Category Archives: Remembrance

Get Out and Remember Them

Now that the – mostly – good weather has arrived, it’s time to get out and about. As odd as it might sound, Toronto has some beautiful cemeteries. They’re a great place to get some exercise and remember those members of our regiment (and the WWI battalions that we perpetuate) who have served in the past.  These include everyone from riflemen to a full general.

The oldest and most historic cemetery in Toronto is Necropolis which was created in 1850 in the east end of Cabbagetown.  So far we’ve identified over a dozen QOR buried here including six who were killed in action, died of wounds, or died of sickness attributed to their service at the Battle of Ridgeway in 1866.

Lieutenant Colonel R.B. Hamilton’s grave had never had a marker and we are very pleased that one has just recently been installed by the Last Post Fund.

A short distance north of Necropolis is St James Cemetery at Parliament and Bloor St where we identified almost fifty QOR gravesites including the first commanding officer, Colonel Durie, and other Fenian Raid casualties.

Another almost fifty QOR graves or memorials have been identified in Mt Pleasant Cemetery (Mt Pleasant north of St Clair East) which is also considered an arboretum and extremely well maintained. Like the others, these include riflemen to commanding officers and every rank in between.

Be sure to check out our Ontario Cemeteries page for more Toronto cemeteries with QOR and maps such as Park Lawn, Pine Hills, Prospect, and a few outside of Toronto as well. And although most of these are mapped yet, we have identified a number of QOR in cemeteries outside of Ontario too.

This work is definitely “in progress” so if you have any information you can add on where QOR riflemen are buried in Canada, please share it with us in a comment below or email to 

Accidental Death of Rifleman Nussey

We recently were sent an 1870 newspaper clipping which reported on the tragic rifle range death of a QOR soldier which was unknown to us.

Rifleman George H. Nussey was born in Breton, Yorkshire, England in October 1846, son of Joseph Nussey and Sarah Holmes.

Its not known exactly when he immigrated to Canada however on 20 February 1869 he married Margaret Frear in Toronto. On 19 November 1869 they had a son George Henry Nussey.

According to the nominal roll in the regimental archives, Nussey joined the QOR on the 22nd October 1868 and was a member of No. 2 Company.

He was employed as a machinist with Messrs. Dickey & Neill.

On 15 April 1870, a tragic accident occurred during a No. 2 Company range day at the Garrison Common, when Nussey was shot in the head after fellow rifleman Arthur Gascoigne* accidentally discharged his Snider-Enfield.

The 23 year old Nussey died almost immediately and was buried in Necropolis Cemetery Plot Q58 TT 1/2.

The Regimental Order of 16 April 1870 stated:

“The Regiment will parade on Sunday the 17th inst at 2:30 pm on the corner of Queen St and Denison Ave for the purpose of attending the funeral of the late Private Geo Nussey who was accidentally shot on the 15th inst while at target practice.”

*Gascoigne, who was understandably distraught, was arrested at the scene, however we have found no record as to what subsequently took place, such as a coroner’s inquest or a criminal trial to indicate his fate. Over two years later, the Regimental Orders of 18 May 1872 (page 212) indicate that Gascoigne was struck off strength having “left the limits.”

Virtutis Gloria Merces – Glory, The Reward of Virtue

by guest author Capt. B. E. Taylor, CD, MA (Ret’d)

Note that this was originally written as a university course paper and consequently follows a fairly rigid referencing protocol.  

William Kimber. Hart House and Soldiers’ Tower. May 15, 2009. Accessed June 16, 2020.

War memorials are meant to commemorate the sacrifices that have preceded their erection.  Particularly for those commemorating the dead of the Great War, they address “some of the complex issues of victimhood and bereavement.[1]  “Glory, the reward of virtue” is a translation of the Latin inscription on a carillon bell in the University of Toronto’s Soldiers’ Tower, which commemorates the university’s war dead,[2]  and suggests a linkage between sacrifice and redemption.


The bells in Soldiers Tower, University of Toronto.

Soldiers’ Tower is evidence that government (at all its levels) and the state are not, nor should they be, the only sources of memory and mourning.  The human sacrifices of war “should never be collapsed into a set of stories formed by or about the state,” and the erection of local and private war memorials helps to bring a local context to the lesions brought by total war.[3]

Other examples in Toronto of such non-public monuments include the war memorials of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and the 48th Highlanders of Canada.  Both units perpetuate overseas battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

15th Battalion CEF (perpetuated by the 48th) marching out of Germany on the road between Esbach and Bensberg, 8 January, 1919
3rd (Toronto) Battalion, largely drawn from the Queen’s Own Rifles, crossing the border into Germany on 4 December 1918.
The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Memorials

Under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Pellatt, the Q.O.R. Ex-Members’ Association was formed October 1, 1916 on his initiative with the primary purpose of sending food and clothing to men of the QOR battalions overseas who had become prisoners-of-war.  It fell dormant after the war but was revived March 8, 1922 with Major General W. D. Otter acting as Chairman, and by March 1923 a Memorial Building Fund had been established.  A decision was made to construct a monument in Queen’s Park instead of erecting a building. That was logical, as the regiment was headquartered just down the street at the University Avenue (Toronto) Armoury located between Armoury and Queen Streets.

University Avenue Armouries

Later still, with the approval of the Rector and Wardens of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 227 Bloor St. East, it was decided that a regimental memorial would be built at St. Paul’s, the Regimental Church.[4]  That conveniently obviated the need to find a site for a suitable monument, particularly given that the 48th Highlanders already had a monument in Queen’s Park.

The regiment also perpetuates the 3rd, 83rd, 95th, 166th, 198th, and 255th Battalions, Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Financing was handled by The Queen’s Own Rifles Memorial Association, a special body created early in 1928 with Brigadier-General J. G. Langton as its President.  The most publicly visible part of the memorial, a Cross of Remembrance, was unveiled and dedicated by the Rector of St. Paul’s, a former regimental chaplain, on October 18, 1931[5].

In its churchyard setting the widely recognizable regimental Cross of Sacrifice speaks for itself as a memorial to those who fought and died during the Great War (and subsequent actions).[6]  The memorial cross is modelled after the Cross of Sacrifice designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield for the Imperial War Graves Commission (now Commonwealth War Graves Commission) in 1918 that is a part of Commonwealth war cemeteries containing 40 or more graves.  The Cross is the most imitated symbol used on Commonwealth memorials[7] .

Base of the QOR Cross of Sacrifice.

Like the original, the QOR cross has a bronze longsword, blade down, mounted on the front of the cross and sits atop an octagonal base.  The Latin cross represents the faith of the majority of the dead and the sword indicates the military nature of the monument.[8]  The Cross is constructed on granite, with reproductions of the regimental and battalion badges on the base and the battle honours from two world wars[9] represented on the plinth and sub-base[10].

A Book of Sacrifice listing members of the regiment who have been killed on service is kept at the Regimental Church, St. Paul’s Anglican.

Inside the church is a small chapel to the rear of the main chancel (west side), dedicated on March 13, 1932.  A carved alabaster table stands on a granite platform (Plate 8) with a glass-topped bronze casket containing the Book of Remembrance atop it.  The names of all QOR soldiers who lost their lives in their country’s service from the Fenian Raid of 1866 to the Korean War are inscribed in the Book.[11]

At each church service at which the regiment is on parade a special party of officers and non-commissioned officers escorts the book to the front of the church.  It is presented to the Commanding Officer, who hands it to the Rector, and it is placed on the alter during the service.  The book is returned to its place of honour at the conclusion of the service.[12]

There being no colours because the QOR is a Rifle Regiment, the Book of Remembrance is the symbol of the regiment’s honour and the memory of “Fallen Comrades,”[13] held by the Church wardens for safekeeping.  Parading the book before the regiment shows the Wardens have fulfilled their trust and that the care of the book and honour are in the hands of all ranks of the regiment.  The Commanding Officer’s handling of the book symbolizes his personal responsibility and its return to the Wardens symbolizes their acceptance of responsibility for safekeeping.[14]

48th Highlanders of Canada Memorials

As with the Queen’s Own memorial, a general aversion toward war prevalent in the 1920s and early 1930s influenced the design of the 48th Highlanders monument and neither is suggestive of a spirit of militarism.  Their inspiration was clearly mourning the dead rather than celebrating military achievements.  Neither mimics Victorian battle monuments nor relies on images from archaic allegory.[15]

The 48th Highlanders perpetuate the 15th, the 92nd and 134th reinforcement battalions, CEF, and the equivalent of two more battalions sent as companies to other units.

