Tag Archives: 1866

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

“The College Rifle Company”

Reprinted from “A History of Upper Canada College 1829-1892” compiled and edited by George Dickson, M.A. and G. Mercer Adam and published in Toronto in 1893. Accessed via Google Books.



As far back as 1863, when I entered Upper Canada College, and I do not know how long before, the older boys were assembled weekly for drill under the instruction of Major Goodwin. They were supplied with rifles and bayonets, waist belts and pouches. The room next the lavatory was set apart as an armoury. Out of this drill class the Rifle Company was evolved under the influence of vitality and environment. The presiding genius under whose auspices this took place was the gallant old soldier in command. What boy of that day does not remember him with affection? A strict disciplinarian, yet liking better to silence a frolicsome private with a harmless witticism that held him up to ridicule, than to bid him “fall out.” This was the severest penalty he ever inflicted, and it was much more keenly felt as a disgrace than the hundred lines of Virgil which the Principal immediately imposed by way of ratifying the sentence. The kindhearted old Major always seemed sorry the moment after, for in the next breath he would temper his rebuke with a cheery word and good-natured apology for the offender. He was bluff* and boyish, although his shoulders stooped and his head was grey. He loved the boys with all his heart, and they fully returned his affection. His quarters in the old Bathurst Street barracks were always free to them, and his happiest moments seemed to be when reciting his favourite “Tam o’ Shanter” to an admiring crowd, who never wearied of applauding the really splendid elocution.

The activity of the Fenian brotherhood in 1865 awakened much uneasiness in Canada. Large numbers of volunteers were enrolled, and the Military Schools were crowded with cadets. As in 1837, College boys were not behind in offering their services. Three of us, Fuller, Wilson, and myself, had obtained second-class certificates, and the idea was mooted of transforming our drill association into a company of the “Queen’s Own.”  The consent of the Principal having been obtained, Major Goodwin entered heartily into our plans. The boys met in the Prayer room one afternoon in December, 1865, and amid great enthusiasm elected Frank C. Draper, an old College boy and ex-officer of the “Queen’s Own,” as Captain, Valancey E. Fuller, Lieutenant, and M. Wilson, Ensign. William M. Richards, ______ Watson, and myself, were chosen Sergeants. I cannot remember the names of the other non-commissioned officers, if there were any. Enrolment went briskly on. The cubits of our stature were measured against the wall of the Principal’s room. What heroes we were in the eyes of those whose heads could not touch the ruler held at the standard height! The company was duly gazetted in General Orders of the 12th January, 1866, and attached to the 2nd Battalion, “Queen’s Own Rifles.”

On March the 8th, some volunteers were called out, and amongst others, the “Queen’s Own.” The College Company was not mentioned in the General Order, but the boys would not be suppressed. With the consent of Major (now Lieut-Col.) Gillmor, then in command, the boys appeared at every parade and march-out, — drilling as faithfully as others, but without any pay. This latter was a consideration to which our knightly souls were utterly oblivious.  Class work was sadly interrupted. Every week there were evening drills and a Saturday afternoon march-out.  Not one of the company was twenty years old, yet all tramped through the mud with the endurance and light-heartedness of veterans. Woe to the boy who stepped around a puddle instead of marching through it, or grumbled when an unlucky step filled his boot with ice-water. He was the butt of ironical sympathy for days afterwards. Our youthful appearance won us a somewhat patronizing regard from the rest of the battalion, and, in their paternal affection, they nicknamed us “the babies.” So far from being offended, the boys shewed the genuine stuff they were made of by accepting the soubriquet, and trying to make the name an honoured one. When, at the close of that period of active service. Major Gillmor complimented the company in his address at the final parade, and three cheers were generously given for “the babies,” we felt that the respect of the other corps had been completely won.

At that time many companies had their own marching songs. The College boys, in view of the juvenile position assigned to them, adopted as theirs the nursery hymn “Joyful,” fitting to its tune nonsensical words such as —

“He that hath plenty of spondulics
And giveth his neighbour none,
He shan’t have any of my spondulics
When his spondulics are done.

