The Minute Book
Sunday, 31 January 2016

Synopsis of Militia Act (1873)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Synopsis of Militia Act (1873)

The Victoria Daily Standard, 31 January 1873

  • The Militia consists of all the male inhabitants of Canada from 18 to 60.
    • 1st Class—Unmarried men and widowers without children, from 18 to 30.
    • 2nd Class—Ditto, from 30 to 45.
    • 3rd Class—Married men and widowers without children, from 18-45.
    • 4th Class—All men from 45 to 60.
  • The above is in the order in which they may be called to serve.
  • The Militia is divided into Active and Reserve.
    • The Active consists of Volunteer, Regular and Marine.
      • The Volunteer Militia is composed of Corps raised by voluntary enlistment.
      • The Regular, of men who volunteer for the same, or of men balloted to serve, or of both.
      • The Marine, of seamen, sailors, and persons whose occupation is on any craft navigating Dominion waters.
  • The period of service in the Volunteer Militia is three years.
  • Six month's notice to a Commanding Officer is required before a member can be permitted to retire in time of peace, and any man requiring to leave Canada must return all public clothing and property, and obtain a written discharge from his Commanding Officer. If he leave with any such in his possession he is guilty of embezzlement, and may be prosecuted at any future time.
  • The period of service in the Regular Militia is two years, and thence until relieved.
  • The Reserve consists of all who are not serving in the Active Militia of the time being.
  • A Military District is divided into Regimental Divisions. These into Company Divisions.
  • A Lieutenant-Colonel, and two Majors of Reserve, appointed to each Regimental Division. The senior officer controls the enrolment.
  • A Captain, Lieutenant and Ensign in each Company District make the roll. The Captain is responsible, collects the roll in duplicate, keeps one copy and forwards the other to the Lieut.-Colonel.
  • Enrolment renders all men liable for service.
  • False information, or refusal of information, involves a penalty of $20.00 for each name refused, concealed, or falsely stated.
  • Exemptions from service are Judges, Clergy, Professors in College, Teachers in religious orders, Wardens, keepers, and Guards of Penitentiaries, and Officers, &c., of Lunatic Asylums, persons disabled by bodily infirmities, and the only son of a widow, being her only support.
  • Also, (except in war or insurrection), Half-Pay and Retired Officers, sea-faring men in actual employ, pilots and apprentices during navigation, masters of Public Schools, actually teaching.
  • Further—Quakers, Mennonites and Tunkers and others whose religious doctrines forbid their bearing arms.
  • There is a simple oath of allegiance, sworn before a Justice of the Peace by the Commanding Officer, and by him administered to others.
  • When a Company Division furnishes more men than its quota, it is not again called upon until others have been equalized.
  • Men called upon to serve may be exempt by paying $30 to the Captain of the Company Division, which shall be paid by him to an approved willing substitute.
  • Active Militia Corps are liable to be called out in aid of the Civil Power. They then become special constables; but are to act only as a military body, and by order of their commanding officer, who will obey the lawful instructions of the magistrates.
    • The pay on such occasions is $1.00 per diem. Officers as in H.M. service, with addition of of $2.00 to mounted officers and $1.00 for each horse use by non-commissioned officers and privates.
  • Arms, accoutrements and clothing are supplied to non-commissioned officers and privates, but are not to be worn or carried except on duty.
  • The period of drill is not les than eight or more than sixteen days. The day may consist of three hours actual drill. Pay fifty cents, with seventy-five cents horse allowance.
  • Competent persons may be appointed to instruct and drill, with pay as may be ordered.
  • Officers Commanding Corps may order assembly at other times than the annual drill, of such members of corpse as reside within two miles of place appointed.
  • Her Majesty may, by order, dispense with an resume any drill or training of Active Militia.
  • Military schools are established, and no person shall be appointed an officer of Active Militia, except provisionally, until he has obtained a certificate from a School or a Board of Officers, and no officer, whose rank is provisional only, shall, under any circumstances, command an officer of the same grade, whose rank is substantive.
  • Active Militia on duty are subject to the Queen's Regulations, and articles of war. As are also Cadets of the Schools.
  • Passed Cadets may be ordered into a Camp of Instruction.
  • Her Majesty may sanction Rifle Associations and Drill Associations, but such are not provided with uniforms; also independent companies composed of Professors, Masters and Pupils of Universities, Schools and Public Institutions. Arms and accoutrements in such cases provided.
  • Active Militia Corps are subject to inspections as ordered.
  • Government aid may be granted towards the construction by local authorities of drill sheds and armouries.
  • Officers commanding a District or Corps, may, on emergency, call out the whole or any part of the force under his command until Her majesty's pleasure is known, and all ranks must obey and march wherever directed.
  • Her Majesty may call out Militia at any time on emergency of war, invasion, or insurrection—men, in such cases to serve one year, or longer if necessary.
  • In time of war no man shall be required to serve in the field continuously more than one year, except in emergency, when he may be called on for six months more.
  • Officers' pat on active service the same as in the [Imperial] army.
  • Militia men who, when on active service, absents himself from his corps for seven days, may be tried by court martial as a deserter.
  • Provision is guaranteed for wives and families of men killed, or who die from wounds, or disease contracted on service.
  • Also compensation for permanent disability from injuries or illness, on report of a medical board.
  • Persons lawfully required to furnish conveyance of any kind, for troops on active service, incur a penalty, in case of refusal or neglect, of not more than four hundred dollars.
  • No troops to be quartered or billeted on premises of any religious order of females.
  • Her majesty may convene Courts of Enquiry, and courts martial; but no officer of Her Majesty's regular army on full pay, shall sit on any militia court martial.
  • Certain penalties are enacted for failures in duty on the part of officers or men—such as refusal or neglect to make enrolments, to take oaths, to afford information, etc., and for false personation, neglect of orders to attend drills, etc., allowing arms, etc., to be out of order, or deficient, or disposing of, or removing arms, etc., or refusal or neglect to turn out, or obey orders, or resist a draft, or council, or aid any one to do so,—$100 or six months, or both.
  • Penalties under the Act, recoverable with costs, by summary conviction, on evidence of one witness, before one Justice.
  • Commanding officers' orders sufficiently notified by insertion in one newspaper in a regimental division, or if there be none, by posting a copy on the door of every place of public worship, or of some other public place, in each company division.
  • Gazette notices under the Act have the force of law, and the Governor-in-Council may make regulations, and by such, impose fines not exceeding $20, and imprisonment in default, for carrying the Act into effect.
  • Only one son of the same family residing in the same house, may be be drawn by ballot, unles the number on the roll be insufficient.