A regimental memorial designed by Capt. Eric W. Haldenby[16] was unveiled by Governor-General Baron Byng at the Armistice Day parade in 1923.  The granite column which marks the deaths of 61 officers and 1,406 non-commissioned officers and men of the regiment, was funded by friends, members, and former members and raised during the previous summer. Unlike reliance on an almost universal form for Great War monuments (the Cross of Sacrifice), the 48th Highlanders memorial tried for an aesthetic that would combine a geometric abstraction and a figurative realism (Plate 9).  The obelisk was also an accepted part of the funerary sculpture lexicon.[17]

The South African War Memorial, built in 1910 in remembrance of Canadian participation in the Boer War, stands in the centre of University Avenue just north of Queen Street West in Toronto. The designer, Walter Seymour Allward, is perhaps best known for his Vimy Memorial in France.

The 48th Highlanders monument stands at the north end, or head, of Queen’s Park and looks up Avenue Road.[18]  That location was ideal because like the Queen’s Own, the 48th Highlanders were located in the University Avenue Armoury to the south.  The boulevard opposite the armoury already had several monuments, including the Sons of England Roll of Honour, also unveiled in 1923,[19] and the South African (Boer War) Memorial at the Queen Street intersection[20].

Inscription on 48th Highlanders Monument in Queen’s Park

The 48th memorial site in Queen’s Park was selected because it would be viewed by all south-bound traffic on Queen’s Park Circle as the roadway splits around the park.  The monument has replicas of the Regimental crest carved on each side.  These bear the words “15th Canadian Battalion,” “134 Overseas,” and “92 Overseas” on the south, east, and west sides, respectively.  A carving of a Christian Cross of Sacrifice tops each side.

Some of the 48th Highlanders First World War Battle Honours on the Memorial Monument

An inscription on the (north) face reads: “DILEAS GU BRATH 1914-­1918 To the glorious memory of those who died and to the undying honour of those who served—this is erected by their Regiment—the 48th Highlanders of Canada”[21] (Plate 11). A scabbarded sword is also carved into the stone.  Just as with the QOR Cross of Sacrifice, the 48th Highlanders’ battle honours are inscribed around the monument’s faces[22].

Unlike the Queen’s Own Rifles’ memorial, the 48th Highlanders’ tribute to its fallen is divided between the public monument and a separate accolade in its regimental church elsewhere.  Having split twice over issues in the Church of Scotland and relocating the congregation, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian remained the core of the Town of York’s first Church of Scotland congregation and has been the Highlanders’ regimental church since their founding in 1891.

St. Andrew’s follows the “reformed/ Presbyterian tradition”[23] in worship, of which chapels or shrines like those at St. Paul’s Anglican are not a big part.  Consequently, the regiment’s other memorial at the regimental church is a communion table in the chancel, dedicated on November 11, 1934.  The sergeants of the regiment donated the table in memory of their fallen comrades in World War I and it is now a memorial to the fallen in two world wars and used at every celebration of Holy Communion.

An oak communion table, the gift of the sergeants of the regiment, was dedicated on Remembrance Day, November 11, 1934 by Rev. Dr. Stuart Parker, chaplain of the regiment and minister of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, the regimental church of the 48th Highlanders of Canada.

The oaken table was created by Dr. John A. Pearson,[24] a St. Andrew’s congregant.  There are abutments, about six inches lower, at the ends of the table, and each has an oak top with a plate of glass set into a (lockable) hinged frame.  An inner shelf is approximately 10 inches below the glass on each side, on which lie records.  Like the Queen’s Own Rifles, the 48th Highlanders have a Book of Remembrance.

The right-hand abutment of the communion table contains 25 loose leaf pages listing the names and ranks of 1,818 48th Highlanders dead from the two world wars.  Two pages, with about 120 names in block script, show when the book is open.  The left-hand abutment contains the title page and dedication of the Book of Remembrance on parchment .  The regimental crest and St. Paul’s words “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all to stand” are carved on the left table abutment.


First World War memorials such as those of the Queen’s Own Rifles and the 48th Highlanders were built in an age of meaninglessness stemming from the recent war and serve to mark the value of individuals.  They are not primarily “grand architectural monuments” (Plate 15) but continue a practice in countries of the Empire and Commonwealth of commemorating their role in 20th century conflicts, but without necessarily a sense of the waste and futility of war.[25]  They stand as evidence that mourners in the postwar period would not have favoured memorial aesthetics that were pure abstraction.  In a sense, they mark for us “a sense that everything is over and done with, that something long since begun is now complete.”[26]

An example of the “grand architectural monument” style favoured for many pre-First World War monuments. Another Walter Allward design, this monument on the University of Toronto campus honours nine Queen’s Own Rifles members, including three University of Toronto students, who fell at the Battle of Ridgeway in June 1866. It was sponsored and paid for by Toronto citizens, and dedicated on 1 July 1870.

Barnard, William T. The Queen’s Own Rifles 1860-1960. Don Mills: Ontario Publishing Company Limited, 1960.

“Battle Honours of the Canadian Army – The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.” The Regimental Rogue. Accessed June 8, 2020.

Beattie, Kim. 48th Highlanders of Canada 1891­-1928. Toronto: 48th Highlanders of Canada, 1932.

“Book of Remembrance,” The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum and Archives. Accessed June 8, 2020. 

“Books of Remembrance 1,” Accessed June 8, 2020.

Bradbeer, Janice. “Once Upon A City: Creating Toronto’s Skyline.” Toronto Star, March 24, 2016.

“Canadian Volunteer Memorial.” The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum and Archives. Accessed June 16, 2020.

Charlebois, Marc. “A Skirmisher from The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada at the Cross of Sacrifice.” Accessed June 16, 2020.

“Communion Table St. Andrew’s Church.” Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation. Accessed June 17, 2020.

“Cross of Sacrifice.” Accessed June 17, 2020.

“Cross of Sacrifice.” Wikipedia. Accessed June 7, 2020.

Farrugia, Peter. “A Small Truce in a Big War: The Historial de La Grande Guerre and the Interplay of History and Memory.” Canadian Military History 22, no. 2, (Spring 2013): 63-76.

“Forever Faithful.” Accessed June 17, 2020.

Gough, Paul. “Canada, Conflict and Commemoration: An Appraisal of the New Canadian War Memorial in Green Park, London, and a Reflection on the Official Patronage of Canadian War Art.” Canadian Military History 5, no. 1, (Spring 1996): 26-34.

“Haldenby, Eric Wilson.” University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. Accessed June 16, 2020.

“Historic Toronto,” Accessed June 8, 2020.

“John A. Pearson.” Accessed June 8, 2020.

Kimber, William. “Hart House and Soldiers’ Tower.” Accessed June 16, 2020.

Laye, Tim. “Toronto – 48th Highlanders.” Ontario War Memorials. Accessed May 11, 2020.

Nora, Pierre. “General Introduction: Between Memory and History” in Realms of Memory vol. I trans. Arthur Goldhammer, New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.

Pierce, John. “Constructing Memory: The Vimy Memorial.” Canadian Military History 1, no. 1 (1992): 3-5.

“Queen’s Own Rifles Association.” Accessed June 8, 2020.

“Regiment Info.” Canadian Armed Forces. Accessed June 8, 2020. 

“St. Andrew’s Church (Toronto). Sensagent Corporation. Accessed June 8, 2020.

“Soldiers’ Tower Carillon Inscriptions.” University of Toronto. Accessed May 11, 2020.

