Category Archives: Volunteers

2016 Volunteer Recognition Reception

Last week we were pleased to hold our volunteer recognition ceremony at The Queen’s Own Rifles Sergeants’ Mess to thank many of the 86 volunteers who provide 1,731 hours during 2016.

Volunteers do a very wide range of task: painting, construction, cataloging, database entry, creating exhibits, cleaning, photography, social media, taking the museum on the road, planning, renovations, creating labels and background panels, research, transcription, digitization, re-enacting, events – I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of other activities.

Some volunteers put in a few hours each year and several a lot more but all our appreciated for the skills, expertise and commitment they bring to the museum.

Fourteen of our volunteers have put in more more than 25 hours and our top five were thanked with some gifts provided by Museum Board member Adam Hermant:

235 hours

  • Capt (Ret’d) Larry Hicks (the most hours again in 2016 and our indispensable photography technician.

Over 150 hours:

  • MCpl Graham Humphrey
  • CWO (Ret’d) Shaun Kelly

Over 100 hours:

  • Cheryl Copson

Over 75 hours:

  • Laura Colangelo
  • Alex Meyers

Over 50 hours:

  • Elizabeth Taugher
  • Nicole Lines (nee Simpson)

Over 25 hours:

  • WO Emily Kenney
  • Cpl Justin Dremanis
  • Cpl Dave Strachan
  • Coleman Weir
  • Rob Grieve
  • Jim Lutz

We also want to thank the Commanding Officer LCol Sandi Banerjee and RSM CWO Paul Martin for their outstanding support and for joining us at our reception.

Thanks also to the Sergeants’ Mess for hosting us and to our generous supporter for offsetting the costs of the reception!

If you are interested in volunteering at the Regimental Museum – whether you’re a serving or former member of the regiment or just someone who thinks this might be a cool way to spend their Thursday evenings, you can find out more information on our Volunteer page.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

MCpl Graham Humphrey Presented Quilt

At the conclusion of our QOR Day at Casa Loma 2016, Corporal (Ret’d) Romeo Daley, a Korea War Veteran, presented museum volunteer Master Corporal Graham with a quilt in recognition of his various contributions. Below is the presentation narrative.

“We have had the privilege of getting to know MCpl Graham Humphrey through our friends , Sgt Allan Kiss and his lovely wife Karen.

We have met Graham many times over the past few years, specifically at the Veteran’s Appreciation Luncheon in Oakville where he volunteers, and more recently at The Battle of Ridgeway Battle Site for the 150th Anniversary of that battle in which The Queens Own Rifles of Canada fought.

We are aware of some of what MCpl Humphrey does for the military, in particular for The Queens Own Rifles of Canada, and know that his list of achievements continues to grow.

In 2006 in Western Canada a couple of women saw Veterans who had returned from Afghanistan with limbs missing and wanted to do something to make Canadian Veterans know they are not forgotten. They were quilters and decided to make quilts to present to Veterans.  It started with three soldiers receiving Quilts.  The soldiers were so moved by this act of kindness that Quilts of Valour was formed.  Each quilt made is unique and made up of quilter’s blocks from across Canada  and are then put together for presenting.  To date more that 8,000 of Canada’s military have been presented with a Quilt.

As a proud member of The Queens Own Rifles of Canada, MCpl Humphrey has thrived and will continue to do so. His hard work and volunteer service to Canada and his Regiment including volunteering for The Queens Own Rifles of Canada Museum and this is why I am proud to present MCpl Graham Humphrey with a Quilt of Valour.”

Bayonets in the Bathtub: A Thursday night at the regimental museum

Even though I arrived 15 minutes before our designated “start time”, Graham had already unlocked the office, set up tables for cataloging, and tried to sort out a DVD display that wasn’t working properly; Cheryl had started sorted through and ensuring the proper documentation for a pile of new accessions; and Elizabeth was re-gluing a loose photo on our window exhibit.

Down the hallway, Rob was giving a tour of the museum – interspersed with a lot of reminiscing – to Josie who had joined the QOR at aged 18 in 1972 and one of the first women to wear the QOR cap badge and parachute with them. Later in the evening Cheryl and Emily who are working our “Women in the QOR” exhibit for next March, looked through photos Josie had brought along and made arrangements to formally interview her in the near future.

Alex arrived and got to work installing a fourth hanging rail in the uniform closet above one of the existing rails in a space with a very high ceiling. This will allow us to spread out and better organize this part of our collection but also means a lot of drilling while standing almost on the top of a step ladder.

Laura got to work cataloguing an archival collection from Professor George Henry Needler, Professor of German at the University of Toronto for 45 years, and a Queen’s Own veteran of the Northwest Field Force of 1885. During the First World War, Needler commanded UoT’s Canadian Officers’ Training Corps, and would later publish his own experiences out West in Louis Riel, The Rebellion of 1885. It should be noted that cataloging an archival collection takes a LOT of patience, attention to detail, and ability to grasp a logical organization of the material it contains.

