brought Canadian troops respect in the Transvaal at the turn of the century, many Canadian military officers were beginning by 1910 to look to British training methods to re-invigorate the stagnating militia. This had started at the Imperial Conference of 1907, even before the Tercentenary, when Canada accepted the principle of imperial military cooperation, even though Laurier (then Prime Minister) was uneasy at the idea of full automatic military commitments to the Mother Country. [77]  As a result, Canada began organizing its army on British lines: training and equipment were imported and/or copied from Britain, while attempts at national standardization were begun, though it would take the crisis of the First World War to really make these effective (the QOR’s khaki uniform was one such product). As James Wood explains, “there was a marked emphasis on efficiency and practicality,” which kept in line “with wider trends in civil society.” [78]

One did not have to look further than the Queen’s Own home of Toronto for evidence this: in 1906, then Colonel Otter successfully pushed Toronto’s annual training “battle” from local parks to farther Erindale and insisted on enhanced realism in the practice. [79]  As Barnard observed of the QOR’s own participation in these, “a lot of genuine military endeavour went into these exercises…scouts crawled forward to feel out the enemy’s strength and positions; flanking parties manoeuvred to prevent encirclement; shelter trenches were dug; cover was used to advantage: all very elementary perhaps, but just as fundamental now as then.” [80]  A.T. Thompson, the editor of the Canadian Military Gazette in 1907, added approvingly of the trend that “in nothing is this commonsense method of conducting militia training more in evidence than in carrying forces to unfamiliar localities in which to be exercised in field work.” [81]  The Queen’s Own were in Britain for just this kind of work.

It was also a time of similar transformation in the British Army, one which would have great impact on colonial militia policy. In 1909, Lord Haldane, the celebrated British secretary of state for war, began a program to reorganize his country’s land forces with an eye to simultaneously defending the home islands, garrisoning the Empire overseas, and taking an active hand on the continent in the event of a European war. In short, he was attempting to bring Great Britain out of its “splendid isolation” some years before the start of the First World War. [82]   This included, among other things, the integration of the colonial armies into an imperial defence scheme. That the QOR made a point of visiting was not unnoticed by those who sought to argue in favour of Lord Haldane’s reforms. An editorial printed in the Northern Whig encapsulates the feeling of approval from those observing:

In all portions of the Empire there is a strong and growing desire for consolidation and for that unity in the fighting forces which makes them impregnable. As a military correspondent puts it in the Times, “the system of co-operation, with its elastic ties of sympathy, sentiment, and self-interest, forms a basis of concerted action which, while leaving each individual self-governing unit free to act, establishes at the same time a power of combined effort and of combined resources which makes for success when the national interests of one or of the whole may be seriously threatened by outside influences”…. [83]

General Sir John French, later Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force in the first two years of World War One, visited Canada a few months before the Aldershot expedition to review the troops and make a report both to British and Canadian Parliaments on the state of the colonial militia. He too concluded that “success in war depends to-day more than ever upon the harmonious working together of the different arms of service….Such advantage can only be gained if the peace organization of troops is assimilated to that which is required for war.”84   He looked favourably on the field training conducted in annual camps such as that in Erindale and dismissed the “imperial splendour” of events such as the Tercentenary. As Wood notes, these British views “began to exert a steadily increasing impact on Canadian military thought from 1909 to 1911.” [85]

Thus, the Queen’s Own and their British observers were only too happy to place the unit in the 6th Brigade, Second Division for the manoeuvres. They were specifically attached to the 1st East Kent (the Buffs), a line infantry regiment of long history and distinction. The pairing with “the Buffs” was not by chance: it was the Buff’s own “Regimental Quick Step of the Buffs,” composed by Handel, that the Queen’s Own had adopted as their other regimental march in 1882 with the permission of the  British regiment. [86]   There was also a practical element to this: before the exercise, there was to be more training. Marches of fifteen and eighteen miles were ordered to bring the regiment up to speed and rifle and tactical drills were interspersed throughout the week of 28 August to 4 September to teach the Canadians the “way of war.” In ominous foreshadowing of the years to come, problems with the new Ross rifle (jamming) and the Oliver equipment harness (painful and difficult to use) would bedevil the Torontonians throughout the week. They battled “typical English weather” – i.e., rain – and a lack of sleep as their commanders prepared them for the “war” to come (Sir Henry notably did not partake in this training). [87]   Still, by all accounts the QOR gave a “creditable” account of themselves: the  Chronicle on 31 August repeated a praise seen in many papers, reporting that “everyone praises the bearing and work of the men,” and that “their work and their evident desire to learn all that there is to be learned…has won for them the esteem and respect of the troops of all ranks.” [88]