“Sons of England Memorial.” Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation. Accessed June 8, 2020.

“South African War Memorial (Toronto).” Wikipedia. Accessed June 17, 2020.

Strachan, Hew. 2013. The First World War. New York: Penguin Books.

“The 48th Highlanders Monument Queens Park.” Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation. Accessed June 8, 2020.

“Weekly Services, St. Andrew’s Church.” Accessed June 8, 2020.

Winter, Jay. “The Generation of Memory: Reflections on the ‘Memory Boom’ in Contemporary Historical Studies.” Canadian Military History 10, no. 3, (2001): 57-66.

“48th Highlanders of Canada An Infantry Regiment of Canada’s Primary Reserves.” Canadian Armed Forces. Accessed June 16, 2020.


[1] Jay Winter, “The Generation of Memory: Reflections on the ‘Memory Boom’ in Contemporary Historical Studies.” Canadian Military History 10, no. 3, (2001): 58.

[2] Bell VIII commemorates Lt. James E. Robertson, BA, Ll.B.  Virtutis Gloria Merces is the motto of Clan Robertson (Donnachaidh).

[3] Winter, “Generation of Memory,” 58-59.

[4] The Queen’s Own Rifles was formerly a multi-battalion regular-force regiment, with troops based as far away as Work Point Barracks, Victoria B.C. (now part of CFB Esquimalt).  The regimental depot was in Calgary.

[5] Queen’s Own Rifles Association,

[6] Peter Farrugia, “A Small Truce in a Big War: The Historial de La Grande Guerre and the Interplay of History and Memory.” Canadian Military History 22, no. 2, (Spring 2013): 4.

[7] “Cross of Sacrifice,” Wikipedia, accessed June 7, 2020,

[8] “Cross of Sacrifice,”, accessed June 17, 2020,

[9] As with other Rifle Regiments, a regimental colour is not carried, with the battle honours being painted on regimental drums instead. It was announced on May 9, 2014 that the QOR has subsequently been awarded the “Afghanistan” battle honour because of the numbers of its members that had served in South-West Asia. Battle Honours of the Canadian Army – The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, accessed June 8, 2020,

[10] QORA

[11] Ibid.

[12] “Book of Remembrance,” The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum and Archives, accessed June 8, 2020, 2019/08/book-of-remembrance.jpg

[13] A traditional toast to Fallen Comrades is given at formal military dinners.

[14] William T. Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles 1860-1960 (Don Mills: Ontario Publishing Company Limited, 1960), 133.

[15] John Pierce, “Constructing Memory: The Vimy Memorial.” Canadian Military History 1, no. 1, (1992): 3-4.
Paul Gough, “Canada, Conflict and Commemoration: An Appraisal of the New Canadian War Memorial in Green Park, London, and a Reflection on the Official Patronage of Canadian War Art.” Canadian Military History 5, no. 1, (Spring 1996): 30.

[16] His architectural firm, Mathers and Haldenby (1921-1991), also designed the Toronto head office buildings of Imperial Oil, Bank of Nova Scotia, and The Globe and Mail.
“Haldenby, Eric Wilson,” University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, accessed June 16, 2020,

[17] Kim Beattie, 48th Highlanders of Canada 1891­-1928, (Toronto: 48th Highlanders of Canada, 1932), 425.
Gough, “Canada, Conflict and Commemoration,” 7-8.

[18] Beattie, 48th Highlanders, 425.

[19] “Sons of England Memorial,” Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation, accessed June 8, 2020,

[20] “Historic Toronto,”, accessed June 8, 2020,

[21] Beattie, 426,
“The 48th Highlanders Monument Queens Park,” Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation, accessed June 8, 2020,

[22] After WW II 10 battle honours were added in honour of 351 dead from that conflict.  Like the Queen’s Own Rifles, the 48th Highlanders have subsequently been awarded a battle honour for Afghanistan.
“Battle Honours of the Canadian Army – The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada,” accessed June 8, 2020,
“The 48th Highlanders Monument Queens Park,” Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation, accessed June 8, 2020,

[23] “St. Andrew’s Church (Toronto),” Sensagent Corporation, accessed June 8, 2002,
“Weekly Services, St. Andrew’s Church,”, accessed June 8, 2020,
“48th Highlanders of Canada An Infantry Regiment of Canada’s Primary Reserves,” Canadian Armed Forces, accessed June 16, 2020,
“Weekly Services, St. Andrew’s Church,”

[24] An architect, his other works included several buildings on the University of Toronto campus, the College Wing of Toronto General Hospital, and the “new” Centre Block on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill.
Janice Bradbeer, “Once Upon A City: Creating Toronto’s Skyline,” Toronto Star, March 24, 1016.
“John A. Pearson,”, accessed June 8, 2020,

[25] Hew Strachan, The First World War. (New York: Penguin Books, 2013) 337.

[26] Farrugia, “A Small Truce,” 63
Gough, 33,
Pierre Nora. “General Introduction: Between Memory and History” in Realms of Memory vol. I trans. Arthur Goldhammer, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992): 1, cited by Farrugia, 2.

Permission is hereby granted to the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada to, with proper acknowledgement, use the following, in whole or in part, for any purpose whatsoever.

QOR Day at Casa Loma 2019

I know that many of those who follow our website are not local to Toronto, but for those that are we hope you’ll join us for our annual Queen’s Own Rifles Day at Casa Loma on this coming Saturday November 9th. Our program is included in your Casa Loma admission fee.

This is a great family day event which showcases the long and dedicated military heritage of the QOR as well as the regiment of today!

Program includes:

  • Soldiers from the Regiment with various displays displays of modern day equipment such as tac-vests, rucksacks, winter kit, mountain ops kit, communications and parachuting equipment, reconnaissance skills, etc.
  • Members of the Regiment with service in  Bosnia
  • Re-enactors representing various periods including the First World War, the Second World War, Korea and Cyprus
  • Vintage Signallers Exhibits
  • Remembrance Day crafts for children
  • Temporary QOR Badge tattoos
    The Brass Quintet from the Regimental Band giving performances in the Great Hall

Solders with ID or in uniform, veterans in an association blazer or with Veteran’s ID, and Cadets in uniform get free admission to Casa Loma on both Saturday November 9th and Sunday November 10th!

We hope you’ll be able to join us!



New Swift Grave Marker Unveiled

Earlier this year……

On the evening of 9 June 2018, the Regiment marched from Moss Park Armoury to St James Cemetery where they joined our museum team and other members of the regimental family to dedicate a new grave marker for Bugle Major Charles Swift.

Swift first served with The Queen’s Own Rifles in 1866 at the age of 14 as a boy musician at the Battle of Ridgeway. In 1885 Swift and the QOR were again mobilized in response to the North West Rebellion.  As Bugle Major for 46 years, he helped raise the international profile of the Regiment, leading the band on tours to England in 1902 and 1910. He served with the Regiment for an incredible 57 years!

The short ceremony included a recitation of Swift’s service, a prayer of dedication, the Last Post, Rouse, and Sunset, and of course the unveiling.

The CO, a Swift cousin, and the Director of Music unveil the new marker.

After the unveiling, those in attendance broke into three groups and were led on tours of the graves of other members of the Regiment who were buried in St James – including three casualties from Ridgeway, the first Commanding Officer, and the CO who led the Regiment through most of Europe during WWII. Soldiers in each group placed small QOR flags at each QOR grave.

You can find the complete walking tour of forty-seven QOR soldiers buried or memorialized at St James, below:

The Regiment then marched back to Moss Park Armoury where some awards and promotions were presented, after which everyone enjoyed a BBQ dinner prepared by the QOR Association Toronto Branch.

You can find see our complete June 6, 2018 photo album on our Flickr site.