Larry headed into his photography “studio” in the corner of the photo storage room – under the sloping eves and against an internal brick wall. There he continued his seemingly never ending task of photographing each and every artifact in our collection – which include a continuous intake of new accessions. These photographs are used for our collection database, our website, exhibits, banners and signs, shared with family researchers, and uploaded to our Flickr account (currently with over 7,700 photos).

Dave and his nephew Coleman arrived and set to work cataloging objects – photos, uniform pieces, books, equipment, insignia, and all kinds of military ephemera. Some of these were items that had been in the collection but were being cataloged in detail – a project we’d been working on since 2012 – and others were new accessions received over the past year. This cataloging includes detailed descriptions of the artifact, its provenance, size, material, dates, condition and whatever other information we might have, as well as assigning and attaching/affixing an object number. Eventually all this information will be entered into our database which already includes over 1,600 items. And the database allows us to upload our catalog online so anyone can search through our collection!

Alison was in the office working studiously on her computer creating medal description labels that will be added to walls of our “Riflemen” room. These will help visitors identify medals in the many shadows boxes and understand what they were awarded for.

Emily put her fine arts background to work again while planning how best to finish the photo “stand” we created for Ridgeway which consists of two QOR soldiers painted on a wooden sheet with cut outs to poke your heads through for that perfect selfie! Even in its 75% finished state, it was a big hit at Ridgeway in June and we hope to have it set up again for QOR Day at Casa Loma on November 5th.

Graham also was hard at work cataloging objects and finished up his initial batch just in time to receive delivery of a new acquisition – an amazing set of five photo albums which document the WWII service of a junior QOR officer from 1939 to 1946. In great condition, well mounted and almost entirely labelled, they will provide a great addition to our understanding of this period of the regiment’s service.

By now Alex and Elizabeth had also joined the catalogers and were certainly making progress on reducing our backlog!

Meanwhile, as Curator, I was assigning tasks, answering questions, recalling (more or less) information, making decisions, looking for scotch tape, and doing my best to steer the ship.

Part way through the evening I was pleased meet and provide a tour with Captain (Ret’d) Rick Towey, newly appointed Curator of the Royal Regiment of Canada’s regimental museum, located in Fort York Armoury. Rick is anxious to get some advice on how to get started with his new role – the museum (or collection of “stuff dumped in a room” as Rick described it) and some of us will be visiting the Royal’s Museum shortly and hopefully provide some helpful guidance!

As you can see, on any given night there are a wide variety of tasks, all of which are necessary to make things work like a well-oiled machine – more or less. And our volunteers are come with a variety of skills, experience and interests which are critical to creating the kind of museum team we need:

  • Graham, Emily, Dave and Alison are all currently serving members of the Regiment
  • Larry, Shaun (on sick call last night) and Nicole (also absent as she plans her wedding later this month) are all former serving members of the Regiment
  • Cheryl and Elizabeth are graduates of museum studies programs
  • Alex has a Masters in Public History
  • And Laura and Coleman just have an interest in history, museums and archives

A creative, cheerful, hardworking and dedicated team – what more could a curator ask for?

John

(And in case you were wondering, yes we do store bayonets in a bathtub – where else would you put them?!)

Volunteer Profile: John Stephens

Major (Ret’d) John Stephens, CD (at the left above) led three army cadets corps over his 25 years of service with the Cadet Instructor Branch of the Canadian Forces Reserves – the last of which (#142 St Andrew’s College Highland Cadet Corps) was a corps of 550 cadets. Three of his cadets went on to become Commanding Officers of Ontario reserve units: the 48th Highlanders, the Royal Regiment of Canada, and the 1st Hussars in London, Ontario. Another served as Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. In 2013 he was honoured with a Commanding Officer’s Commendation for his efforts at the museum.

Since 2005 John has worked as a member of the Ontario Public Service, mostly recently in the Culture Division of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

How did you end up volunteering at the museum?

One day I got a call from Lieutenant Colonel (Ret’d) Ed Rayment asking if I could join him for lunch one day along with then Museum Committee Chair Lieutenant Colonel (Ret’d) Rob Zeidler. I had commanded the QOR affiliated #96 Trinity College School during Ed’s term as commanding officer of the regiment so we knew each other although it had been some time since our paths last crossed. It seemed they were in rather dire need of a Museum Curator. I asked what I thought were appropriate questions like “how much of a time commitment is involved” (response: a day a month – yeah not!) By the end of the hour I it was apparently a done deal.

What background do you bring with you that you think helps you contribute in this role?

My time with the two QOR affiliated cadet corps gave me lots of exposure to the QOR history and traditions, and I have always been interested in history in general. I’ve occasionally been accused of being a hoarder which is probably not a horrible trait for a curator but I also have a strong need for things to be ORGANIZED! I’ve also had some experience in other volunteer roles with social media and websites which have proven useful.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the museum?

Obviously there are some pretty cool artifacts and stories in our collection but I think the best part is the great volunteers we have. They all come with various backgrounds, skills and interests: some are serving members of the regiment, some are former members, some are museum studies students and graduates, and some have just come out of thin air. Everyone is interested in learning from others and everyone is willing to pitch in doing whatever is needed on that night – and they all have a sense of humour which helps a lot too!

What aspect or content of the museum are you most passionate about and why?

