Topic: The RCR Museum
Constructed between 1886 and 1888, Wolseley Hall in London, Ontario, is the first piece of military architecture contracted and completed by the Canadian Government to house a unit of the Permanent Force. Other elements of the growing Permanent Force had taken over quarters previously occupied by British garrisons.
Begun in 1886, after the Militia Department traded the downtown Victoria Park location for the Carling heights property on which the current base sits, the building was first occupied by "D" Company of the Canadian Infantry School Corps in 1888. Wolseley Hall has been in use by the Canadian Army since its construction, and some element of The Royal Canadian Regiment (which began as the Infantry School Corps) has always resided within its walls.
At present, the regimental occupants of Wolseley Hall are the Regiment's Reserve battalion, the 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, and The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum. Remaining space within the building is occupied by the Reserve Armoured Reconnaissance unit, the 1st Hussars, and a variety of other Department of National Defence residents supported by the base.
Wolseley Hall, like so may older edifices, suffers from the fact that for many London residents, it has fallen into the unnoticed background for those who travel past it on Oxford Street. Similarly, The RCR Museum, arguably one of the best military museums in Canada has been missed by many of the Canadians who live in, or within easy reach of, London; perhaps too often postponed until "another time" for a future visit due to its proximity, a future visit that seldom happens.While those who travel on Oxford Street may occasionally notice the building, and even the Museum's sign, it is that smaller group of travelers that pass on Elizabeth Street that see the remarkable architecture of the east face of the building, and the carriageway which leads to the parade square that the building encloses on three sides.
The carriage-way began as the principal entrance to Wolseley Barracks, overtaken by other base perimeter gates as the base expanded over the decades, and new roads were needed to accept vehicles that would no longer pass through the archway, or had need to stop at Wolseley Hall.
Most recently, the archway has been rebuilt and re-purposed. No longer an open passageway to the parade square where generations of soldiers from London and surrounding counties prepared to serve the nation in war and peace, it is now enclosed as the new main entrance to The RCR Museum. Reconstruction of the Museum has significantly increased gallery space, and expanded the bottom floor space, which used to be just that area to the north of the archway, to now include all of the lower floor of the eastern wing of Wolseley Hall.
If you are in London, or passing by, it is worthwhile to take the time to visit this Museum, now to see the extent of changes being wrought, and in future months as new gallery spaces are populated to show Canadian military history through the story of The Royal Canadian Regiment.