Thanks to all those who donated to this project:

  • Josef Amodeo
  • Beverlee Bamlett
  • Kevin Bishop
  • Cheryl Copson
  • Linda Di Felice
  • Grant Dunbar
  • Kathryn Emanuel
  • Philippe Escayola
  • John Fotheringham
  • Tim Hannan
  • Graham Humphrey
  • Jason Keddy
  • Shaun Kelly
  • Darnel Leader
  • Sheila MacMillan
  • Dave Marsh
  • Henry McCabe
  • Jason McGibbon
  • Harry J. Rollo
  • Mark Shannon
  • John Stephens
  • Swift Family
  • Usman Valiante
  • John Wilmot
  • Susan Wilson
  • Andrew Zamic
  • The QOR Sergeants’ Mess
  • 2 x Anonymous donors

Ben Dunkelman Heritage Toronto Plaque Unveiled

On the afternoon of Thursday June 8, 2017, a plaque was unveiled next to the site of the Tip Top Tailor building by Heritage Toronto, the Dunkelman family and the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, honouring the legacy of distinguished military officer and entrepreneur Ben Dunkelman.

Below are remarks given by Lieutenant Colonel Sandi Banerjee, CD, Commanding Officer of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada:

Major General Holmes,  Member of City Counsel and Heritage Toronto, The Dunkelman Family: Rose, Lorna, Deenah, Daphna, David, Jonathan, Members of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, Ladies and gentlemen. 

It’s an honour for me to bring greetings from Ben’s Regiment on this historic occasion.

On the day I took command of The QOR, I received a very appropriate gift from a friend and mentor. Like Ben, this gentleman was also a warrior and Brigade Commander – he sent me a copy of Dual Allegiance, which reminded me all too well of the challenges and the conflicting demands one faces as a ‘citizen soldier’.

In his book, Ben mentions a special parade in Toronto, one to honour returning soldiers from the First World War. Thought he never glamorizes warfare, he states, “…from the moment of that Toronto Parade I have been sure of one thing: I am a Canadian, proud of Canada’s heritage and proud – if need be – to fight for it.”

Today I stand before you equally proudly of the fact that our Regiment welcomed Ben and all Canadians equally those many years ago. Without thought to religion or family background, The QOR of C has been a home to tens of thousands of proud Canadians with the same thoughts as Brigadier Dunkelman: not to seek conflict, rather to serve those who cannot protect themselves.

Toronto and Torontonians have a rich history and association with Canada’s Armed Forces. We stand in front of HMCS York, steps from Fort York Armoury and historic Old Fort York. We are standing very near the grounds where The QOR of C gathered before stepping off for Ridgeway to protect southern Ontario from invading forces 151 year ago. Though our early days, sending expeditionary forces to the Nile and Boer Wars, the World Wars, the Korean conflict, peace enforcement missions and the war in Afghanistan, or todays’ deployments in the Middle east, Africa and eastern Europe: Toronto has always supported our men and women in harm’s way.

The Regiment recently returned from two very special events overseas: the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and just prior to that, our commemorations in Normandie, where Ben and his fellow Band of Brothers served. There we received not one but two honours: The Freedom of the City of Bernier sur Mer, where we were the only Toronto Regiment to land on D-Day, and the FotC of Anisy, where again, this Toronto Regiment was the only Allied unit to achieve their D-Day objective. These came at enormous costs, but as Ben showed by his personal example, the costs of freedom, of human dignity and decency, are borne by ordinary citizens accepting extraordinary responsibilities in times of great need.

I can also tell you that the people of Normandy, of France, have never forgotten the sacrifices of this Toronto Regiment and of the million Canadians who liberated them through two World Wars.

It is entirely appropriate then, that we gather here today to similar remember: to honour a proud Torontonian and Canadian who served twice to protect those in harm’s way. I would like to thank the City of Toronto and Heritage Toronto for bestowing this honour on a member of our Regiment and our city. May it serve as a reminder to all who come across it of a great man and our joint history together, a reminder of our City and her soldiers who have carried a part of Canada with them across the globe.

Thanks also to Captain Rob Chan and his family for their efforts in working with Heritage Toronto to make this happen.

You can read more about Ben Dunkelman here.

Dunkelman, Ben Heritage Toronto Plaque

More from St James Cemetery




Otter, William_D - Gravestone
Gravestone of Major General William Dillon Otter, St James Cemetery, Toronto

In response to our last post about our exploration of St James Cemetery, Bill Paton kindly forwarded a photo of General William Dillon Otter’s grave marker:






Lieutenant Colonel William Smith Durie Headstone

He also reminded us that the QOR’s first commanding officer, Colonel William Smith Durie was buried here as well. And while Rob, Shaun and I knew this was located here and had indeed seen it on our wanderings that day, I’d completely forgotten to mention it!



12282038_113168308294Bill also kindly included a link to the fascinating story of Colonel Durie’s son Captain William Arthur Peel Durie and who was killed in action during the First World War and the efforts of his mother to have has body returned to by buried in St James Cemetery. Link to his mother’s story here.

UNCEM_1465151416288And lastly I completely forgot to include Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Lett, DSO who assumed command of The Queen’s Own Rifles in August 1944 and served until the conclusion of the Second World War. The museum was very pleased to acquire his medals in early 2015.


Remembering Riflemen in St James Cemetery, Toronto

The photo above was printed in the Toronto Globe in May 1924: “Graves of departed veterans of the Queen’s Own Rifles, located in several of Toronto’s burial places, were decorated yesterday by the Q.O.R. Chapter, Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire. Rev. Canon Cody conducted the service of the Church of England suitable to the occasion.”

This year when the Regimental Church parade was finished, two former RSM’s CWO (Ret) Shaun Kelly and Captain (Ret) Rob Chan joined the museum curator at St James Cemetery. We had recently been researching information about Bugle Major Charles Swift who served as the Bugle Major of The Queen’s Own Rifles for most of his 57 years of service – service which included the Battle of Ridgeway and the North West Rebellion. We’d come across a page inserted in a Bugle Band minute book which outlined arrangements for his funeral that indicated he’d been buried at St James Cemetery.

Graves marker of Bugle Major, Captain Charles Swift
Grave marker of Bugle Major, Captain Charles Swift

So our object on that sunny Sunday afternoon was to find his grave. Unfortunately the cemetery office was closed so we thought we’d just take a look around and see if we could spot it ourselves.  Three hours later we actually found it – just as we were about to give up!

Sadly as you can see from the photo at right, the marker has not weathered well and little can be read aside from the large “SWIFT” on its base. Subsequently the cemetery office did confirm that this was indeed his gravesite.  Perhaps its time for the regiment to consider placing an additional marker as we’ve done for those from the Battle of Ridgeway….

What surprised us most that afternoon, was the number of other Riflemen we came across as we crisscrossed the cemetery.

Grave marker of Sergeant Major Robert Taylor
Grave marker of Sergeant Major Robert Taylor

Among one of the oldest was that of Sergeant Robert Taylor. Research by Shaun has found he was listed in the nominal rolls as the regiment’s Sergeant Major from at least 1864 to 1867 although the appointment may just have been temporary. (A note that we did NOT place the QOR stickers which are found on many of these grave markers but believe they were put there but a member of the bugle band who has since passed away.)

Sergeant Major Samuul Corrigan McKell
Sergeant Major Samuel Corrigan McKell

Another Nineteenth century Sergeant Major was Samuel Corrigan McKell who rose to that appointment in 1889 after serving in the Northwest Rebellion.

Unfortunately McKell would not be in the position long, by December of 1890 he had died from blood poisoning. The funeral service was a large one as McKell was not only popular within the regiment but also outside of it so there were scores of soldiers from the Grenadiers and the Body Guard as well as around 460 Riflemen from the Queen’s Own in attendance.

The large memorial was erected by his comrades.

Other Riflemen buried there include the following:

Captain Richard Scougall Cassels served with The Queen’s Own Rifles in the Northwest Rebellion (during which he kept a diary) but later became a founding officer with the 48th Highlanders. He was also a partner of the law firm Cassels Brock which still exists today.