Though the details of the exercise are not of great interest beyond the war college, a brief description shows that all of the training did indeed pay off. The manoeuvres began in earnest on 5 September, and the Queen’s Own were quickly in “the thick of the fight.” [89]  After several days of marching to and fro, they surprised and “engaged” The East Yorks near Basingstoke on the 10th and did so well with cover that the umpires decreed that they had wiped out half of the latter. The QOR also learned some harsh lessons: the next day, the 1st Brigade, First Division, comprised entirely of crack Guards units, re-took Basingstoke through an “audacious” twenty-two mile march, and the unit had to fall back. The equipment continued to bother, but in the end, what was important was that nowhere  was the regiment described as a burden: they kept up with the permanent Regular troops of Aldershot Command, a feat that was no small task for a part-time and largely untested militia unit from Canada. The Daily News recorded that the Canadians treated their first action at Basingstoke with “joy,” and it  is not hard to believe that the adventure of it all was of great pleasure to the men. [90]

Two major inspections were held during the exercises: one for the whole brigade on the starting morning, under the auspices of Major-General Sir Henry Smith-Dorrien, and an impromptu and surprise inspection at Avington Park of the Queen’s Own alone on the 8th of September, conducted by His Royal Highness Prince Albert, the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. Again, the choice of Albert was significant: he had served as a young subaltern alongside Queen’s Own men at the 1870 Red River Rebellion and was highly regarded in Canada (and indeed would be appointed Governor-General to the Canada the next year). His widely printed speech to the regiment speaks to the appreciative and approving sentiments of the British commanders towards the Queen’s Own:

I have been sent here to-day by his Majesty the King to see your regiment and welcome   you in his name to England….I hope that your visit to this country will have pleasure for  you all, and that you will carry back recollections of good comradeship with the British Army, that you will have seen the way in which our Army is trained, and that you will go back with much information and many recollections of different occasions on which you have worked with the British Regular troops. From what I have seen of you, you have most excellent material in your ranks. [91]

Special praise was reserved for Sir Henry:

In bringing this regiment from Canada to this country you have performed a great and Imperial service. You have shown us the material of which the Canadian regiments are made, and you have show that the same patriotism and devotion to our Sovereign are in your ranks and those of other regiments of Canada as exists in the British Army here. [92]

The confluence of patriotic and imperial duty, the mix of pageantry and practical examination: it was  all present and witnessed by Prince Albert and others observing the Queen’s Own. Sir Henry could barely hide his pride in a loquacious response echoing the same themes. This speech was followed by a parade of the 1st Guards Brigade (composed of 1st Scots Guards and 1st Irish Guards), perhaps some of the best troops in the entire country. [93]  The invite to witness the display of drill and movement, combined with favourable reviews from the two inspections, meant that the Queen’s Own were well and truly integrated into the manoeuvre forces.

The “English trip” was not all about work, however. Indeed, the highlight for most of the men surely began on 13 September, when they took a “welcome respite” from the exercises to visit nearby London for five days. They departed Hampshire to Nine Elms Station by train and, after being met by the band of the Irish Guards and given a tour of their quarters at the Duke of York’s School at Chelsea Barracks, the men were given free reign to explore the city for a couple of days. [94]  A small brochure was provided to each man as well, listing the “important” stops and suggested walking tours for the curious soldier.95   Sir Henry personally provided $12 for each man to take in the local sites, coming through on a promise made at the onset of the trip to show the men a grand time. [96]   Not that they needed much of the money: local theatres provided blocs of seats for free each night (including such landmarks as the Tivoli, the London Pavilion Cinema House, and Maskelyne and Devant’s [97]), and both men and officers frequently ate at the invite of generous hosts, including with King Edward’s Horse, the Honourable Artillery Company, and even the personal table of Sir John French for the officers. Tours were organized of the new super-dreadnought at the Thames Ironworks, the HMS Thunderer, while the Cork Constitution noted that many Canadians were seen visiting the key sites, chiefly Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. [98]   Doubtlessly, the men enjoyed themselves thoroughly.