As curator I’d like to think I’m pretty passionate about everything but if I had to pick one aspect, I’d have to say our efforts to connect with a much wider audience through various social media channels and our website. These tools have helped us not only reach out to those who might not have the opportunity to visit the museum but also allowed us to engage others in contributing – by identifying dates and locations of archival film footage, transcribing war diaries, putting names to faces in photos, sharing stories, and many other ways.

Our mandate is not to display items in a display case, but to share the stories of the regiment and the members of the regiment. The more ways we can find to do this and the more people we can include in helping us to do this, the more successful we’ll be in accomplishing it.

Is there one object in the collection that really excites you or that you think people should know about?

That’s a tough one. I’ve already written about the 1866-1882 Nominal Rolls, and the WWI Pridham letters and diaries. Others have mentioned Ensign McEachren’s tunic, and the Boer War ration tin, and the piece of D-Day landing craft.

So perhaps I could mention several large scrapbooks that contain newspaper clippings about the 1910 trip to England when then Colonel Sir Henry Pellat took 600 men (and some horses) at his own expense, to train with the British Army during its summer maneuvers. Taking place during the regiment’s 50th year, this was an extremely significant occasion for those participating – for some a chance to visit family ‘back home’ and for others just a chance to travel and see the world. The were feted by Royalty and Generals and the Lord Mayor of London treated the whole regiment to dinner in the Guildhall – check out some of the photos on our Flickr site.

Throughout the whole trip there were “embedded” reporters from Canadian newspapers who regularly telegraphed back stories to their publishers. And the novelty of a “colonial” regiment coming to train with the regular British Army also meant extensive coverage in British newspapers.

We don’t know who actually deserves the credit, but these clippings were meticulously collected, trimmed, glued into these albums, and each carefully labelled with date and newspaper name. They provide a first hand view of how press of the day perceived the trip, the regiment and of course Sir Henry.

What’s also very satisfying is that these albums recently provided much of the primary research material for a University of Toronto student’s Masters in History paper – which you can read here.

Why do you think a museum like this is important?

There are many ways to serve one’s country but there is little doubt that military service has the greatest likelihood of requiring the ultimate sacrifice. My own ancestors have served in the American revolution (as a Loyalist), in the War of 1812, in the First World War, and the Second World War – the last who did give the ultimate sacrifice, and is buried in a war grave far off in Sicily.

The story of The Queen’s Own Rifles is a story of wars and battles and uniforms and social events – but ultimately it is about individuals who chose, for a wide variety of reasons, to serve their country – and for thousands of those – to die for their country. It is these collective and individual stories that need to be remembered and shared and understood – and in so doing we can honour them and be inspired by them.

Its actually a pretty awesome responsibility when we think of it in those terms!

Would you recommend volunteering to others and if so why?

Of course! The more the merrier. We always have volunteers who can no longer help out for various reasons so new volunteers are always welcome. And as others have already pointed out, Casa Loma is a pretty cool place to work in!

Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t have an opportunity to work together with the former Curator before taking over. Captain Peter Simundson had been involved with the museum for 41 years and has an incredible amount of knowledge about both the history of the regiment and the museum and archives collection. Although he’s been very helpful to me over the past few years I feel we’ve failed to capture much of museum’s corporate memory.

I’d also like to make note of the support from serving members of the regiment and former members in the association. Over 65 members of the regiment have assisted at the museum in some way – painting or lifting or at our QOR Day or by donating objects and photographs from their deployments. And both the current and previous Commanding Officers and Regimental Sergeant Majors and other senior staff have been extremely supportive of our efforts which just goes to prove that its not just my museum or their museum but our museum!

If you’d like to help volunteer at the museum, check out our Volunteer page for information and an application.

Volunteer Profile: Master Corporal Graham Humphrey

Master Corporal Graham Humphrey rose to the rank of Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major with the 2881 Queen’s Own Cadet Corps before joining the regiment in January 2007.  He started volunteering with the museum in February 2013 and since then has put in over an amazing 350 hours! His primary interest is in the Second World War and he is slowly but steadily transcribing the QOR unit war diaries for that period and posting them on the museum website. He also took the lead in designing and creating our new “1945 to Present” exhibit room. And our QOR Days at Casa Loma would not be the same without his efforts as OPI for participating current serving soldiers and re-enactors. 

In December 2015 he was awarded the QOR Associations’ “Rifleman of the Year” award for his many efforts including the museum.

When he’s not working on museum “stuff” you can find this para qualified soldier jumping out of airplanes (70 jumps), participating in re-enactments or working on film sets making things go bang.

How did you end up volunteering at the museum?

I’ve always been interested in military history and I’m currently serving in the regiment so it seemed like a logical thing to do.

What background do you bring with you that you think helps you contribute in this role?

My knowledge of regimental history and historical memorabilia as well as the detail of regimental accoutrements and equipment that were used throughout the unit’s service.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the museum?

The surprises every volunteer night brings when finding new artifacts that were collecting dust in the back corners and bringing them to light.

What aspect or content of the museum are you most passionate about and why?

 Definitely the personal stories of rifleman who served the regiment before me and then attempting to tell their stories to the best of our ability.