Grave marker of Captain Richard Scougall Cassels
Grave marker of Captain Richard Scougall Cassels

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph M. Delamere commanding The Queen’s Own Rifles from 1896 to 1900. His service included the Battle of Ridgeway, the St Patrick’s Day riots, the Belleville Riots, and the Northwest Rebellion. His son also rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and his grandson Colonel John Morison Delamere, MBE, ED, CD also commanded the QOR.

Grave marker for Lieutenant Colonel Joseph M. Delamere
Grave marker for Lieutenant Colonel Joseph M. Delamere

The thirteenth Commanding Officer was Colonel Arthur James Ernest Kirkpatrick VD, who joined the regiment in 1893 and would command C and D companies of the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force at the 2nd Battle of Ypres and after a valiant stand, was taken prisoner.

Grave marker Colonel A.E. Kirkpatrick

Colour Sergeant William F. Busteed  was a veteran of the Fenian Raids of 1866.

Colour Sergeant William F. Busteed
Colour Sergeant William F. Busteed

Frank S. Joyce was a QOR Bugler.

QOR Bugler Frank S. Joyce
QOR Bugler Frank S. Joyce

Major General Dr. George Ansel Sterling Ryerson began is military career as a QOR rifleman in 1870. His son, George Crowther Ryerson, also served with the Queen’s Own Rifles and joined the 3rd (Toronto Regiment) Battalion, CEF during the First World War. He was killed in action on April 23, 1915.


Major Villiers Sankey was also the City of Toronto chief surveyor and Villiers St in the Port Lands is named for him. His youngest son, Lieutenant Colonel Richard H. Sankey would command the 3rd Battalion (CASF) , Queen’s Own Rifles during the Second World War (May 21, 1942 to Aug 15th 1943.)


Better know are four casualties of the Battle of Ridgeway (recognized more recently by the Regiment with new grave markers): Rifleman Charles F. Alderson, Corporal Mark B. Defries, Rifleman Francis Lakey, and William D. Smith:

alderson-charles defries-mark lakey-francis smith-william-d

Less well know though was 18 year old Rifleman Thomas Wilson, who died in Detroit when the ferry steamer Windsor burned at the docks with 31 lives lost on 26 April 1866. The orginal marker was placed by his fellow Riflemen and a newer marker by the regiment in 2010.


Lastly we found the marker for General William Dillon Otter, adjutant at the Battle of Ridgeway, commander of a column in the Northwest Rebellion, commander of Canadian Troops in South Africa and Canada’s first Canadian born full General. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have a photo of his grave marker so it will definitely mean a trip back to St James in the future.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


See More from St James Cemetery for some additional QOR members we missed.

Dedication of new markers in the town of Courcelette

Once again, the Regiment has worked with its fellow regiments, The Governor General’s Horse Guards (GGHG) and The Royal Regiment of Canada to honour the 3rd Battalion (Toronto Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force, which each unit perpetuates.

On May 30th, the GGHG dedicated new markers in the town of Courcelette to commemorate the battle honours of Somme 1916, Pozieres, Flers-Courcelette and Ancre Heights, all costly battles for the 3rd Battalion and the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, which the GGHG also perpetuate.

Costs for the memorials are shared between the three regiments.  Previous markers commemorate St. Julien and Passchendaele, and a marker for Mount Sorrel was dedicated in June.


Thomas Lockie: The First to wear the London Scottish uniform in Battle; 1866

The following article was written by Anthony Partington in June 2015 for the London Scottish regimental news and we are pleased to repost it here with his permission as we anticipate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Ridgeway. {Photo above No. 10 Highland Company after Battle of Ridgeway]

The Battle of Ridgeway, June 2 1866, was probably the first battle fought entirely by members of the Volunteer Movement in either Britain or Canada. It was also the last battle fought in Canada against a foreign invader. For the London Scottish Regiment, and long forgotten, the battle was the first time that our uniform was worn in action.

Lady Elcho, speaking in the Fall 1866 prize-giving, said: “It is with no small pride that we, this year, heard of one who had served in the ranks of the London Scottish having greatly distinguished himself by his enthusiasm and steadiness in the field against the Fenians in Canada. This refers to Colour-Sergeant Lockie, of No. 8 Company, who went into action in the uniform of the London Scottish, which thus came under fire for the first time.”

Thomas E. Lockie, – a Volunteer from the London Scottish

In June 1866, the Governor General presented to both houses of the Legislature the Adjutant-General of Militia in Canada’s report on the state of the Volunteer system in the Province of Canada (note Confederation was yet to come in 1867). It makes special note of the presence of young Thomas Lockie who fought in the Battle of Ridgeway (also known as Lime Ridge) with the true martial spirit of the British and Canadian Volunteer Movement.

“It would be impossible to detail the many individual instances of devotion to Canada which have been afforded by her sons; but the behavior of a stranger not long arrived in the country from England should not be left without notice. Mr. Lockie, a young gentleman of the London Scottish (Lord Elcho’s Regiment), who had distinguished himself at Wimbledon, came to Canada 18 months ago. When the Fenians landed at Fort Erie he had only been a few weeks returned from England with a young bride. He immediately fell into the ranks of the Queen’s Own as a private, and fought at the Battle of Lime Ridge, where the grey colour of his uniform, that of the London Scottish, exposed him particularly to the fire of the enemy. His coolness and bravery were conspicuous, and during the retreat he was always seen in the rear, encouraging his comrades and leading and firing with as much deliberation as if on a field day.”

Col. Garnet Wolseley, Deputy Adjutant-General of Militia in Canada, had arrived on the battlefield on June 3 and took command of the British forces in the area. In all probability, it was he who placed the glowing praise of Mr. Lockie in the Addenda to the Militia Report. Wolseley had served in the 84th Regiment in the Indian Mutiny with Lord Elcho’s brother-in-law Major Augustus H.A. Anson V.C., M.P. They were both best friends with Lord Elcho. Their reports back to Lord Elcho of the unsuitability of scarlet, blue and green uniforms in a modern battle probably sensitized Wolseley to the presence of the Hodden Grey on the battlefield.

There is a photo of No 10 Company taken at Stratford where the British and Canadian forces regrouped after the battle under the command of Col. Wolseley. The muster roll shows three official Volunteers in the company, including Lockie, discharged from strength by June 6. He could be the man in the photo as it would be of those who had fought. Of note is how the civilian dress in grey of the one Volunteer stands out against the rifle green tunics and Black Watch tartan trews of the Highland Company supporting the comment in the Adjutant-General’s report. The Hodden Grey uniform of the London Scottish would have been similar.

Thomas Eman Lockie was born 6 January 1838 in Kelso, Roxburghshire to Andrew Lockie, a wealthy farmer with 800 acres of arable land and 100 acres of grass employing 13 men, 8 women and 3 boys. Thomas spent his formative years in a boarding school and, by 1861, he was a merchantile clerk living in Lambeth. Lockie was noted as being a Colour-Sergeant of No. 8 Company, under Captain Macgregor in March 1862. He arrived in Canada in late 1864 or early 1865 but returned to England to marry Janet Eman in Lambeth in the first quarter of 1866 (curiously a woman with the same surname as his mother and most likely his cousin). Within a matter of weeks, Lockie and his bride made the long voyage back to Canada and a new life in Toronto. Despite his young age, he had both strong qualifications and good connections as, in short order, he became the secretary for the newly founded Toronto Steel, Iron and Railway Works. The young couple’s domestic tranquility, however, was short-lived and within a few days of arriving back, Lockie was volunteering to fight the Fenians.

Serving as a Private in the Queen’s Own Rifles, Lockie fought at the Battle of Ridgeway on June 2 1866 near Fort Erie in the Niagara peninsula. He survived the battle but just over a year later, he died of liver failure, a disease contracted during his military service. His fate and his connection to the London Scottish were again duly reported in local and national newspapers and by the QOR.

