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.”
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.
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. “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, and suggests a linkage between sacrifice and redemption.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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). 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 .
Like the original, the QOR cross has a bronzelongsword, 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. 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 represented on the plinth and sub-base.
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.
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.
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,” 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.
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.
A regimental memorial designed by Capt. Eric W. Haldenby 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.
The 48th Highlanders monument stands at the north end, or head, of Queen’s Park and looks up Avenue Road. 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, and the South African (Boer War) Memorial at the Queen Street intersection.
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.
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” (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.
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” 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.
The oaken table was created by Dr. John A. Pearson, 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. 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.”
Barnard, William T. The Queen’s Own Rifles 1860-1960. Don Mills: Ontario Publishing Company Limited, 1960.
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 History5, no. 1, (Spring 1996): 26-34.
 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.
 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, http://www.regimentalrogue.com/battlehonours/bathnrinf/06-qor.htm
 A traditional toast to Fallen Comrades is given at formal military dinners.
 William T. Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles 1860-1960 (Don Mills: Ontario Publishing Company Limited, 1960), 133.
 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 History5, no. 1, (Spring 1996): 30.
 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,” wikipedia.org, accessed June 8, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_A._Pearson
 Hew Strachan, The First World War. (New York: Penguin Books, 2013) 337.
 Farrugia, “A Small Truce,” 63
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A French “invasion” 5 franc note
A new testament
A bundle of pay books
A separate pay book
A letter written to his girlfriend (and eventual wife) just before D-Day
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.
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:
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 email@example.com and make sure you include all the details from your coin as a starting point.