Is there one object in the collection that really excites you or that you think people should know about?

The one object in the collection that really excited me when it came into the museum is Rifleman Jim Wilkins uniform – in particular the invasion boots that were worn by him when he landed at Juno Beach on D-Day.

Why do you think a museum like this is important?

The museum is important for us in the regiment to tell the history of our fallen and who has served before us. As well it helps us educate our new rifleman and the public on what and where the Regiment served.

Would you recommend volunteering to others and if so why?

If you currently serve in the regiment please remember the fallen and those who are currently not with us who served the Regiment and Canada and come help us do that.

If you’d like to help volunteer at the museum, check out our Volunteer page for information and an application.

Volunteer Profile: Joe Wyatt

Joe Wyatt started volunteering at the museum in October 2014 and has put in over 75 hours responding to research questions, helping at events and generally pitching in where ever needed! More recently Joe has taken over posting our social media “on this day in history” posts.

How did you end up volunteering at the museum?

I have always had a passion for history and was intrigued by the museum when I visited Casa Loma after moving to Canada 2 years ago. The museum provided a great opportunity to contribute to something worthwhile.

What background do you bring with you that you think helps you contribute in this role?

My Bachelors degree in History has benefitted the analytical nature of the research role.  My work in the educational travel industry organising World War I & II battlefield tours to Europe also helps to connect the importance of keeping people (particularly younger generations) informed of the military history of Canada and sacrifices made by the armed forces.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the museum?

The satisfaction of being able to respond to research enquiries with further information on their relatives.  Finding information on Soldiers in the regiment could range from scouring through the vast quantity of photos at the museum to manually searching through a pre-WWI service roll. Generating discussion and new interest in the Queen’s Own Rifles through the Social media posts on the Museum’s Facebook and Twitter accounts is also rewarding.

What aspect or content of the museum are you most passionate about and why?

The portrait collection of the early Commanding Officers of the regiment are a great focal point when visitors come up to the 3rd floor in Casa Loma. The exhibition adds context to the chronological flow of the museum.

Tunic of Ensign Malcolm McEcheran, first casualty of the Queen's Own Rifles at the Battle of Ridgeway (or Limeridge) June, 1866
Tunic of Ensign Malcolm McEcheran, first casualty of the Queen’s Own Rifles at the Battle of Ridgeway (or Limeridge) June, 1866

Is there one object in the collection that really excites you or that you think people should know about?

The tunic of Ensign Malcolm McEachren is particularly significant, as he was the first casualty of the QOR at the Battle of Ridgeway in 1866. What makes this more fascinating is that the bullet hole is still clearly visible.  The D-Day landing craft fragment is a close second.

Why do you think a museum like this is important?

It allows visitors to get a greater understanding not only of Canada’s military role from 1860 to the present day through the oldest serving regiment but also how many local Torontonians impacted on that.

Would you recommend volunteering to others and if so why?

Absolutely, being a part of the museum is a rewarding experience and there are always a wide range of jobs and tasks to keep you interested.

If you’d like to help volunteer at the museum, check out our Volunteer page for information and an application.

Volunteer Profile: Cheryl Copson

Cheryl (at right above) has been volunteering at our museum since February 2013 and has given us over 350 hours of her time. Her background in museum studies has been extremely useful to us as we’ve worked hard to bring our museum into the 21st century. And of course her cheerful and positive outlook and willingness to pitch in where ever she’s needed, are greatly appreciated!

How did you end up volunteering at the museum?

I have always had a passion for museums and history. While completing my Master’s degree, I did an internship at the Fort Erie Historical Museum. During an event for the Anniversary of the Battle of Ridgeway, I was introduced to John, who was quite interested in getting some volunteers from the Museum program. From there my interest in both history and museum lead me to start volunteering with the QOR.

What background do you bring with you that you think helps you contribute in this role?

I bring experience from working at several different museums. This has given me knowledge of best practice and techniques that assist with the proper cataloguing and storing of the objects and archives. This will help to ensure that the objects entrusted to the museum will be available to generations to come.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the museum?

I enjoy being a part of the transformations the museum has made. It is exciting to see the improvements to the exhibits, which are apparent to the public, and to the systems in place to protect the objects. Each week the museum takes steps to better itself, and it’s exciting to be a part of that.

What aspect or content of the museum are you most passionate about and why?

As a true “museum nerd”, I am passionate about the proper tracking of objects and their provenance. I think that this information forms the basis for creating new exhibits, and allowing members of the regiment or public to research and find information they may be interested in.

Tunic of Ensign Malcolm McEcheran, first casualty of the Queen's Own Rifles at the Battle of Ridgeway (or Limeridge) June, 1866
Tunic of Ensign Malcolm McEcheran, first casualty of the Queen’s Own Rifles at the Battle of Ridgeway (or Limeridge) June, 1866

Is there one object in the collection that really excites you or that you think people should know about?

Ensign Malcom McEachren’s Tunic. This object is one of a kind AND incredibly important in Canadian history. McEachren was the first soldier to fall during the Battle of Ridgeway on June 2, 1866. The Battle of Ridgeway (or Limeridge) was Canada’s first battle fought exclusively by Canadian soldiers and led by Canadian officers.  This made McEachren the first Canadian Soldier to fall in battle on Canadian soil. This battle was an important factor in the path towards confederation.