The Globe of Oct 21, 1867 stated:

“ DEATH OF A VOLUNTEER- Mr T. E. Lockie, a member of the Highland Company of the Queen’s Own Rifles, died in this city on Saturday, and will be buried today with military honours. The deceased prior to his arrival in this country, was a member of the London Scottish Regiment of Volunteers, and, during his connection with the Queen’s Own, experienced all the hardships of their Fort Erie campaign, and there contracted a disease which accelerated his death. At the Battle of Ridgeway, he appeared in the grey kilt and hose of his former regiment, and at the retreat his conduct was marked by bravery. After the fight, the behavior of the peculiarly-dressed individual, as he was styled, elicited the admiration of even the Fenians, he, while the retreat was going on, having remained so far behind as to be under the fire of both sides, while his cool and collected behavior during the engagement was a source of encouragement to his comrades-in-arms. He was secretary of the Toronto Steel and Iron Works since the opening of that establishment, and conducted himself there to the satisfaction of his employer.”

The Globe of Oct 22, 1867 stated:

“VOLUNTEER FUNERAL- The funeral of the late Corporal Lockie, of the Highland Company, Queen’s Own Rifles, took place from the residence of the deceased to the Necropolis yesterday afternoon. The deceased was buried with full military honours. A firing party from the company to which the deceased belonged, headed the funeral cortege and immediately in rear was the regimental band of the battalion, the hearse, a number of the volunteer force, and friends of the deceased in carriages, bringing up the rear. On their arrival at the ground, a volley was fired over the grave by his comrades, and the earth closed over a volunteer whose record in our force was honourable, and whose memory deserves to be warmly cherished.”

“Aperture Sight”, the columnist in the Volunteer Review and Military and Naval Gazette of October 28 credits both reports above originally to Lt. Col. Gillmor, O.C. the QOR. As an aside to the battle report, many southern Fenians wore their ex-Confederate States’ grey uniforms with green facings in the battle, which was why friendly forces would shoot at Lockie.

Curiously, Lockie lies in an unmarked grave belonging to John Lang Blaikie, along with two of Blaikie’s infant children, in the Toronto Necropolis. Both Blaikie and Janet Eman Lockie were Executors of Lockie’s will and estate in Canada. These facts suggest both Executors did not do justice to this man, considering that he left an estate worth $4,078, and probably some collusion. Blaikie was a wealthy and prominent Toronto stockbroker and businessman; a man who, like Lockie, had immigrated to Canada from the small Scottish shire of Roxburgh. While the connection between Blaikie and Lockie is not clear, one may assume that Blaikie had known Lockie’s family in Scotland and had most likely mentored the young Lockie on his arrival in Toronto into the Toronto Steel, Iron and Railway Works and managed his investments.

Eight months later, the Department of Militia and Defence in Ottawa also recognized Lockie’s contributions. There is a post in the Canada Gazette on June 1, 1868 noting that Thomas E. Lockie, “Queen’s Own Rifles, died of disease contracted at the Battle of Ridgeway” and that his widow had been awarded a gratuity of $200.

What had started out with such promise ended in the bitter loss of a brave and promising young man so soon after his moment of glory.

The 1866 Fenian Raid

For a young man with military experience, Thomas E Lockie’s arrival in Canada was opportune. With the conclusion of the American Civil War, the Fenian Society decided to organize disbanded Irish soldiers from both the Union and Confederate Armies into Volunteer units for the invasion of Canada. The intent was to secure a piece of Canada by force that could be traded for the freedom of Ireland. Some 1500 Fenian troops crossed the Niagara River north of Fort Erie with many more waiting to cross. The campaign was the first to be fought under the flag and title “Irish Republican Army”.

The British forces mobilized to fight this Fenian incursion were split into two. Included in the northern force were elements of the 16th and 47th Foot of British Infantry, a battery of Royal Artillery, along with local companies of Volunteer Militia from the Niagara area. Their objective was to protect the railway routes north to Niagara Falls and the only bridge to the USA and west towards the Welland Canal. The southern force, consisting of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Toronto (QOR), the 13th Battalion Canadian Volunteer Militia (later The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry), the Caledonia and York companies of Militia, the Dunnville Naval Brigade, the Welland Canal Field Artillery Battery (with no field guns), were to protect the railway line leading west to Port Colborne and the southern entrance to the Welland Canal.

Despite a massive call-out in March 1866, preparations were inadequate for an attack.
Ammunition ration for target practice was limited and few Militiamen had ever fired their rifles. The Militia units had no knapsacks or water bottles to campaign with. This wasn’t as obvious a problem until the QOR went into battle unfed, with no water and only 20 rounds of ammunition –sufficient for about seven minutes of heavy fire! No fear – they proposed to bayonet the Fenians, a tactic almost unheard of in the American Civil War. Many soldiers drank ditch water because of the lack of water bottles and possibly this was the reason for Lockie’s disease. The March call-out had been a ‘cry wolf’- nothing had happened and nothing was done to correct deficiencies. Many small businessmen and students suffered commercially and time-wise such that many did not report for the June call-out. The shortfalls allowed Thomas Lockie an opportunity to serve as a trained soldier.

The Fenian intelligence was excellent. They knew that the northern force was mainly British regular soldiers while the southern force was untried Canadian Militia. They chose to attack the 841 Militia at Ridgeway first, then the British regulars. The ill-equipped and relatively untrained Militia troops attacked aggressively. A ‘cavalry’ alarm caused the Canadians to form square (a Napoleonic War tactic still in the British Drill Book) in front of trained American infantry, resulting in many fatalities and injuries. Nine men died that day from the QOR with others in the weeks following. Perversely, the error in command probably saved lives since the QOR and the 13th Battalion were just about to engage the Fenian main force with insufficient ammunition. The experienced and well-supplied Fenians would have cut them to pieces. The battle at Ridgeway was a tactical defeat for the Canadians, yet a strategic victory, since the Fenians withdrew back to the USA the next day after the US Government cut off reinforcements and supplies to the Fenians.

The Canadian Volunteer Militia

The Volunteer Movement in England produced many fine battalions including The London Scottish Volunteer Rifles and also influenced the creation of many Volunteer regiments in Canada that in time became the majority of the Canadian Army. Many were called out in March and June 1866 and at other times up to 1870 in response to the three-pronged planned Fenian attack. The western attack from Detroit never happened. The eastern attack into Quebec was effectively a police action while the central attack through Fort Erie was an actual battle involving the Queen’s Own Rifles.

The 2nd Battalion, Volunteer Militia Rifles of Canada was formed April 26, 1860 in Upper Canada from four independent rifle companies in Toronto and a company each from Barrie and Whitby. The ‘Queen’s Own Rifles of Toronto’ title was given in March 1863 when they became part of the Service Militia of Canada with a role as a fighting force in contrast to the remainder of the Volunteer companies that acted generally as military police / Frontier Constabulary. The impetus in Upper and Lower Canada was the American Civil War with numerous small raids by Union or Confederate forces across the border and the desire by Britain to withdraw the remaining regular regiments. By 1866, the QOR consisted of 10 companies solely from Toronto including No. 10 (Highland) Company. The Highland Societies of Toronto formed the Highland Company in 1860, similar to the foundation of the London Scottish, but disbanded it in 1868. Later the Highland Societies raised the 48th Highlanders of Toronto in 1891.

The 48th Highlanders contained a number of expatriate London Scots who corresponded with the London Scottish Gazette for many years and who were known to Lt. (later Captain) Colin C. Harbottle. Lt. Col. CC Harbottle later commanded the 75th Battalion in WW1 and The Toronto Scottish Regiment after the war. The London Scottish Regiment has deep and abiding connections with Canada and now one more can be added to the roster – the story of Thomas E. Lockie, the first to wear the regimental uniform in battle.

Strike Sure and Carry On
Anthony Partington

“It is Written” painting on loan to our museum

This summer we were pleased to accept a loan of the spectacular painting It is Written by Brian Lorimer. The loan was facilitated by Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Brendan Caldwell on behalf of the Caldwell Foundation which owns the 5′ x 6′ painting which now hangs in our Riflemen Room. LCol Caldwell also donated a copy of the beautiful Project Remembrance book to the museum library.

Providing a glimpse into one of the more mundane yet psychologically important aspects of a soldier’s life, It is Written represents a soldier engaged in the quiet pastime of writing a letter home.

