On Gottingen Street in Halifax, Nova Scotia, set into the wall of the main Royal Canadian Navy shore establishment in the city, HMCS Stadacona, is a gate named for Canada's senior infantry regiment. While most Haligonians have probably never noticed the gate, and even for those whose daily commute takes them along that street it has probably faded from notice, even fewer could probably explain the connection between an infantry regiment and a unused gate in the wall of a Navy property.
The Royal Canadian Regiment Gate (The RCR Gate) links the City to its past, when The RCR was the garrison battalion in Halifax from 1905 to 1914. The Regiment's links to Halifax reach back even further, to when a 3rd (Special Service) Battalion was raised in 1900 and served in Halifax until 1902 while the British Army was focusing its efforts in South Africa. But in 1905, the British Army withdrew its last garrison soldiers from Canada, and that led to the expansion of The Royal Canadian Regiment, with a battalion headquarters and six new companies of infantry being formed to man the defences of Halifax.
The Regiment maintained one Company of infantry in the Citadel, but for the bulk of the Regiment's solders in Halifax, their home was Wellington Barracks. Wellington Barracks was located within the bounds of the current HMCS Stadacona property, with the soldiers' barrack building near Gottingen St and the officers' quarters closer to the harbour by a hundred metres or so. And the gate? The RCR Gate on Gottingen Street was the original entrance to Wellington Barracks.
The officers' Quarters was damaged in the Halifax Explosion on 6 December, 1917. The damage to the buildings was such that it took some days for the elements of the Regiment remaining in Halifax to recover the Regimental and King's Colours from the wreckage of the Officers' Mess. This was, no doubt, an important task in addition to aiding and assisting rescue and recovery efforts after the devastating explosion of the Mont-Blanc. The officers' quarters remained unoccupied until 1931 following extensive repair work, while the soldiers barracks was repaired and reoccupied after the 1917 Explosion.
In 1941 , the Wellington Barracks property was transfered to the Navy and HMCS Stadacona was forned from the expansion of the adjoining Navy property. The current sailor's barracks, "A" Block, occupies the orginal location of Wellington Barracks soldiers' barracks, which was known as "A" Mess. In the evolving reconstruction of the Stadacona site, and particularly the need to accommodate increased traffic flow, a new main gate was built further south on Gottingen Street and The RCR Gate became a historical artifact, maintained as a link to the past.
Today, The RCR Gate remains part of HMCS Stadacona, a reminder of when the local garrison included a Canadian Permanent Force (i.e., Regular Force) infantry battalion. The gate can be seen adorned with a regimental banner and cap badge over the gates, and the emblazoned battle honours of the Regiment on the stone Gate posts. The regimental cypher also decorate the two pedestrian doors flanking the main gate.