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Remembrance Day



Ontario, as well as many other places in Canada, have a rich military history.  The sites of many battles, particularly during the War of 1812, have fortunately been preserved by various levels of government and many of them marked with historical plaques.  In addition, many men and women who have shaped Canada's military heritage have been born here, or lived here.  Often, blue plaques are erected by the Government of Ontario, and red plaques are erected by the Government of Canada.  Many local municipalities also mark sites of historical signifigance, and I have attempted to visit and photograph as many of these important monuments as I can.

I have commenced this page with the Victoria Cross winners from Canada.  First awarded by Queen Victoria during the Crimean War, and forged from brass from captured Russian cannons, the Victoria Cross is the highest decoration in the British Commonwealth.  It is awarded for courage above and beyond the call of duty and, despite the large number of Canadians who have won the award, there are currently no living Canadian VC recipients.  Since its inception in 1856, only 1,356 Victoria Crosses have been awarded, and 94 of these were won by Canadians or those with a close connection to Canada.  The last Canadian winner of the Victoria Cross was Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray, of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, in 1945. Following the VC winners, the rest of the historical plaques are listed in alphabetical order.

Victoria Cross Recipients

Photo by J. Gray

Canada's First Victoria Cross

Located in a park in downtown Toronto, this plaque, erected by the government of Ontario, honours Lieutenant Alexander Dunn, a Canadian serving in the British Army during the Crimean War, who participated in the Charge of the Light Brigade.  Lieutenant Dunn would be the first Canadian soldier awarded the Victoria Cross.  The plaque reads:

Born in 1833, a short distance north of this site, Alexander Dunn was educated at Upper Canada College and at Harrow, England.  In 1853, he was commissioned Lieutenant in the 11th Hussars.  A participant in the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava on October 25, 1854, he saved the lives of two of his regiment by cutting down their Russian attackers, and thus became Canada's first winner of the Victoria Cross.  In 1858, Dunn helped to raise the 100th Royal Canadian Regiment, which he later commanded.  In 1864 he transferred to the 33rd (Duke of Wellington's) Regiment and four years later was accidentally killed while hunting in Abyssinia.

Photo by J. Gray

Captain Frederick W. Campbell, VC

Located in front of the Royal Canadian Legion hall, on King Street, in Mount Forest, Ontario, this plaque is dedicated to Capt. Frederick Campbell, 1867- 1915.  The text reads:

Born in Oxford County, and raised near Mount Forest, Campbell saw active service in the South African War. He went overseas in 1914 with the first Canadian contingent and was posted to the 1st Battalion, C.E.F.  In June, 1915, his unit was engaged in the Givenchy area of France.  During an attack on the German trenches, Campbell held an exposed position under heavy fire despite the loss of most of his detachment.  He then advanced and suceeded in holding back a strong counter attack. Shot by a sniper, Campbell died of his wounds. For his gallant conduct he was posthumously awarded the British Empire's highest decoration for valour, the Victoria Cross.

Photo by J. Gray

William Avery Bishop, VC

Located in a park at 1st Avenue West and 8th Street East, Owen Sound, Ontario, this plaque is dedicated to William Avery "Billy" Bishop, 1894-1956. The text reads:

Born in Owen Sound, Billy Bishop was attending the Royal Military College when war was declared in 1914. He first joined a cavalry unit, but in 1915 transferred to the Royal Flying Corps.  Courage and marksmanship made him on of the war's greatest fighting pilots, credited officially with the destruction of 72 enemy aircraft.  When hostilities ended, he was the youngest lieutenant-colonel of the air force, and had won the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Order, and the Military Cross.  During World War II he became a director of recruiting for the R.C.A.F. with the rank of air marshal.

Photo by J. Gray

Private Harry Brown, VC

Located at the library in Omemee, Ontario, this plaque is dedicated to Pvt. Harry Brown,  10th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1898-1915.  The text reads:

For most conspicuous bravery, courage and devotion to duty.  After the capture of a position, the enemy massed in force and counter attacked.  The situation became very critical, all wires being cut.  It was of the utmost importance to get word back to Headquarters.  This soldier and one other were given the message with orders to deliver the same at all costs.  The other messenger was killed.  Private Brown had his arm shattered, but continued on through an intense barrage until he arrived at the close support lines and found an officer.  He was so spent that he fell down the dug-out steps, but retained conciousness long enough to hand over his message, saying 'important message'.  He then became unconcious and died in the dressing station a few hours later.  His devotion to duty was of the highest possible degree imaginable, and his successful delivery of the message undoubtedly saved the loss of the position for the time, and prevented many casualties.