Why do you think a museum like this is important?

Merely the fact that the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada is Canada’s longest continuously-serving regiment is reason enough to justify the museum’s importance. The QOR has been a part of every major war in history since its inception, which provides a unique opportunity to showcase Canadian history through the eyes of the Queen’s Own soldiers. It also means that many people are tied to the QOR and its history. Telling the story of the QOR is therefore telling the stories of many Canadians and their families.

Would you recommend volunteering to others and if so why?

YES! There are so many different aspects to the museum, and therefore many different things that need to be done to keep improving it. I think that anyone with an interest in history, research, museums, or administration would find enjoyment in volunteering with the museum.

Any other thoughts you’d like to:

Before coming to the QOR my background did not include Military history. I’ve truly enjoyed both being able to add my skills to the mix of volunteers, but I think more than that, I’ve enjoyed learning about the QOR and the military in Canada.

If you’d like to help volunteer at the museum, check out our Volunteer page for information and an application.

CWO Scott F. Patterson CD

Commanding Officer’s Statement on the Death of
Chief Warrant Officer Scott F. Patterson CD

To my fellow Riflemen and friends of the Regiment:

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I announce the passing of a dedicated and beloved member of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada: Chief Warrant Officer Scott F. Patterson CD. He passed away while surrounded by family and friends at Sunnybrook Hospital on Wednesday February 10th 2016, after battling cancer over the last year.

The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada mourns the loss of one of our own and we wish to express our deepest sympathies to his family and friends who are mourning with us today.

‘Paddy’ was well liked and respected by everyone who knew him. His dedication to the Regiment and Canadian Armed Forces was unwavering, his loyalty to his friends and family unmatched and his cheerful disposition steadfast no matter the situation. Even in his last days his dignity and wonderful sense of humour were ever present. Scott had a passion for military history and his knowledge of our traditions was incredible. He was a fount of information and support for numerous Commanding Officers’ and Regimental Sergeants Major over his 37 years of service to Canada, including his time as RSM of 32 CBG Battle School and RSM of 32 Service Battalion. He will be deeply missed.

Our attention now turns towards supporting Scott’s family, his friends and each other. Further details will be forthcoming on a service at Moss Park Armoury, in keeping with his wishes. The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada is a united, strong and resilient family. As RSM Patterson would expect of us, we will lean on each other for comfort and support in the coming days and get through this together.

On behalf of Riflemen everywhere, RSM Martin and I would like to send our most sincere condolences to his family and friends in their hour of need. We hope it is of some comfort to know that you are not grieving alone.

Goodbye Mr. Patterson: we are better soldiers for having served with you and better people for having known you. Rest in peace.

Sandi Banerjee
Lieutenant Colonel
Commanding Officer

Scott was also a volunteer at the Regimental Museum and a font of knowledge regarding regimental history.  We will miss him very much.

Volunteer Recognition Night 2016

On Thursday January 28th over 30 volunteers joined us at the Officers’ Mess for a reception to recognize volunteer service to the museum in 2015. In total 93 volunteers put in over 1,600 hours!

We were pleased to be joined by Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Lionel Goffart, members of the Museum Board of Governors,  and the Deputy Commanding Officer and President of the Officers’ Mess Committee, Major Shawn Stewart.

Thanks to Adam Hermant, Rob Chan, and Pat Di Donato of the Liberty Entertainment Group, we were able to presents some gifts to our top volunteers in terms of hours of service:

  1. Larry Hicks (235 hours)
  2. Graham Humphrey (184 hours)
  3. Shaun Kelly (121 hours)
  4. Ken Kominek (88 hours)
  5. Cheryl Copson (77 hours)
  6. Joe Wyatt (76 hours)
  7. Rob Grieve (73 hours)

The presentations were followed by a tour of the various messes at Moss Park Armoury which are filled with fascinating collections of military heritage.

We’re also pleased that some of our occasional volunteers have expressed an interest in becoming more regular and we look forward to another successful year in 2016!

Volunteer Profile: Larry Hicks

Captain (Ret’d) Larry Hicks (in centre above with wife Lee) served for over 40 years with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and was also employed with the Toronto Police Services. Retirement from both gave him time to volunteer at the Regimental Museum and since then he has been photographing literally thousands of artifacts for our collection database, creating images for our exhibits, and capturing museum events. His sense of humour, willingness to pitch in where ever needed, and plethora of QOR memories, make him a much appreciated member of the team!

How did you end up volunteering at the museum?

I was at the annual Officers’ Mess Christmas Luncheon when I struck up a conversation with John Stephens. I knew him socially from past mess functions. He asked me what I was doing since I retired and I replied that I was pursuing hobbies that I never had time for, photography in particular. That’s what retired people do.

He paused for a sec, his expression changed and he smiled. He knew he had me. He needed a photographer at the museum, and I wanted a way to stay involved with the regiment.. And, who doesn’t like castles!

So, for the past 3 years, I’ve been photographing, copying and displaying the many exhibits we have at the museum.