That the troops would visit London amid their training is no surprise. As Cecilia Morgan points out in her ‘A Happy Holiday’: English Canadians and Transatlantic Tourism, 1870-1930, London was more than just the capital of the “home” country: for, “in its historic buildings, public spectacles of empire and nation, cultural venues, and displays of consumption, it offered English-speaking Canadian tourists numerous opportunities to explore and articulate the interlinked meanings of…modernity, nation, and empire.” London was as grand and stimulating as it was covered in shared social, cultural, and religious heritage; its traditional sites – Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Parliament, etc. – mixed with exotic reminders of a widespread empire – Indian soldiers, Chinese silk stores, an array of visiting continental European diplomats, and more. At the same time that most Canadians were “no strangers to London,” bred and educated as they were with a litany of news articles, travel books, periodicals and public lectures about London’s significance, actually visiting London promised English Canadian visitors “countless… social and cultural encounters and experiences” to “map out a panorama of a modern nation and empire in overlapping and converging moments, in ways both intellectual and sensory.” The trip across the Atlantic to Liverpool and down the southbound train – a trip the QOR itself made, if in a roundabout way – was very much part of the English Canadian experience of empire

by 1910. The experience was not entirely passive either: by exploring the city and actively interacting with its inhabitants, the Canadians forced “Little Britain…to realize that there is a greater Britain, that the people who live in the colonies are beings with souls, and sense, and intelligence, and culture, and feeling, and breeding and brains – just as other Britishers have.” From a Canadian perspective, visits to London and other locales in the United Kingdom “not only affirmed these anglophone Canadians’  links to British history and the British state,” but also “reminded Canadians that, through their ties to Britain, they were part of the larger imagined community of the British Empire.” They wanted to participate in the greater project and, of course, receive the respect that entailed: “being a ‘Canadian,’ who was part of the British Empire, could mean inheriting ‘British’ democratic traditions…but it also could mean playing a role in contemporary British society and culture.” [99]

This was certainly the case for the 16th of September, the “most memorable day” of the trip according to the 1939 reunion programme and a “red-letter day” for the regiment according to Pellatt himself. [100]   Following an inspection by the Lord Roberts and no less than General William Nicholson, Chief of The General Staff (professional head of the British Army), the regiment lead a parade with the band of the Coldstream Guards through Knightsbridge, Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Newgate and Cheapside, surrounded by crowds “in such numbers as to recall the Queen Victoria jubilee celebrations.” [101] The ultimate destination was Guildhall, headquarters of the City of London Corporation, where the entire regiment was to dine at the invite of the Corporation. Still the administrative and ceremonial centre of the City of London today, Guildhall’s main hall in 1910 was  one of the most esteemed meeting places and event centres in the entire empire, the site of Jubilee balls, the Lord Mayor’s Banquet and other grand occasions. To be invited en masse was no small thing. A seven course meal was served to all ranks, each with its own liquor accompaniment: the men enjoyed themselves to the full, and Major Lindsey fondly recorded in the 1939 reunion programme that “there was not a single casualty on the way home.” [102]   The officers then attended a reception in the library, where they met Lord Haldane, the Governor of the Bank of England, the Chairman of the London County Council, the inspecting generals of the morning, three ex-Governors-General of Canada – the Duke of Argyll, Lord Lansdowne, and Lord Aberdeen – and Lord Strathcona, the High Commissioner of Canada to London. [103]  Here was imperial pageantry at its finest; and yet, at the same time, proud Canadians making themselves heard and known in “contemporary British society and culture,” as Morgan observed. For a few hundred “office clerks and university students” from the colonies, it was a remarkable event.

The rest of the trip could not possibly measure up to this level of grand ceremony, nor did it try. On the morning of 20 September, the Queen’s Own returned to Hampshire and the summer manoeuvres. The QOR’s participation largely consisted of frantic marches to-and-fro and chasing retreating enemies from hilltops, but no matter; the result was not important. Under Lieutenant- General Plumer (later hero of the Second Battle of Ypres), the Queen’s Own completed their moves with efficiency and acumen. [104]   Of note is that Sir Henry did not return with the unit. Instead, he represented the regiment at several functions: namely, he dined with the Empress Eugénie (widow to Napoleon III) and members of the Savage Club, inspected and presented the colours to Boy Scouts at Lord Rothschild’s estate; and even took the time to visit the tomb of General Wolfe, at which he laid a wreath on behalf of the regiment. [105]   For Sir Henry, there were never too many opportunities to represent the regiment – or himself – in the name of Canada and Empire. The manoeuvres finally ended on 23 September, and by all accounts they were entirely successful.