Photo by J. Gray

David Vivian Currie, VC

Located in a park at 1st Avenue West and 8th Street East, Owen Sound, Ontario, this plaque is dedicated to David Currie, 1912-1986.  The text reads:

A much honoured World War II army officer, Currie, who is buried in Owen Sound, was born and raised in Saskatchewan.  He enlisted in 1940 and was sent overseas with the 29th Canadian Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (The South Alberta Regiment) three years later.  On August 18, 1944, Currie leading a small force in Normandy, was ordered to help seal the Chambois-Trun escape route to the German forces cut off in the Falaise Pocket.  He met fierce resistance in the village of St. Lambert-sur-Dives.  There, by skillful command and heroic example, Currie sustained his men for three days as they repeatedly thwarted breakout attempts by masses of Germans.  For his actions, he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the British Commonwealth's highest decoration for valour.

Photo by J. Gray

Sergeant Aubrey Cosens, V.C.

Located in a small park beside a highway bridge named in his honour in Latchford, Ontario, this plaque is dedicated to Sgt. Aubrey Cosens.  The text reads:

Born in Latchford and raised near Porquis Junction, Cosens enlisted in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, Canadian Active Service Force, 1940 and transferred to the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada in 1944. Early on February 26, 1945, his unit attacked enemy forces at Mooshot, Germany, a strategic position vital to the success of future operations.  His platoon suffered heavy casualties and Cosens assumed command. Supported by a tank, he led another attack against three enemy strongpoints, which he captured single-handed.  He later was killed by a sniper. For his "outstanding gallantry, initiative, and determined leadership", he was posthumously awarded the Commonwealth's highest declaration for valour, the Victoria Cross.

Photo by J. Gray

Lance Corporal Fred Fisher, V.C., 1894- 1915

Located in downtown St. Catharines, Ontario, this plaque, erected by the Province of Ontario, is dedicated to Victoria Cross recipient L/Cpl Fred Fisher.  The text reads:

Born in St. Catharines, Fred Fisher abandoned his studies at McGill University when World War I broke out, and served with the 13th Battalion, First Division, Canadian Expeditionary Force.  Fisher was awarded the Victoria Cross for his exceptional courage in action near St. Julien, Belgium, on April 23, 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres. Under heavy fire, he led a machine-gun detachment covering the withdrawl of an artillery battery. Though his crew fell to enemy attack, Fisher held their position. He then returned to the garrison for more men and advanced again to the firing line. Killed in action the next day, Fisher has no known grave.

Photo by J. Gray

Sergeant Frederick Hobson, VC

Located at the McIntosh Armoury in Cambridge, Ontario, this plaque is dedicated to Sergeant Frederick Hobson, 1873-1917. The text reads:

An Englishman, Frederick Hobson emigrated to Canada in 1904 after serving in the South African War. Eight years later, he moved to Galt (now Cambridge) with his family.  When war broke out in 1914, he joined the Norfolk Rifles, then enlisted with the 20th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.  He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his heroic action at Hill 70, near Lens, France, on August 18, 1917.  During an intense German counter attack Hobson rushed from  his trench, reactivated a buried Lewis machine gun and engaged the advancing enemy single handed.  When the gun jammed, the wounded Hobson fought with bayonet and rifle until he was shot.  In the time gained, reinforcements approached to drive the enemy back.

Photo by J. Gray

Thomas William Holmes, VC

Located at a park at 1st Avenue West and 8th Street East, in Owen Sound, Ontario, this plaque is dedicated to Thomas Holmes, 1898- 1950.  The text reads:

Born in Montreal, Holmes moved with his family to Owen Sound in 1903.  he enlisted in the 147th Infantry Battalion, C.E.F., in 1915, but later transferred to the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles.  In October, 1917, his unit took part in the violent opening assault on the German position at Passchendaele.  During this action, Private Holmes, under heavy enemy fire, captured single-handed an important pillbox strongpoint, which had been holding up the right flank of the Canadian advance.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his valour in this battle.