The canvas is inscribed with one-time Rifleman John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields”. This canonical war poem was penned from the back of an ambulance after McCrae’s friend Alexis Helmer died as the result of wounds sustained in the Second Battle of Ypres and is perhaps the most well-known English-language poem of the Great War.

Project Remembrance is a fine art collection by Canadian painter Brian Lorimer that inspires remembrance and commemorates the centenary of the onset of The First World War. The paintings are a fresh and compelling rendering of the Canadian experience of the Great War, describing moments of individual fortitude and trial. More than that, they are a call to Canadians to consider and draw inspiration from the strength of character exhibited by our soldiers.

Their mission is to preserve, promote and celebrate Canadian history and heritage through the powerful medium of art. Their goal is to raise funds to assist in the betterment of Military personnel and their families. Funds raised with the support of Project Remembrance, individual and corporate donations are provided directly to the Support Our Troops Program.

If you would like to support Project Remembrance, you can purchase copies of the work as framed or unframed on paper, reproduced on canvas, as art cards or the book, via their online store.

We are extremely grateful to the Caldwell Foundation for this loan and encourage you to view it on your next visit to the museum!

Decoration Day held once again at Volunteer Memorial

Last week, for the first time in decades, citizens gathered to lay flowers on the National Volunteer Memorial which was created to remember those militiamen who served and died in the service of their country at and following the the Battle of Ridgeway (or Limeridge) on June 2, 1860.

Nine of those were members of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada – 7 killed in action and 2 more died shortly thereafter of wounds. Several others were wounded – two requiring amputations.


Rifleman William D. Smith No. 2 Company
Lance-Corporal Mark B. Defries No. 3 Company
Ensign Malcolm McEachern No. 5 Company
Rifleman Christopher Alderson No. 7 Company
Rifleman William Fairbanks Tempest No. 9 Company
Rifleman Malcolm McKenzie No. 9 Company
Rifleman John Harriman Mewburn No. 9 Company


No. 1 Company Ensign William Fahey knee
No. 1 Company Rifleman Oulster leg (calf)
No. 2 Company Sergeant Hugh Matheson thigh
(died June 11)
No. 2 Company Corporal Francis Lakey mouth
(died June 11)
No. 2 Company Rifleman William Thompson neck
No. 3 Company Captain J. B. Boustead contused
No. 3 Company Lieutenant J. H. Beaven thigh
No. 3 Company Rifleman Chas. Winter thigh
No. 4 Company Chas. Lugsdin lung and arm
No. 5 Company Chas. Bell knee
No. 5 Company Rifleman Capp wrist
No. 6 Company Lieutenant W. C. Campbell shoulder
No. 6 Company Corporal Paul Robins knee (since
No. 6 Company Rifleman Rutherford foot
No. 7 Company Sergeant W. Foster side
No. 9 Company Rifleman E. T. Paul knee
No. 9 Company Rifleman R. E. Kingsford leg
No. 9 Company Rifleman E. G. Paterson arm
No. 9 Company Rifleman W. H. Vandersmissen groin
No. 10 Company Colour-Sergeant F. McHardy arm
No. 10 Company Rifleman White arm (since

You can read more about the battle here.

Thanks to journalist, author and educator, Peter Vronsky for organizing the ceremony. Participants included QOR Skirmishers, bugler and padre; and period soldiers from the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry who fought at Ridgeway as the 13th Battalion.

Photos below are courtesy of retired Captain Larry Hicks, CD.

WWI Public Commemorative Ceremony

Thursday July 31

On behalf of Blake Goldring, Founder and Chair of Canada Company, you are invited to a special evening to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.

Join the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History, the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Canadian Armed Forces on the evening of July 31 at Varsity Stadium for this commemorative event.

Host: former war-correspondent, Gemini-winner Brian Stewart, Remarks by noted historian Margaret MacMillan and the CDS, Gen Thomas J. Lawson, CMM, CD. Vocal performances by Ruth Ann Onley, Danielle Bourre, and Jean Miso with the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus.

Event is free but tickets required; for reservations and further info click here.

Rolph Jackson artifacts return to Normandy for Colonel-in-Chief visit

As Colonel in Chief of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, The Duchess of Cornwall met veterans and serving members of the regiment on Thursday June 5 and toured the Juno Beach Centre.

At Juno Beach Centre, 5 June 2014 from L to R: the Prime Minister's wife Lauren Harper, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, and Lieutenant Colonel John Fotheringham, CD
At Juno Beach Centre, 5 June 2014 from L to R: the Prime Minister’s wife Lauren Harper, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, and Lieutenant Colonel John Fotheringham, CD

Former QOR Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel John Fotheringham is a Director of the Juno Beach Centre and recently passed on a request from them. They asked if it might be possible for us to make available some artifacts that related to D-Day and the Queen’s Own that the Duchess could see during her visit.

We checked around our collection and decided that items which had belonged to Lance Corporal Rolph Jackson might fit the bill. They had to be fairly small and easy for John to pack in his luggage when he headed to Normandy so we settled on six items.

  1. Identity tags
  2. A French “invasion” 5 franc note
  3. A new testament
  4. A bundle of pay books
  5. A separate pay book
  6. A letter written to his girlfriend (and eventual wife) just before D-Day
Lance Corporal Rolph Jackson's New Testament
Lance Corporal Rolph Jackson’s New Testament
Last letter from Rolph Jackson to Olive Lipski before D-Day
Last letter from Rolph Jackson to Olive Lipski before D-Day
Rolph Jackson identity tags
Rolph Jackson identity tags
French 5 franc "invasion" notes from Rolph Jackson Collection
French 5 franc “invasion” notes from Rolph Jackson Collection
French 5 franc "invasion" notes from Rolph Jackson Collection
French 5 franc “invasion” notes from Rolph Jackson Collection
Inside of one of Rolph Jackson's pay books with a photo of Olive Lipski, who he would later marry.
Inside of one of Rolph Jackson’s pay books with a photo of Olive Lipski, who he would later marry.

9 Reasons the QOR Remember Decoration Day

You might be excused if you’ve never heard of Decoration Day – but from 1890 to 1931 it was our first official day of remembering those who had died in the service of their country.

Peter Vronsky wrote:

“After nearly twenty-five years of silence, in 1890, suddenly murmurs and whispers of Ridgeway began to bubble to the surface in public discourse. A short paragraph in the Globe, ―Ridgeway Remembered‖ reported that the veterans of the battle had ―taken the matter in hand and would meet for the first time publicly on the twenty-fourth anniversary to lay flowers on the monument to the fallen on the U of T campus near Queens Park. The Globe described the ceremony under the headline, ―Our Decoration Day and reported that from now on it would be commemorated annually. It was the beginning of Canada‘s national Remembrance Day.”

As time passed it also came to also serve as a day to remember those who had died in the Northwest Rebellion and the South African War. Then came the First World War and the massive casualties which soon overshadowed these earlier and in comparison, less significant conflicts. An Act of Parliament in 1931 would change our national day of remembrance to November 11 and as the last of the Fenian Raid survivors died off, so did the June 2nd Decoration Day.

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve all seen those “lists” designed to tweak your interest and click through to their website – hotels with breathtaking views, amazing animal photos, abandoned Olympic facilities. Today we present our own list – the list of those of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada who were the first to die in the service of their country and the reason we still remember Decoration Day:

1. Ensign Malcolm McEachern – No. 5 Company
Thirty five years of age, this father of five young children was the first to fall on June 2nd.

2. Rifleman William D. Smith – No. 2 Company
Sadly we know very little about Rifleman Smith.

3. Lance-Corporal Mark B. Defries – No. 3 Company
He worked as a cellarman or malster in this brother Robert’s East-end Brewery.

4. Rifleman Christopher Alderson – No. 7 Company
He’d married his wife Janet Black exactly 3 months before the Battle of Ridgeway.

5. Rifleman William Fairbanks Tempest – No. 9 Company
His father, a Whitby medical doctor who had rushed to Ridgeway to assist the wounded, discovered the corpse of his son.