What background do you bring with you that you think helps you contribute in this role?

My last 15 years with the Toronto Police Service were spent as a crime scene Detective. It was a challenging job, and a rewarding way to cap a 37 year police career. My job was to collect evidence at major crime scenes, but I also had to present that evidence in a courtroom and reproduce the scene for judges, juries and the media. TV only shows half the job.

The camera was my main tool and I loved that I was getting paid to practice my hobby.

It was an easy transition to museum photography. Similar product but a different audience, and a lot less stress.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the museum?

I have a pleasant time with the people I work with. Only half have a military background, but we all love history and we all care about the regiment. We go to the pub for a pint and a chat after work.

Casa Loma is a cool place. Every time I go there I find something else that fascinates me. The summer concerts. The movie shoots. Christmas music on the Wurlitzer. It’s good that they don’t pay me, sometimes I don’t get much work done.

What aspect or content of the museum are you most passionate about and why?

Take a look at our product. The displays. This website. Facebook. We have over 5,000 photos on Flickr alone. Then look at other museum sites. We put on a good show and were proud of it.

South African Ration tin (lead)
South African Ration tin (lead)

Is there one object in the collection that really excites you or that you think people should know about?

Some people are into uniforms. Others are into weapons. I want to tell the story of the grunt, the guy who put his butt on the line for his country, and what he had to endure.

There is a can of field rations in the South Africa exhibit. Something all soldiers can relate to. It’s a can of mystery meat sealed with lead. LEAD! No wonder they’re all smiling in the old photos.

Why do you think a museum like this is important?

A nasty little word I kept hearing throughout my military career was “restructuring”. Regiments come and go. No one knows what the army will look like in another 155 years, but we can show the world what it looked like 155 years ago.

Would you recommend volunteering to others and if so why?

Absolutely. It’s a way to give back. If not to the regiment, do it for history. And, it’s a good group of people to hang out with.

If you’d like to help volunteer at the museum, check out our Volunteer page for information and an application.

Volunteer Profile: Shaun Kelly

CWO (Ret’d) Shaun Kelly (at right above) has volunteered at the museum since 2012 in the much appreciated role of Assistant Curator. Through some very challenging times he’s brought his hard work ethic, positive outlook and strong organizational skills to help us keep the museum moving forward. In 2014 Shaun was presented the Commanding Officer’s Commendation for his work with the museum.

After retiring as Regimental Sergeant Major, Shaun began work as a civilian with the Department of National Defence in the position of 4th Division Safety Officer.

How did you end up volunteering at the museum?

I was recruited by Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Rob Zeidler as part of a “team” when former Curator Captain Peter Simundson retired. After 33 years of full and part-time service I was still interested in serving the Regiment in some form and my wife said I should get out of the house a least once a week.

What background do you bring with you that you think helps you contribute in this role?

As a former RSM and a member of the Regiment for 33 years I had a good idea of its history, accomplishments, and stories. I have a particular interest in our history before 1900 as I don’t think we know or share enough about that time period considering it includes the Battle of Ridgeway, the Northwest Canada Campaign and South Africa which have been somewhat overshadowed by the huge accomplishments of WWI and WWII.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the museum?

I enjoy the research I have done on our Regimental Sergeant Majors since unlike the Commanding Officers, no formal records had been kept so finding names and dates has been a real challenge. This research continues when I’m not putting up pictures, building shelving units or cleaning-out storage closets.

What aspect or content of the museum are you most passionate about and why?

As above but including learning more about the soldiers who served during the first 50 years, what they did, where they lived and what may have motivated them to join the militia.

Is there one object in the collection that really excites you or that you think people should know about?

The photos of the different Companies that were taken after the Battle of Ridgway in 1866 I find fascinating. Firstly, photography was in its infancy so to take the time to carefully document who was there must have taken a good amount of effort. Secondly, you can see real character in the faces of the men, they looked like a real tough bunch that certainly could have done some damage to the Fenians had the battle gone differently and they had the chance to close with the enemy.

Number 10 Company June 1866
Number 10 (Highland) Company June 1866

Why do you think a museum like this is important?

Countless thousands of soldiers have served under the Queen’s Own Cap badge over the past 155 years, 1700 of them have died, many others have been decorated for acts of courage and bravery, we have an obligation to remember and share their stories. The museum is an important way to preserve their memory but also to share the Regiment’s history with our serving soldiers and the public in general.

Would you recommend volunteering to others and if so why?

Our volunteers are a diverse group: serving and former members of the Regt, civilians  with a museum background and people with an interest in military history, some help at the museum and some help virtually via the internet, some come in every week and others only come by for specific tasks, all have one thing in common that is the betterment of our museum to become a multimedia resource to share our history and heritage, everyone has something to offer.

If you’d like to help volunteer at the museum, check out our Volunteer page for information and an application.

#GivingTuesday?

So it’s almost Tuesday. Hopefully you’ve survived the Black Friday crowds or maybe you opted to splurge online instead on Cyber Monday. Or maybe you didn’t partake in either but just got bombarded with promotional emails for the past week. But now we’d like to change the channel because December 1st is not just Tuesday, its #GivingTuesday!