Photo by J. Gray

Lieutenant S. Lewis Honey, VC DCM MM

Located in front of the Royal Canadian Legion hall, on King Street, in Mount Forest, Ontario, this plaque is dedicated to Lt. Lewis Honey, 1894- 1918.  The text reads:

Born at Conn, Honey enlisted in January, 1915 with the 34th Battalion, C.E.F. and served in France with the 78th Battalion.  During a Canadian attack in September, 1918, in the Bourlon Wood area, he reorganized his unit under severe fire, and rushed a machine gun post single-handed, capturing the guns and ten prisoners.  Later he repelled four enemy counter-attacks and led a party which took another post and three guns. On September 29, he led his company against a strong enemy position and was mortally wounded on the last day of the attack.  For his conspicuous bravery, Lieutenant Honey was posthumously awarded the British Empire's highest decoration for military valour, the Victoria Cross.

Photo by J. Gray

Flight Lieutenant David Ernest Hornell, V.C.

Located on the grounds of the school named in his honour, on Victoria Street in the west end Toronto village of Mimico, this plaque is dedicated to Royal Canadian Air Force pilot David Hornell, 1910-1944.  The text reads:

Born in Toronto, and educated in Mimico, Hornell enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force on January 8, 1941. He was commissioned Pilot Officer later that year.  On June 24, 1944, while serving with 162 Squadron and stationed at Wick in northern Scotland, Hornell was on anti-submarine patrol in a twin engined Canso when he and his eight man crew sighted and attacked a German submarine.  Heavy enemy fire quickly crippled the aircraft but Hornell persevered with skill and determination until the submarine had been destroyed.  For his bravery during this action and the subsequent ordeal after abandoning the aircraft, Hornell was awarded the Victoria Cross, the British Commonwealth's highest award for valour.  He died soon after being rescued.

Photo by J. Gray

Captain George Fraser Kerr, VC, MC and Bar, MM

Located at the McIntosh Armouries in Cambridge, Ontario, this plaque, erected by the City of Cambridge and the Highland Fusiliers of Canada, honours Capt. George Kerr, 1894-1929.  The text reads:

Born at Deseronto (Ontario) on June 8, 1894, he attended Galt Collegiate from 1908 to 1913 and joined the 3rd Battalion, C.E.F., in 1914, going to France in 1915.  As a corporal, he won the Military Medal at Mont Sorrel in June, 1916.  Recovering from his wounds in England, he was appointed a Lieutenant and returned to his unit in July, 1917.  He won the Military Cross at Amiens in August, 1918, and a second MC at Bourlon Wood when he rushed a stronghold and single-handed captured four machine guns and 31 prisoners.  In Canada, he continued with militia service and a business career in Toronto, where he died on December 8, 1929 and was buried with full military honours in Mount Pleasant cemetery.

Photo by J. Gray

Colonel Graham Thomson Lyall, V.C., 1892-1941

Located on the south side of the Lake Street Armoury, in St. Catharines, Ontario, this plaque is dedicated to Col. Graham Thomson Lyall, 1892-1941. The text reads:

Graham Thomson Lyall emigrated from Britain in 1911, eventually settling in Niagara Falls where he worked for the Canadian Niagara Power Company.  In 1914, at the start of the First World War, Lyall enlisted in the 19th "Lincoln" Regiment at St. Catharines.  Later, he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and fought at the Somme in 1916, Arras and Ypres in 1917, and Amiens in 1918. On September 27 and October 1, 1918, Lyall led his platoon against the enemy at Bourlon Wood and Blecourt, displaying exceptional valour and leadership, inflicting heavy casualties , and capturing 182 prisoners, 26 machine-guns, and one field gun. "For most conspicuous and skilful leading during the operations north of Cambrai" King George V presented Lyall with the Victoria Cross, the British Empire's highest decoration for valour.

Photo by J. Gray

George Richardson, VC

Located in the village park, in Vankoughnet, Ontario, this plaque is dedicated to Private George Richardson, 1831-1923.  The text reads:

Private Richardson won the Victoria Cross while fighting with the Border Regiment of the British Army in Northern India during the Indian Mutiny of 1857-59.  As part of a detachment sent to dislodge rebels in the hills of the Kewarie Trans-Gogra district on April 27, 1859, he displayed "determined courage in having, though severely wounded... closed with and secured a rebel Sepoy (Indian soldier) armed with a broad revolver". An Irishman by birth, Richardson came to Canada in the early 1860s. During the 1880s and 1890s, he lived on a farm one kilometer southwest of here. He held numerous township offices, including Reeve of Oakley Township (1895-96).