Chorus : “0, that will be joyful,
Joyful, joyful,
that will be joyful, when his
Spondulics are done.”

Other verses followed ad lib, “He that hath plenty of sauerkraut, peanuts,” &c., &c., until invention was exhausted. The ethics of the song were unimpeachable, and there was not the slightest thought of irreverence towards sacred associations. Anything of that kind would have been treated with scorn as utterly “low.” It was simply a boyish response to good-natured chaffing.

Few members of the corps will forget the excitement of St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, 1866. Some days previous a rumour spread to the effect that bodies of men, marching in military order and armed with pikes, had been seen parading the streets after midnight. A guard of citizens was organized and a night patrol instituted. Fears were expressed that the usual St. Patrick’s Day procession would be the occasion of an outbreak on one side or the other. In Montreal and Quebec these parades were abandoned, but the Toronto societies determined to display their green banners as usual. Although no one believed that local Fenians would give any trouble, yet there was then, as now, an excitable element of the opposite party who might attack a procession, and those marching in it, fearing such an interruption, might carry concealed weapons. The throwing of a single stone might start a sanguinary conflict. The “Queen’s Own ” and the *’ Tenth Royals ” were assembled at the drill shed early in the forenoon and k^t there until towards evening. The College Company was with the rest of the battalion. Rations were served about noon. Drill and frolic filled up the quickly passing hours, and not a few voted it the jolliest pic-nic they had ever attended. Yet, beneath all the merriment, there were serious thoughts, for we had ball cartridges in our pouches, and many of us remembered the standing order never to fire over the heads of a riotous crowd. It was with feelings of intense relief that the citizens saw the volunteers returning to their homes peacefully that evening.

Although relieved from active service on Good Friday, March 30th, the “Queen’s Own” continued battalion drills at least weekly, sometimes  oftener. At all of these the College Company was present. There was a lull in the excitement. The O’Mahony wing of the Fenians was making a demonstration at Eastport, Maine, and the Roberts faction was temporarily inactive. The volunteers were recalled from the frontier. A grand concert in the drillshed, which held 10,000 people comfortably, on the evening of the Queen’s Birthday, seemed a fitting mode of celebrating the re-establishment of public confidence. Meantime “General” Sweeney had succeeded in effecting a reconciliation of rival factions, and on May 30th was announced as on his way to Canada at the head of the Fenian “army.” Fuller despatches arrived next day, and that night the militia of Canada were again called to arms. In March the Government asked for 10,000 volunteers and were offered 180,000 — now the response was no less enthusiastic.

When we assembled in the Prayer room on the morning of Friday, June 1st, Mr. Cockburn announced that the Fenians had crossed the Niagara River and were in possession of Fort Erie, and that the “Queen’s Own” had been ordered to meet them. The College Company was also called out, and members would report at once in uniform at the armoury. After a few words regarding the gravity of the occasion, the Principal dismissed the school for the day. The company mustered in full strength within an hour afterwards, only to find to its chagrin that, by special orders of General Napier, it was to remain in garrison and furnish the necessary guards for the armouries and military stores. It was with difficulty that the boys could be restrained from deserting to join the battalion. Many refused to wear their uniform when off duty. The order was an eminently wise and considerate one, but the boys felt that it carried the reproach of “babyhood” a little too far. They resented such an implication of juvenility. One admires their spirit and is not surprised that they failed to appreciate the responsibility resting upon their elders. It was quite true that they were too young for the hardships of service in the field ; most of them had been sent to school to study and not to play the amateur soldier, and their parents would have justly blamed the Principal for having permitted the formation of the corps; besides this the duty laid upon .them was a necessary and honourable one, and fell most fittingly upon the junior company of the battalion.