6. Rifleman Malcolm McKenzie – No. 9 Company
He enlisted in the University Company and was the first in his to fall, killed instantly with a shot to the heart.

7. Rifleman John Harriman Mewburn – No. 9 Company
His father had scraped together nearly $400 to put him through a year of school, but his grades were so good that he was expected to win the annual University College Scholarship.

8. Sergeant Hugh Matheson – No. 2 Company
Matheson was wounded in the leg on June 2nd but infection set in and despite amputation, we would die on June 11th.

9. Corporal Francis Lakey – No. 2 Company
Lackey also suffered horrible wounds to his face and head on June 2nd and would like Matheson, die a few days later.

Each year members of the Queen’s Own and the QOR Association still travel to the Battle of Ridgeway Memorial and conduct a ceremony of remembrance and decoration.

The QOR at Ridgeway Memorial on Decoration Day 2012
The QOR at Ridgeway Memorial on Decoration Day 2012

D-Day Rifleman

Here is a visual of what a Rifleman would have looked like on D-Day.


Field Service Marching Order with respirator slung. Gas cape rolled on Belt. Veil camouflage around neck. Shell dressing under netting of helmet. Emergency rations in hip pocket.

A.V. Battle dress will be worn, patches, (Canada & QOR), sewn on, when other collected.

The A.V. Battle dress will be worn for a minimum of 48 hrs, as soon as possible. If any effects on body are noticed, they will be reported immediately.


  • Mess tins
  • Holdall (towel, soap, razor, etc.)
  • Knife, fork and spoon
  • 24 hour rations
  • Cardigan
  • Beret
  • Boot laces
  • 4 x 2
  • Cigarettes
  • Pair of socks
  • Brown mug


  • Leather jerkin
  • Boots (anklets if required)
  • Cap comforter
  • Towel
  • Boot brush, dubbin & polish
  • Canvas shoes
  • Shirt, Angola
  • Boot laces
  • Drawers, Celular
  • Writing kit
  • Vest, Summer
  • 3 pairs socks
  • Housewife
  • Cigarettes
  • Greatcoat packed on outside of pack, held on by kicking straps


  • Respirator of Assault marching personnel only attached to pack.
  • G-1018 blanket, folded as for kit layout rolled in ground sheet, strongly lied and properly labelled. (This makes a roll about 2 ½ feet long.)
  • All packs, Haversacks, Greatcoats (inside belt), ground sheet, to be marked with Rank, Name, Number and Coy mark.
  • Assault troops are all that land on “D” day.
  • 1 suit of denim to be collected at a later date.
  • Serge suit for all assault personnel, both riding & marching, less those with coys, will be turned in when notified to coy stores. They will be marked as laid down. They will be returned after “D” day.
  • Serge suit for those on follow up vehicles will be put in their Blanket rolls.

Here are some Pre Invasion photos from our Archives:

May 1944 - QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 – QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 - QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 – QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 - QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 – QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 - QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 – QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 - QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 – QOR Museum’s Photo
Pioneer Cpl 1944 - QOR Museum’s Photo
Pioneer Cpl 1944 – QOR Museum’s Photo

To see the War Diaries for Pre and Invasion visit the link below


MCpl Graham Humphrey

What is the story of YOUR remembrance coin?

Units of the Canadian Armed Forces often follow the tradition of presenting new members of the unit with a regimental coin.  These coins are normally serialized, based on the member’s date of service with the unit, with a registry of coins being held by regimental headquarters.

The coin is meant to be symbol of membership within the unit, with members expected to carry their coin at all times.  

During Lieutenant Colonel Fotheringham’s first term as Commanding Officer, then Company Sergeant Major Shaun Kelly created a unique initiative which incorporated the exclusive membership aspect of a regimental coin whilst also honouring the history of the Regiment.  Instead of a coin which is serialized to the member based on the date of service with the unit, members of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada are issued a coin with the particulars of a member of the Regiment who died during one of the wars which the Regiment fought in. They were first presented to members of the regiment on Remembrance Day 2002.

QOR Remembrance Coin reverse
Reverse of Remembrance Coin of Museum Curator Maj (Ret) John Stephens, CD.157601
Rfn E. Honeyford
D/W (Died of wounds)

The antique pewter like coin is 39mm in diameter. The Obverse has the Primary Badge surrounded by the name of the regiment and the regimental motto “In Pace Paratus”. The Reverse has inscribed the particulars of the member whom the coin is dedicated to:

  • Service Number;
  • Rank, Initials, Surname;
  • KIA or D/W; and
  • date of death.

A coin is presented to each member of the Regiment by the Commanding Officer or Regimental Sergeant Major on the first Church Parade which the member participates in after having been “badged” into the Regiment.

The Names Behind the Coins

 But carrying the coin is just the first step. Riflemen are strongly encouraged to research the soldier named on their coin and many do. This makes the act of remembrance much more meaningful.

On our Regimental Museum website we have a section called “Soldiers of the Queen’s Own” in which we are adding biographies of soldiers who have served in the regiment – during any period since 1860 – or in the First World War battalions that we perpetuate. To date we’ve only added a very tiny sampling.

But we want to continue to expand this depository particularly as we approach the centenary of the First World War. If you’ve researched the soldier named on your coin, we strongly encourage you to send us whatever information you have – it can be in point form – so that we can add it to our website.

Please email your information to and make sure you include all the details from your coin as a starting point.


Major (Ret) John Stephens, CD

Who do you Remember?

Shortly many of us will be standing in front of cenotaphs, wrapped up from the biting cold wind, wearing poppies, laying wreaths and silently remembering during the silence between Last Post and Reveille.

As a Regiment, the Queen’s Own Rifles have much to remember:

  • In its baptism of fire during the Battle of Ridgeway in June, 1866 the QOR saw its first casualties – 7 killed in action and 2 later dying of wounds – some of whom had left their final University of Toronto exams the day before. Nineteen more were wounded including Rifleman White whose arm was eventually amputated.
  • In 1885 the Regiment sent a contingent 274 soldiers to Canada’s Northwest to put down a perceived rebellion by local Métis and First Nations. While all the QOR returned alive, five suffered wounds.
  • In the South African War Canada contributed troops for overseas service for the first time through a Service Battalion to which the Queen’s Own contributed – three would not return. Two died of enteric fever (typhoid) and one was killed in action.
  • During the First World War, The Queen’s Own through recruitment sent 210 officers and 7,352 men overseas and of these 47 regimental officers and 1,207 other ranks were killed in action, died of wounds, or died from natural causes – almost 1 in 6. To this day, Major General Malcolm Mercer remains the highest ranking Canadian Officer to be killed in combat. And of course this doesn’t include those who did return but with missing limbs, lungs damaged from gas, blinded, or suffering shell-shock.
  • The Second World War also saw significant casualties: 28 officers killed; 365 other ranks killed while serving with the 1st Battalion, QOR; 3 died in England; 1 in Canada; 1 in Holland; 61 Queen’s Own men died whilst serving with other units. Fifty officers and 823 other ranks were officially reported as wounded – many more than once.
  • WWII was hardly over before the QOR found themselves in Korea where six gave the ultimate sacrifice.
  • Since then numerous soldiers have died in accidents and of natural causes while serving in the Regular Force and Reserve battalions.

Thousands of QOR soldiers have given their lives since 1866 and this November 11th we will once again honour and remember them.

However each Remembrance Day I also remember those closer to home. An ancestor who fought in the War of 1812, a grandfather and several great uncles who fought in the First World War – some came home and one didn’t. And perhaps most poignantly, my paternal grandfather who during the Second World War, left a wife and 4 young children to serve in the 5th Canadian Field Ambulance. He lies buried in a hilltop Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery with all his fellow Canadians who were killed in Sicily.  Mt Etna smokes in the distance and one realizes how far from home it was.

As we lead up to this November 11th when we will honour all those who have served and sacrificed, I invite you to tell us in the comment section below, who do you remember?