What is GivingTuesday?

Imagine a day dedicated to giving back … around the world, across Canada and in your own community! Just as Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season for many people, GivingTuesday is the opening day of the giving season. GivingTuesday is a global day of giving. GivingTuesday is a time to celebrate and encourage activities that support charities and non profits. Whether it’s making a donation, volunteering time, helping a neighbour or spreading the word, GivingTuesday is a movement for everyone who wants to give something back.

And you’re telling me this because….?

Today and frankly until the end of the year, everyone is telling you they need you to give – Santa boxes for needy children, food banks need volunteers, and many local churches and charities are preparing to receive refugees in the coming weeks. And as passionate as I am about the work we do, I’m not asking that you make support for The Queen’s Own Rifles Regimental Museum a priority over these other urgent needs.

But some of you may be in a position where you can support more than one cause – be that with your money or your time. If you can make a financial donation great – it would go to help us with projects like digitizing 16mm films in our collection before they become unplayable; or to purchase new digital display products that can make our exhibits more engaging. You can donate on our GivingTuesday page to the Queen’s Own Rifles Trust which operates the museum – just type MUSEUM FUND in the online form Message box.

Some of you may be willing to give of your time as volunteers. We have a variety of opportunities. We generally gather at the museum most Thursday evenings from 1900 to 2200 hrs to work on very hands on projects from exhibits to hanging pictures to cleaning to cataloguing. But we also have volunteers who work remotely on research or transcribing or other tasks that don’t require your physical presence. If you’re interested in volunteering with us, check out our Volunteer page and complete an application.

What if I can’t do either at the moment – can I still help?

Giving-Tuesday-2015_250x250_greyYou can always become a social ambassador and share the word on Facebook, Twitter and Instragram about #givingTuesday – just make sure you use this hashtag.

Whatever the cause, we hope you’ll consider investing your time or financial resources or become a social ambassador on #GivingTuesday!

Volunteer Profile: Jim Lutz

This is the first in a series of interviews profiling our museum volunteers. We begin with Jim Lutz (at right in photo above) who has served on the museum board of governors for several years. A US veteran of the Vietnam war, Jim also served for many years as a civilian instructor with the Queen’s Own Rifles affiliated 17 Upper Canada College Rifles, 96 Trinity College School and 2881 QOR cadet corps.

How did you end up volunteering at the museum? 

As a member of the QOR Trust Fund, I was involved with the City staff in transitioning Casa Loma to the Liberty Group, and I have stayed involved with the Museum because of my interest in history.

What background do you bring with you that you think helps you contribute in this role? 

I have a strong background in military history, having been a graduate student of C.P.Stacey at the University of Toronto.  I have been associated with the QOR for over 30 years, so I know its history well and have known many of its distinguished veterans.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the museum? 

I enjoy helping to preserve our history, and meeting the other volunteers.

What aspect or content of the museum are you most passionate about and why? 

I enjoy reading all the documents in the archives, which tell so much about the history of the QOR.

Is there one object in the collection that really excites you or that you think people should know about? 

Two items: The Paardeberg bugle, and the number side panel from one of the D-Day landing craft that was preserved by the Lieutenant Colonel Elliot Dalton who commanded one of the QOR companies in the first wave on D-Day.

21858260414_7ca2793931_z
Douglas William’s bugle used during the South African War to sound the charge at the Battle of Paardeberg

Why do you think a museum like this is important? 

The Museum shows the volunteer spirit of Torontonians who served in the QOR, and how these people participated in some of the most important events of modern history.

Would you recommend volunteering to others and if so why? 

Depends upon your interests – if you love history, or if you have served in the QOR, or if you enjoy re-enactment, or if you value local history, then any of these is a good reason to volunteer.  Also, you will see tangible results of your work, which will be shared with all the visitors to Casa Loma.

2014 Volunteer Recognition Night

On February 13th, we held our first Museum Volunteer Recognition Night to thank those volunteers who have helped us out in the 2012 and 2013. Thirty-five volunteers and guest gathered the Queen’s Own Rifles Officers’ Mess at Moss Park Armoury for food and refreshments all courtesy of a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. We’d like to thank the President of the Mess Committee and the mess staff for a great spread!

We we’re also pleased to be joined by RSM Mark Shannon and Captain Adam Hermant, President of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Trust which “owns and operates” the museum.

From October 2012 to December 31, 2013, seventy-four volunteers provided over 950 hours of service! These volunteers come from former members of the regiment and their families; serving members of the regiment; students from various museum studies programs; and friends of the regiment and museum – each bringing different talents, skills and experience. This event was also an opportunity for them to meet and get to know each other.

We have an ambitious “to-do” list for the museum and we can’t hope to make any significant progress without the help of volunteers. It was a little slow to get started with just Clay and Nancy Downes and Larry Hicks in the Fall of 2012 but as the word got out, volunteers were coming out in greater and greater numbers.

So what have they been doing? They’ve catalogued and photographed artifacts, cleaned display cases, built storage shelves, constructed exhibit walls, painted, moved display cabinets, planned our First World War commemorations and activities, and organized and support events (including members of the band) just to name a few things.