For two days the College Rifles were the only troops in the city, and furnished the guard on the Friday and Saturday nights succeeding the departure of the volunteers. I need not describe the excitement of those days. College boys helped to swell the crowds around the bulletin boards and added their voices to the cheers that rang out to the accompaniment of the Cathedral chimes when news of the rout of the invaders arrived.  About three o’clock on Sunday morning the volunteers from the country began to arrive. They were marched up from the railway station in companies and dismissed to ‘billets for breakfast. To me, the arrival of these raw troops was a deeply interesting sight. They came evidently from the farm and the workshop. It might be that the first gun of a great war had been fired at Ridgeway, — we did not know. If it was so, every one of these men was ready. There was no noisy frolic or loud laughter among them. Every word of command was heard with painful distinctness in the quiet of that Sabbath morning. When dismissed, one group after another struck up old-fashioned Psalm tunes, and set off singing them to their new quarters. One would have thought that Cromwell’s army or a regiment of Covenanters had reappeared among us. With such defenders, we did not fear should Lundy’s Lane or Queenston Heights come to be fought over again. Few Churches held service that evening, for nearly every person crowded towards the Yonge Street Wharf to meet the “City of Toronto” with its precious freight of dead and wounded. With another member of the company, like myself just off guard duty, I joined the crowd and was near the wharf when the steamer came in. To my surprise I heard the familiar voice of Lieut. Fuller in command of an escort composed of the College Company. It accompanied the five hearses to their destinations through thronged streets, amid a silence only broken by exclamations of sympathy and sorrow. Every head was uncovered as the dead heroes passed by.

On the Tuesday following a public funeral was held, and the bodies of Ensign McEachern and Privates Defries, Smith, Alderson, and Tempest lay in state in the drill shed. The gallery erected for the concert so recently held afforded a suitable elevation for the caskets. Ranged around these, the boys of our corps stood as a guard of honour, resting on their arms reversed, from eleven a.m. to one p.m. The company took part in all the military funerals of that sad time, and on one occasion, I think the one just referred to, furnished the firing party.

During the fortnight following the raid Toronto swarmed with volunteers, most of whom remained only a few days until formed into provisional battalions. Whilst these were in town, the College Company was released from the duty of furnishing guards. But there was the possibility that a sudden order from Ottawa might remove the guard on duty, and it was accordingly agreed that should the College bell ring at any time out of class hours, the members of the company would understand it as a signal to assemble at the armoury. One night as I was just about to retire I heard the well-known sound. It took very few seconds to resume my uniform, but, before I reached the street, every bell in the city was ringing the “general alarm.” The din was enough to warrant the conclusion that the Gael was indeed at our gates. I lived about a mile from the College, and only arrived in time to take my place at the head of the company as coverer and lead the way to the drill shed, then situated between Front and Wellington Streets, at the east end of the Parliament Buildings. A dense crowd was already assembled at the corner of Simcoe and Wellington Streets, and, as we drew near, I heard some one call out: “It’s the College boys, let’s give them three cheers !” This they did with a heartiness that made us feel modestly embarrassed. Acknowledging the honour in military fashion, we entered the drill shed, discovering then the cause of the ovation with which we had just been honoured. We were the first company to report itself in obedience to the summons. It was found shortly afterwards that we were not needed. A few companies had been ordered to Prescott, but enough remained for guard duty. In about an hour we were dismissed with not undeserved compliments. On the return of the “Queen’s Own” from Stratford, after the engagement at Ridgeway, the College Rifles met the battalion at the railway station and accompanied it in its march through the streets. Although they did not hear bullets whistle, the College boys felt that they had won some slight share in the magnificent welcome the regiment received.