The regiment suffered one casualty during the entire journey: Lieutenant Roy Gzowski, grandson to Colonel Sir Casimir Stanislaus Gzowski, the Welland Canal chief engineer. With a few others, he had contracted a strain of typhoid during the first round of training at Aldershot and was kept in the Royal Cambridge Hospital at Aldershot during the London trip. While the others’ conditions stabilized, his worsened quickly, and he passed away on 25 September. He was buried in Aldershot with full military honours, with Lord Strathcona representing the Canadian government in an official capacity. As Barnard describes, the “receipt of the news was a sad blow,” for he was a “popular and promising young officer.” [106]

It was thus with heavy hearts that the Queen’s Own finally left for home, though they had to leave before the funeral. They left directly from Aldershot to Liverpool on 24 September, once again with full parade and escort. Before they left, the famed military publishers Gale & Polden issued every man a coloured folder which depicted the regiments of the British Army in full dress, along with  tailored souvenirs of the Queen’s Own visit; a copy of this “much-prized souvenir” is still contained in the regimental archives, and it remains a beautiful memento. The trip home was in complete contrast to the one over, as bad weather, cramped accommodations and poor weather on the S.S. Canada made for a less-than-comfortable return. At one point, the men even submitted a protest to the shipping company over breach of contract. Calmer heads prevailed, but it was definitely with relief that the men arrived   in Quebec City on 2 October. From there it was quickly on to Montreal and then Toronto by train, with the regiment finally arriving at North Toronto Station at 5:00pm, 3 October 1910. Major Geary led a civic welcome at the station and another march past to the armouries was conducted with the aide of   the Royal Canadian Dragoons, where cheering crowds evidently met the Queen’s Own one more time. In light of Lieutenant Gzowski’s death and the general fatigue of the men, however, the regiment was then quickly dismissed without the speeches seen at its departure. Almost a month and a half after it had begun, “the English trip” had come to an end. [107]

Part IV: The Conclusion


[50] Oreskovich, Sir Henry Pellatt, 91-4, and Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 93-5.

[51] The Toronto World, 2 April 1910, as quoted in Oreskovich, Sir Henry Pellatt, 92

[52] “Decision to Accord Civic Welcome,” The Standard, 7 August 1910, in scrapbook 2233, #26, AQOR

[53] “The Canadian Army,” The Northern Whig, 30 August 1910, in scrapbook 2233, #6, AQOR

[54] “Decision to Accord Civic Welcome,” The Standard, 7 August 1910, in scrapbook 2233, #26, AQOR

[55] “A Crack Canadian Corps,” unsourced, August 1910, in scrapbook 9999, #17, AQOR

[56] “The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada,” Weekly Dispatch, undated, in scrapbook 2233, #7, AQOR

[57] “Decision to Accord Civic Welcome,” The Standard, 7 August 1910, in scrapbook 2233, #26, AQOR

[58] “Visit of the Canadian Rifle Regiment,” Dundee Courier, 29 August 1910, in scrapbook 2233, #7, AQOR

[59] “Scenes and Incidents of a Notable Trip,” The Standard of Empire, 2 September 1910, in scrapbook 2233, #24, AQOR

[60] As quoted in “Enthusiastic Send-Off in Canada,” unsourced, 14 August 1910, in scrapbook 9999, #20, AQOR.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Oreskovich, Sir Henry Pellatt, 95-6.

[65] Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 92-3. A humourous description of the khakis follows from Barnard: “In some measure, the khaki uniform restored a degree of the natural height of the men. At that time, the QOR had the best average height in the garrison; but rifle green – unlike scarlet and the kilt which seem to magnify – makes a man look slimmer and smaller.”

[66] Desmond Morton, “The Cadet Movement in the Moment of Canadian Militarism,” Journal of Canadian Studies 13, 2 (Summer 1978): 56-68.

[67] Granatstein, Canada’s Army,

[68] Wood, Militia Myths,

[69] Ibid., 124.

[70] Toronto World, undated, as quoted in Oreskovich, Sir Henry Pellatt, 98

[71] Oreskovich, Sir Henry Pellatt, 102-6; Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 97

[72] “A Hearty Reception,” Belfast Newsletter, 29 August 1910, also re-printed in the Irish Times 29 August 1910 and the Cork Examiner, 29 August 1910; all found in scrapbook 2233, #8, AQOR.

[73] “Arrival of the O.R. from Canada,” undated, unsourced, in scrapbook 9999, #43, AQOR; also “A Hearty Welcome,” The Western Times, 29 August 1910, in scrapbook 2233, #9, AQOR.

