The Minute Book
Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Wolseley Barracks Will Not Be Closed (1913)
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

Wolseley Barracks Will Not Be Closed, Says Department

Story Sent Out From Toronto is Characterized As a Canard — It Was To the Effect That Toronto Will in Future Have Corps Now Stationed at London and Kingston

The London Evening Free Press; London, Ontario, 31 July, 1913
Special to the Free Press

Barracks Remain But Men Might Be Moved

The Free Press, London, Ont., Friday, 1 August 1913

No word has been received at divisional headquarters regarding the report that the permanent force will be removed from Wolseley barracks to Toronto. There is a persistent rumor that the men will be removed on the completion of the new barracks, but no official confirmation can be obtained. Col. Hodgins stated today that he had heard absolutely nothing on the matter, either officially or unofficially.

"It may or may not be true." he said. "I absolutely know nothing about it. The making of Toronto as a center would no doubt reduce the cost of maintenance as there would be one big mess instead of two. The matter is entirely in the hands of the department at Ottawa and I have never had an inkling that a change was contemplated. As far as I am concerned, it may or may not be true."

Ottawa, Ont., July 31.—At the militia department to-day the report that the Wolseley Barracks are to be closed was characterized as wholly unfounded.

According to the story, Wolseley Barracks, which for 25 years has been the home of a permanent military corps in London, was to pass out of existence and the corps removed from the city.

The militia department was said to be planning to move the permanent force from London and Kingston to locate it at Toronto in the interests of economy and efficiency.

A new barracks was to be erected at Long Branch, near Toronto, which would accommodate 1,200 officers and men, the contact for which will be let in a few days. Work on the new barracks was to commence in September, and the cost would be considerably over $1,000,000.

Opening of the Barracks

The rumor recalls to mind many interesting events in connection with the military life of the city of days gone by. The present barracks were first opened in 1888, the order for the erection of the building being issued two years previous, and No. 1 Company, Royal Canadian Infantry was the first to occupy the post. Colonel henry Smith was the first commandant and remained until 1898, being succeeded by Colonel Holmes.

Two million bricks were used in the construction of the building, and they were manufactured within a short distance of the structure.

The present site of Victoria Park was at one time the headquarters of the permanent force, but came into the city's possession by providing the department with the site for Wolseley Barracks, though London had for years previous to this used the old barracks grounds for park purposes. In 1888 R. pritchard and A.B. Powell with Mayor Cowan were appointed trustees for the administration of the lands, and when they relinquished their trust in 1894 their accounts showed that the city had been a considerable gainer by the transaction.

Built by Ex-Ald. Hook

Ex-Ald. Joseph Hook, a well-known contractor of years ago, built the barracks, the cost of which was considerably more than the tender submitted. He lost a considerable sum of money on the contract.

The strength of the regiments stationed at the barracks varied at different times, there being from 25 to 130 men located here.

Up To Strength Now

At the present time the corps is up to the strength required by the department, and consists of between 60 and 70 men. Of late years the barracks has supplied Halifax and other points, which have a permanent force, with trained men. This has caused the number here to be reduced materially.

On account of the permanent force being located here, the city has long been looked upon as a military center, and the high efficiency of the volunteer corps of this city is in a large measure responsible for having trained men here at all times. The officers of the permanent corps are in the same position as the school teachers to the pupils. They are trained to a high efficiency and disseminate their knowledge of the volunteers.

Once Flourished

The citizens have enjoyed the entertainment furnished by the officers and men of Wolseley barracks, which at one time, when it was known as "D" school, had a first-class band, which furnished concerts twice weekly at Victoria Park. The removal of the barracks will not mean that divisional headquarters, with its staff of officers, will go to Toronto. The work of the divisional officers extends over all of Western Ontario, and the permanent corps here is only one small part of the unit under its control and supervision.

Since the advent of Colonel Hodgins as commander of the district there has been a remarkable growth of militarism. The fact that it was possible to organize an army service corps and corps of engineers here is evidence of the efficient work being done.

"I have not heard a word regarding the removal," said Colonel Hodgins to-day. "I notice a dispatch in the papers to that effect. It would make no difference to divisional headquarters."

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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