During the summer following the Fenian raid a military camp was formed at Thorold, and the Upper Canada College Rifles united with the University Company to form one corps. The battalion was landed at Port Dalhousie, and marched through St. Catharines to the breezy field on the top of the mountain where the Tenth Royals and the Thirteenth from Hamilton were already pitching their tents. Here the boys again distinguished themselves by their light-hearted endurance of discomforts that would have well-nigh caused a mutiny amongst regulars. The ground was rough and hard — cattle had evidently roamed freely over it when the soil was moist. One had to select carefully for his couch the precise spot whose physical geography was most nearly complementary to the angularities of the human anatomy. The last duty every evening was a field study of the relations between geology and osteology. When it rained, the clay betrayed a most tenacious attachment to boots often ill-suited to such rough usage. The camp arrangements were of the most imperfect character. Plain rations, however, were abundant. One of our number betrayed extraordinary talents in the culinary line, and no “Irish” or “Boston ” stew can ever obliterate the memory of his achievements. No coffee and butterless bread ever tasted sweeter than that partaken around our tent pole every morning. The air was pure and bracing, and the drill just enough to make us forget all our discomforts in dreamless sleep. Every one heard with regret the orders to break up camp. To this day pleasant memories linger around the old camp ground. As illustrating the spirit of the boys, I may mention that it leaked out one evening that a general alarm was to be sounded during the night in order to test the promptitude with which the volunteers could respond. We determined that, for the honour of our corps, we should be the first on parade. Not one removed his uniform that night when he lay down. The covering sergeant slept in his boots and cross-belt, with his rifle by his side. To our great astonishment and chagrin the sun was shining brightly when the bugles awoke us at reveille.

The home march was not uneventful. As we left the camp, and when we marched through the streets of St Catharines, fair faces smiled from sidewalk and windows, and the battalion sang popular songs, accompanied by the band. We had scarcely left the town behind us when a thunder-storm came on. The “Queen’s Own” had proved its ability to “stand fire,” but water was another affair and retreat was no cowardice. We quickly found refuge under the grand stand of the race course. On a break occurring in the storm we set out again and arrived betimes at Port Dalhousie, where the “City” awaited us, but alas quantum mutati ab illis[2] who one short hour before spread their plumes and tuned their manly throats before the admiring civilians of the *’ City of the Saints!” Scarcely had we left the friendly shelter of the race course when the storm burst out afresh. The mire of the road was ankle deep and the ditches were brimful of water. Some took to the fields and others picked a careful but tedious path along the fences, while the bolder tramped along as much indifferent to pouring rain and adhesive mud as plucky College boys ought to be. No company in the battalion straggled less than the beardless youths in No. 10. When we arrived at Toronto, our sergeant was the first to spring ashore in response to the bugle call for “coverers,” and none marched up Yonge Street with jauntier step than the rain-soaked and mud-bespattered veterans of the rear company.

On the 26th June, 1868, Lieut. George D. Dawson, late of H. M. 47th Regiment, and now Col. Dawson, of the “Grenadiers” was gazetted Captain, vice F. C. Draper, who retired with the rank of Brevet Major. The Company re-enlisted under the Militia Act of 1868, but its name does not appear in the General Order of 6th February, 1869, in which the corps who constitute the active militia are named. It seems to have been silently dropped, along with others, which it was not judged advisable to continue in existence. The College Rifles never formed an integral part of the “Queen’s Own” but was merely attached to the battalion for administrative purposes. During its brief existence it left a record of which it need not be ashamed, one worthy of an institution which has supplied so many able officers to the various branches of the Imperial service. General Napier did not forget to give us honourable mention in his report.

[1] Thomas Francis Fotheringham attended Upper Canada College from 1863 to 1867.

[2]changed much from them

QOR and Upper Canada College: 150th Anniversary of Affiliation

Major Francis Collier Draper
Major Francis Collier Draper

On 12 January 1866 No 11 Company “Upper Canada College” of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada (QOR) was formed under the command of Captain Frank C. Draper.

Draper seems like an excellent choice to fill this role as he was both a UCC Old Boy (1844-52) and had been a QOR officer since 1863. In 1874 he would resign his commission and become Toronto’s Chief Constable (i.e. Police Chief).

