The Minute Book
Saturday, 11 June 2016

Canada's Military Contingent (Jubilee 1897)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Canada's Military Contingent (Jubilee 1897)

A Creditable Sample of Our Citizen Soldiers

The Sarnia Observer, 11 June 1897

Her Majesty Queen Victoria

A stamp celebating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

Obverse of the Jubilee medal 1897.

Reverse of the Jubilee medal 1897.
"In Commemoration of the 60th Year of the Reign of Queen Victoria 20 June 1897"

A Victoriam shoulder strap badge worn by The Royal Regiment Canadian Infantry. now The Royal Canadian Regiment.

Quebec, June 7.—To the strains of "The Maple Leaf," sung by the men themselves after the military bands ashore had played "God Save the Queen," and with the enthusiastic cheers of thousands of their admiring fellow-countrymen ringing in their ears, the Canadian militia contingent that is to represent the Dominion in the Jubilee pageant in London, sailed from Quebec on the Vancouver, at half past nine yesterday morning.

The inspection of the contingent Saturday was one of the most interesting military functions which has taken place in Canada for years. It appeared at its very best, and it can safely be said, without the least possible fear of contradiction, that is was the unanimous opinion of every one of the many military men present that Lieut. Colonel Aylmer's contingent of "elegant extracts" from some of the representative corps of the Canadian service will do the Dominion proud in London.

As the men stood there in a line expressions of admiration were outspoken and general. Everyone agreed that the contingent was an immense success, that it looked soldier-like and smart, and would be in every respect a credit to Canada in England. Thanks to the arrangement of the units the disadvantage of the large variety of uniforms appeared to have been turned to advantage. Out of weakness had been created strength. Instead of imparting a crazy-quilt appearance to the contingent the diversity of uniforms really seemed to have increased the soldierly appearance and spectacular effect of the parade.

It was impossible to help admiring the men all through the contingent. Of six footers there are many, while, if there was any man present under five feet nine it was hard even for the eyes of trained soldiers to pick him out. Uniforms all along the line were clean and well fitted, and arms and equipment, of course, in the pink of condition. The arm drill was splendid all through, and the marching fairly steady in all cases considering the height of the grass, of a little lacking in life in some units. The week's training in England before the Jubilee will doubtless remedy any little defects which do exist.

But while admiration was rightly expressed for every detachment, the North West mounted police were the lions of the hour. As they stood in line they formed a military picture which, while fairly rivetting the eye of every soldier present, impressed every beholder. The average of the detachment is nearly six feet, and there is not two inches difference between the heights of the tallest and the shortest man. The eye fails to detect any difference. While practical uniformity in height has been observed in selecting these fine men, so has uniformity in chest, shoulder and limb measurement, and the effect can be well judged. They are all men of a type, and that type the very beau ideal of a soldier. Tall, well proportioned, muscular fellows they are, with clean-cut bronzed faces, and not a surplus ounce of flesh anywhere about them. They drill like machinery, and stand so steady on parade that not a finger moves except by word of command, and apparently not an eye winks. Her Majesty's household cavalry may equal Major Perry's men; they certainly cannot excel them.

Saturday they paraded with carbines in their handsome dragoon uniforms of scarlet, orange trimmed tunics, black breeches, with broad orange stripes, white helmets, brown waist belts, and revolver pouches, and bandoliers frilled with brightly burnished cartridges. The men are anxious to parade in London in their "prairie service uniform," which they consider more distinctive. To give the militia authorities an idea of this uniform, Sergt. Major Bagley turned out in prairie uniform on Saturday, and mounted on a handsome young remount supplied by the Royal Canadian Artillery, horse and man made a handsome picture. The horse wore ordinary police saddlery, including the picturesque and comfortable Oregon saddle with the rider's carbine slung in the regulation way across the "horn" of the pommell. The Sergeant wore the regulation black, orange striped breeches, brown canvas jacket, brown belt and bandolier, brown gauntlets and a large grey leather-trimmed sombrero hat, secured to his head in the orthodox cowboy style by a strap under the back of his poll.

This is the uniform the police wear on their duties on the prairie, and it is at once soldierlike, serviceable and highly picturesque. Each man takes his service uniform home with him besides his scarlet tunic and serge. During the march past Bagley showed what the "riders of the plains" can do on horseback. His young mount became factious, and three dogs attacking her ferociously at once did not improve her temper, and she insisted on not going past the flag. Bagley sat the beast like a statue, sitting solemnly at attention moving not even a muscle of his face, much less his eye or a hand. He did not even use the spur, but by the imperceptible pressure of the knees controlled the animal and guided it past the flag in spite of itself.

The inspection was brief. Lord Aberdeen expressed his gratification and gave the men some goof advice as to their conduct while in England. Before the contingent marched off, Major General Gascoigne stepped to the front, took off his hat, ordered "off head dresses" and three cheers for Her Majesty the Queen, the General leading with hip-hip-hip, the men responding with hurrahs.

All of the contingent are armed with rifles of carbines except the field artillery, who have swords only.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 24 January 2016 7:31 PM EST

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