The Minute Book
Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Constructing Wolseley Hall
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

Constructing Wolseley Hall

Wolseley Hall, located in London, Ontario, was the first construction project funded by a Canadian Government in support of the needs of the Dominion's new Permanent Force (now known as the Regular Force). Where all previously existing units of the Permanent Force occupied refitted buildings taken over after the departure of British Army units, the establishment of a new company of the Infantry School Corps in London required new accommodation.

The new infantry barracks was located on Carling Heights, a property acquired from John Carling in a trade with the city for the downtown Victoria Park property that had been the original garrison location. Wolseley Hall was located on the edge of town in 1886, and has since been enveloped by the city's expansion over the past century. The military property was formally titled "Wolseley Barracks" in 1894, after Viscount Lord Wolseley. Originally bounded by Elizabeth, Oxford, and Sterling streets, and by the railway right of way on the south boundary, the property saw a series of building programs over the decades to meet Canada's military needs for the garrison. Retitled Canadian Forces base London and Area Support Unit London, the official Canadian Armed Forces name of the property is again "Wolseley Barracks."

From the Government's Orders-in-Council that can be accessed through the Library and Archives Canada website, we can find the following approval for the original tendering of construction:

Infantry School, London, Ontario – Minister of Public Works recommends accepting tender of Hook and Toll at $76,430 for building (9 April 1886).

On a memorandum dated 9th April 1886, the Minister of Public Works, representing that tenders were invited by public notice for the erection of an Infantry School Building at London, Ont:— the tenders to state separate prices for building the exterior walls of which would be a brick and a half thick according to the plans and specifications, and for one with exterior walls two bricks in thickness with two inch space between—and that in answer to such notice, nineteen tenders have been received, ranging as follows:—

For a building with exterior walls 1 ½ bricks thick, from $73,333 to $133,500 and, for a building with exterior walls 2 bricks thick, from $76,430 to $138,100.

The Minister further represents that the lowest tender in the latter case is that of Messrs Joseph Hook and Peter Toll, of London, who have deposited the required security.

The Minister recommends that authority be granted to accept the tender of Messrs Hook and Toll.

The Committee advise that the requisite authority be granted accordingly."

This memorandum was signed by A. Campbell, and counter-signed with approval by "Lansdowne," The Governor-General, on 13 April, 1886.

But the construction of Wolseley Hall, as with many Government contracts, was not to be completed within the originally allocated budget.

Infantry School London – Minister of Public Works recommends Special Warrant to cover over expenditure (10 January 1887):

"On a memorandum dated 10th January 1887, from the Minister of Public Works representing that Parliament at its last session voted for the fiscal year 1886-87 the sum of $30,000 towards the infantry school in course of erection at London, Ontario, and that the unexpended balance, viz: $16,733.36 of the vote for 1885-86 was carried over for expenditure in 1886-87 and that, thus, the amount rendered available for the present fiscal year, was $46,733.36.

The Minister further represents that the work was proceeded with by the Contractors more expeditiously than was expected, and that a total expenditure of $50,704.35 has been incurred and that over-expenditure has therefore been made to the extent of $3,970.99, or say, $4000.00.

The Minister recommends on the report of his Chief Architect that the further sum of $10,000 is now required to carry on the work, pending a further vote by Parliament, and $4,000 to cover the above mentioned over expenditure, as the necessity is urgent and the Minister of Finance having reported that there is no Parliamentary appropriation from which the same can be defrayed that a Special Warrant of His Excellency the Governor General be issued for the sum of Fourteen thousand dollars ($14,000) a like amount to be placed in the Supplementary estimates to be laid before Parliament at its next session.

The Committee submit the above recommendation for your Excellency's approval."

This request for an advance of further funds to complete Wolseley Hall was signed by Hector-Louis Langevin, and counter-signed for approval by the Governor-General on 12 January 1887.

Wolseley Hall would take a further year to complete construction, opening to house "D" Company of the Infantry School Corps in 1888.

The Infantry School Corps continues to exists today, having evolved to become The Royal Canadian Regiment. Wolseley Hall remains the home of the 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (a unit of the Canadian Army's Reserve Force), the Regimental Museum of The Royal Canadian Regiment, and other Canadian Armed Forces units and elements at Wolseley Barracks.

Wolseley Hall was designated a National Historic Site in 1963.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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