elipsis graphic

Editor Standard: In conversation a few days since with a gentleman from the country, it was mentioned that many persons in the district from which he came, appeared to entertain exaggerated ideas on the onerous nature of the duties which might be imposed upon them, by the initiation of militia organization.

As such fears, though very natural, have but little foundation, I have thought that among the many who derive information from your extensive circulation, not a few would probably be glad to know what the provisions of the Militia Act really are. I have, therefore, should you consider it worth a place in your columns, attempted a precis, or synopsis of such parts of the Act as embody the duties and liabilities of the citizen under it.

It may be worthy of mention, in explanation, that the necessity of enrolment need excite no consternation. It is simply a military census, and of itself involves no service in time of peace. The officers of the reserve, whose duty it is to carry it out, have nothing to do with the service required from the active force.

This latter has hitherto been raised by pure volunteering, and in Canada (old) involves in effect, simply sixteen days' drill, of little more than one per cent. of the population. It is possible that the ballot may be resorted to this year, and it is probable that then proportion will be a little heavier on this small population. Still that will not prevent the acceptance of such volunteers as may come forward as part of the quota, which will, in itself, be probably small at first.

It may be borne in mind also that the nature of the drill may be modified by general orders. For instance, the authorities may not insist on its being carried out in camp, or in such manner as to occupy the whole time of the citizen for days together.

It may also be remembered that although the Act insists on the vital principle of every man's liability to serve, if called on, the authorities have always studiously consulted the convenience of the people, and evinced the strongest desire to render the duty of service as little burdensome as is at all compatible with the maintenance of a national force, which is now acknowledged by all who have studied it, to be a splendid success, and the first organization of its kind in the world.

I am, etc.,
January 24th, 1873.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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