Topic: Canadian Militia
The Tercentenary Marchpast
The Canadian General Sir William Otter, Desmond Morton, 1974
[Tercentenary celebration of the founding of Quebec take place on the Plains of Abraham.]
By the time Otter reached the plains the early morning mists were being burned off by the sun, the last troops were in place and the stands were packed. Colonel Lessard trotted up to hand over the parade state: 12,422 men, 2,134 horses, 26 guns, with an additional 2,400 sailors and marines from the visiting warships. At 10.00 a.m., the royal party arrived; the bearded Prince in a general's uniform, Lord Roberts in the full dress of a field marshal. Next came the inspection, with Otter leading the party down the long ranks of troops. To his delight he picked out the medical orderlies, standing idly behind the ranks: despite the heat, that meant that few, if any, of his men had collapsed. At the reviewing stand the Prince of Wales dismounted to present Laurier with a cheque for $450,000, the amount so far collected for the battlefield memorial. Now the march-past could begin.
It took an hour and a half for the long line of sailors, marines, gunners, cavalrymen and infantry to pass the reviewing stand. The crowd burst into special applause for the sailors, the little unit of Royal Military College cadets, the Mounted Police and the newest permanent force unit, Lord Strathcona's Horse. Twice Lord Roberts trotted out to lead troops past the Prince of Wales - first the artillery, then Otter's old regiment, the Queen's Own. He was colonel- in-chief of both. Gradually, as the lines passed before him, Otter could relax. There would be no mishap, no humiliating confusion. He could spare a thought for the rural battalions, marvelling at their transformation during his militia years. At the end of the column came the Royal Canadian Regiment. To the Prince, puzzled that regular troops should march in the junior position, Otter explained: "I wanted the tail to be equal to the head."
When the parade had passed, two batteries of permanent force artillery, the newly redesignated Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, formed up at one end of the field. At a command, whips cracked and the two batteries suddenly raced across the field, harness jingling, limbers and guns leaping over the uneven ground. At the far end, the teams twisted and, in a cloud of dust, came hurtling back. The crowd leaped to its feet, shouting itself hoarse with excitement. The review was over. Otter urged his horse forward, riding out to meet his troops. As he moved toward the huge mass of scarlet, rifle green and navy blue, the significance of the parade state figures struck him: he commanded more men than the armies of Wolfe and Montcalm combined.'