[74] As quoted in the Aberdeen Free Press, 29 August 1910, in scrapbook 2233, #2, AQOR

[75] “The Army Manoeuvres,” Express and Star, 2 September 1910, re-printed in The Bournemouth Echo, 2 September 1910; both in scrapbook 2233, #37, Also, “50,000 Troops,” Daily News, 1 September 1910, in scrabook 2233, #15, AQOR, which has the added benefit of an excellent map of the training area.

[76] Ibid.

[75] Wood, Militia Myths,

[76] Ibid.

[77] Desmond Morton, The Canadian General: Sir William Otter (Toronto: Hakkert, 1974), 274-5.

[80] Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 68-9.

[81] A.T. Thompson, “Autumn Manoeuvres,” Canadian Military Gazette 22, 18 (24 September 1907): 6.

[82] As summarized in Wood, Militia Myths, 148-9.

[83] “The Canadian Army,” The Northern Whig, 30 August 1910, in scrapbook 2233, #6, AQOR

[84] General John French, “Report by General Sir John French, C.B., G.C.V.O., K.C.M.G., Inspector-General of the Imperial Forces, Upon his Inspection of the Canadian Military Forces,” Sessional Papers, 1911, no. 35a.

[85] Wood, Militia Myths, 149

[86] Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, Curiously, Barnard makes no mention of Alexander Muir’s contribution of “The Maple Leaf.”

[87] See “Canadian Rifles at Aldershot,” Morning Post, 1 September 1910; “Lesson for the O.R.,” Daily Express, 1 September 1910; “Hard Work at Aldershot,” Leicester Mail, 1 September 1910; “Canadian Rifles,” Daily Telegraph, 3 September 1910; all in scrapbook 2233, #10-17, AQOR. Also Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 98-9.

[88] “Skirmishing & Marching at Aldershot,” London Chronicle, 31 August 1910, in scrapbook 2233, #4, AQOR

[89] “Canadians in the Thick of the Fight,” Daily News, 10 September 1910; “Canadians Take Prisoners,” Daily Telegraph, 12 September 1910; untitled, Standard of Empire, 9 September 1910; all in scrapbook 2251, #50-62, AQOR

[90] Ibid.

[91] “Canadian Rifles Inspected by the Duke of Connaught,” The Hampshire Advertiser, 9 September 1910; “The Duke and the Canadians,” Daily News, 9 September 1910; “A Message from the King,” Daily Graphic, 9 September 1910; “Duke’s Royal Message of Congratulations,” Military Mail, 9 September 1910; “King’s Message to Canadian Troops,” Daily Mail, 8 September 1910; all in scrapbook 2251 #54-61, AQOR.

[92] Ibid.

[93] Ibid. Also see Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 98. “Here, indeed, was something to emulate!” as the Colonel says.

[94] “Canadians and City,” Evening News, 7 September 1910; “Arrangements for a Welcome,” Birmingham Post, 7 September 1910; “City’s Welcome to the Canadians,” Evening Standard, 7 September 1910; “Canadian Rifles to Visit London,” Liverpool Daily Post, 7 September 1910; all in scrapbook 2233, #44-5.

[95] Ibid. A copy of this brochure is actually preserved in the AQOR, in a drawer for future archiving.

[96] Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 99.

[97] “Canadian Rifles: Visit to London,” Daily Telegraph, 7 September 1910, in scrapbook 2251, #42, AQOR

[98] “London Letter,” Cork Constitution, 5 September 1910;

[99] Morgan, ‘A Happy Holiday’, 172-201. Though Morgan does not discuss soldiers specifically in her work, her conclusions do not lose any of their validity in light of the QOR’s visit.

[100]  Lindsey, “The English Trip,” 1910 re-union programme, AQOR. The quote from Pellatt is also quoted in Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 99.

[101] “Guildhall Luncheon,” Globe, 7 September 1910; “City of London’s Invitation,” Morning Advertiser, 7 September 1910; “City’s Welcome to the Canadians,” Evening Standard, 7 September 1910; “Luncheon at the Guildhall,” Daily Mail, 7 September 1910; in scrapbook 2233, #43-6, AQOR.

[102] Lindsey, “The English Trip,” 1910 re-union programme, AQOR.

[103] See note 99.

[104] Unfortunately, primary sources for this second round of manoeuvres are sparse among the records AQOR, as they are for anything that followed the London and Balmoral expeditions (see below). For complete descriptions of what followed, see Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 101, and Oreskovich, Sir Henry Pellatt, 116.

[105] Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 101.

[106] Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 101-2, and Oreskovich, Sir Henry Pellatt, 116-7.

[107] Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 102-3, and Oreskovich, Sir Henry Pellatt, 1167-8.

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