Creation of Upper Canada College Company of the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada (Gazette)
Creation of Upper Canada College Company of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada (Gazette)

The following article is excerpted from “COLBORNE’S LEGACY: Upper Canada College 1829-1979″ by Richard B. Howard

“It is Difficult to Establish a Date on which the College Rifle  Company, alias the Rifle Corps, later the Cadet Battalion, held its first official parade…..

The first hint of any military enthusiasm at UCC is mentioned earlier, when during the 1837 Rebellion, a troop of boys offered their services to the Lieutenant-Governor. …..

Early in Principal Cockburn’s regime, military drill was the subject of much attention in schools in England, Canada, and the United States. Ways were sought to promote what was thought of as a patriotic  spirit. The aim was to foster love of country along with a disposition to defend it, and to develop obedience and discipline. The important habit of prompt obedience could then be carried over into the classroom. By 1865 drill had been introduced into schools in many Ontario centres, including Toronto, London, and Port Hope. The College was probably one of the earliest participants; it is known that in 1863 the older boys paraded weekly under a Major [Henry] Goodwin, a strict disciplinarian but “kind-hearted” and “cheery.”

In 1865 Fenian troubles were creating much unease in Canada, and several Upper Canada College students asked Principal Cockburn’s permission to transform the recently formed cadets into a company of the Queen’s Own Rifles.

In December of that year an unknown number of pupils were enrolled, and in January 1866 the company was attached to the 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Rifles.

Thus , Upper Canada College was possibly the second Canadian school to have an “official” cadet corps, following Bishop’s College School in Lennoxville, Quebec, whose corps was organized in 1861.

The Queen’s Own were called out on March 8, 1866 , and though the College boys were not specifically mentioned, they appeared at every parade and march anyway (they even had their own marching song).

On St. Patrick’s Day the company waited for any trouble arising
out of the parade, but nothing happened . When the Fenians actually struck at Fort Erie on June 1 , the Queen’s Own were ordered out to meet them.  School was dismissed for the day and the College company reported for duty only to find that, by orders of General Napier, they must “…. remain in garrison to guard the armouries and official stores. Some students wanted to “desert” to join the battalion at the front, but evidently no one did.

“They performed the duty which was given them. ” After the raid there were plenty of volunteers in Toronto, and so the College company was released; but, just in case, it was “agreed that should the College bell ring at any time out of class hours, the members of the Company would . . . assemble at the Armoury.” The bell did, in fact, ring once, and the College boys were the first to report to the armoury, but it was a false alarm. A dense crowd gave them three cheers.

It has been thought that the Upper Canada College Rifle Company received “battle honours” for its passive though honourable role in the Raid. Not so. The Queen’s Own Rifles did not receive such honour; neither did the College. However, General Napier did give them honourable mention in his report, and it is true that they were called out for service (along with Bishop’s College School) — apparently the only time in Canadian military history this has happened.

Over thirty years later, the government decided to present medals to those who were engaged on active service in the Fenian Raid: the College Rifle Company, though denied the privilege of fighting, had performed some important functions, and all the members of the company still living received a medal.”

As of October 22, 1886, the Rifle Company officially became a Cadet Corps (#17) affiliated with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. During the First World War, the Cadets’ association with the Queen’s Own had lapsed, and by 1923 two regiments, the Toronto Regiment (now the Royal Regiment of Canada) and QOR were requesting that the Corps affiliate itself with them. After some dispute between the three parties, the College settled on the Queen’s Own again by 1927.

In 1976 the compulsory “Battalion” was disbanded to be replaced the following year by a voluntary Cadet Corps. This lasted until 1988 when it was officially disbanded as of April 15th.

Over most of these 144 years, the connection between UCC and the QOR remained very strong. Many Old Boys went on to serve with the QOR – some even becoming Commanding Officer. Even today, the Regiment values this long and distinguished relationship between one of Canada’s oldest continuously operating schools and Canada’s longest continuously serving infantry regiment.

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