We also took this opportunity to recognize some volunteer who had put in significant hours of service:

  • Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) John Fotheringham and Master Corporal Graham Humphrey each put in over 25 hours
  • Captain (Ret) Larry Hicks put in over 50 hours and
  • Nancy and Clay Downes together put in over 200 hours of service!
Special Presentation to Nancy and Clay Downes for their 200+ hours of service in the past 14 months!
Special Presentation to Nancy and Clay Downes for their 200+ hours of service in the past 14 months!

Clay and Nancy were presented with the first edition of the QOR Portraits book as a special thank you.

RSM Mark Shannon also took a moment to thank on behalf of the regiment, Curator Major (Ret) John Stephens and Assistant Curator CWO (Ret) Shaun Kelly for their service over the past eighteen months.

Curator Major John Stephens  (L) with RSM CWO Mark Shannon (R)
Curator Major John Stephens (L) with RSM CWO Mark Shannon (R)

Thanks to all our volunteers from 2012 and 2013 even if you couldn’t make our recognition night and we look forward to another successful year in 2014!

National Philanthropy Day and Charitable Giving

“They who give have all the things.  They who withhold have nothing.”
(Hindu Proverb)

Did you know November 15 is National Philanthropy Day? 

NPD.Sig.Hor.ColorThis special day is set aside to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy—and those people active in the philanthropic community—have made to our lives, our communities and our world.

What makes philanthropy so special is that no one is required to give of themselves. There are no national laws or regulations which mandate that you must volunteer or get involved. Philanthropy is so powerful and inspiring precisely because it is voluntary—that through the goodness of our hearts, through our need to connect, through our desire to see a better world, we come together to improve the quality of life for all people.

Through your generosity, billions of dollars and volunteer hours are given every year to countless nonprofits and charities around the world. Millions and millions of programs—from feeding the hungry and clothing the needy, curing the sick, saving the environment—happen every day because of you and your commitment to your favorite causes.

On National Philanthropy Day®, charities around the world thank you for your support. Your involvement—whether it’s mentoring, volunteering, giving, staffing an event or showing your support on social media—makes philanthropy possible, and makes National Philanthropy Day so special and meaningful.

Philanthropy and our Regimental Museum

In 2013 we’ve been very thankful for the many generous volunteers who have assisted us in a whole variety of ways at the Regimental Museum. So far this year we’ve seen 43 volunteers provide over 675 hours of service – from cataloging and photography to construction  and painting to exhibit planning and event support! And aside  from these recorded hours, are many many more where are supporters have helped connect with us and share our Museum and the history we tell, through their social media outlets.

Volunteers are really priceless but if we did chose to put a monetary value to their time and effort, even at minimum wage that amount would exceed our annual operating budget – and the year still has a month and a half to go!

We have also been the recipient of gifts in kind from four corporate donors in 2013:

  • The Hudson Bay Company (Flagship Store)- Mannequins
  • Benjamin Moore Paints – Paint
  • Pegasus Catering – Food vouchers
  • Vifloor Canada Ltd – Computers

The Museum’s operating funding (for day to day expenses), rent and  insurance is provided by the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Trust Fund – to which many of your already contribute financially. Together the Trust, our dedicated volunteers and generous corporate donors form a pretty formidable combination.

But we’d also ask you to consider a special financial donation, particularly in recognition of National Philanthropy Day, to help us move closer to creating a museum of the 21st century – one that will help us tell the very important story of our Regiment and our Rifleman in the most engaging and effective manner we can.

You can mail a cheque to (note your donation is for the Museum Fund:

QORofC Trust Fund
Box 250, Unit 12A
4981 Highway 7 East
Markham, ON L3R 1N1

You can also make a donation online via our Trust Fund’s CanadaHelps page (under Fund/Designation select “Museum Fund”.)

We are most grateful for both your volunteer and financial contributions.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
(Theodore Roosevelt)

WANTED: Social Media Nerd (Volunteer)

TwitterOK well the position is actually Social Media Assistant not nerd, but you probably get the drift. We’re looking for someone comfortable with and experienced in using social media to connect and engage with visitors, friends, volunteers and financial supporters of our museum. Definitely someone who is familiar with and a regular user of Facebook and Twitter and preferably someone who understands Pinterest and WordPress as well. Experience using HootSuite or  other tools for managing social media is also a plus!

You’d assist in preparing “this day in history” posts, following social media mentions of the QOR or our museum, re-posting items of interest from similar organizations, responding to comments/questions from followers and even perhaps creating some blog posts.

facebook_logoYou’d work with the Curator within the guidelines we are developing and would work from your own computer and/or smartphone or other device. Besides social media cred, you need have an interest in the history of the Queen’s Own Rifles (duh) and ideally a connection to the regiment (but the latter isn’t a deal breaker!)

If you think you might be interested in taking on this volunteer position, please send an email to museum@qormuseum.org (please don’t apply via the “comments” section below although we’re happy to respond to questions about the position that way.) You should include a description of your experience in relation to what we’re looking for above and links to your FB, Twitter accounts and other accounts as a kind of portfolio for us to check out!

We look forward to hearing from you soon!