Photo by J. Gray

Corporal Frederick George Topham, VC

Located at the Etobicoke Municipal Building, this plaque is dedicated to Corporal Frederick Topham, 1917-1974. The text reads:

Born in Toronto, Topham was educated here before working in the mines at Kirkland Lake.  He enlisted on August 3, 1942, and served at home and abroad as a medical orderly.  On March 24, 1945, while serving with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, he defied heavy enemy fire to treat casualties sustained in a parachute drop east of the Rhine, near Wesel.  Rejecting treatment for his own severe face wound, he continued to rescue the injured for six hours.  While returning to his company, he saved three occupants of a burning carrier, which was in danger of exploding. For these exceptional deeds, Topham was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for valour in the British Commonwealth.

Historical Plaques of Ontario

Major Andrew McKeever, Listowel, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Andrew Edward McKeever, 1895-1919

A World War I flying 'ace', McKeever was born and raised in Elma Township.  He enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1916, but attracted by the life of the fighter pilot, transferred to Britain's Royal Flying Corps once he was overseas.  From May 1917 to January 1918, McKeever was posted to the 11th Squadron on the Western Front.  An outstanding operator of the two-seater Bristol fighter, he, with his various observers or gunners, shot down some 30 enemy aircraft during reconnaissance missions and offensive patrols, earning the Military Cross and Bar and the Distinguished Service Order for his "conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty".  At the end of the war, McKeever returned home where, shortly afterward, he died as the result of a car accident.

Aurora Armoury, Aurora, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

The Aurora Armoury,
Photo by J. Gray

Aurora Armoury

Built in 1874 as a drill shed for the 12th Battalion of Infantry, or York Rangers, the Aurora Armoury was part of a network of defence training facilities for citizen soldiers.  It evokes the larger stories and traditions of the province's militia regiments, recruited regionally, and possessing close affiliations with their communities of origin.  The armoury was also the site of Edward Blake's famous "Aurora Speech" of 1874, in which the prominent politician and former Ontario premier called upon the federal government of Liberal Prime Minister Alexander MacKenzie to implement nationalistic and electoral reforms.  The speech exemplifies how drill halls and armouries fulfil civic roles in the lives of their communities.  The oldest purpose-built armoury still used by the military in Ontario, the Aurora drill shed is home to elements of the Queen's York Rangers(1st American Regiment) (RCAC).

The Battle of Chippawa, Chippawa, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Battle of Chippawa

Here, on 5 July 1814, an American army under Major-General Jacob Brown launched the last major invasion of Canada during the War of 1812.  The Americans defeated a British and Canadian force commanded by Major-General Phineas Riall consisting of regulars, militia and Aboriginal warriors.  During the engagement, about 200 men were killed and over 500 wounded.  After four months of heavy fighting, with major action at Lundy's Lane, Fort Erie, and Cook's Mills, the invaders were forced back to the United States.

Battle of Crysler's Farm, Morrisburg, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Battle of Crysler's Farm, 1813

In November, 1813, an American army of some 8000 men, commanded by Major-General James Wilkinson, moved down the St Lawrence en route to Montreal.  Wilkinson was followed and harassed by a British "corps of observation", consisting of about 800 regulars, militia, and Indians commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Morrison.  On November 11, Morrison's force, established in a defensive position on John Crysler's farm, was attacked by a contingent of the American army numbering about 4000 men commanded by Brigadier-General J.P. Boyd. The hard fought engagement ended with the Americans' withdrawl from the battlefield.  This reverse, combined with the defeat of another invading army at Chateauguay on October 26, saved Canada from conquest in 1813.

The Battle of Lundy's Lane, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Battle of Lundy's Lane

This was the site of the bloodies battle of the War of 1812.  On the afternoon of 25th July, 1814, Lieutenant-General Gordon Drummond with about 2800 men engaged the invading American army which had recently been victorious at Chippawa.  The armies were evenly matched and the six-hour battle lasted until darkness and heavy heavy losses put an end to the fighting. Each force had lost over 800 men.  Although each claimed victory, the Americans had failed to dislodge Drummond from his position.  They withdrew the next day, ending their offensive in Upper Canada.

The Battle of Malcolm's Mills, Oakland, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Battle of Malcolm's Mills, 1814

In October, 1814, an invading American force of  about 700 men under Brigadier-General Duncan McArthur advanced rapidly up the Thames Valley.  He intended to devastate the Grand River settlements and the region around the head of Lake Ontario, which supplied British forces on the Niagara frontier.  McArthur reached the Grand, and after an un-successful attempt to force a crossing, attacked a body of some 150 militia here at Malcolm's Mills (Oakland) on November 6th. Canadian forces comprising elements of the 1st and 2nd Norfolk, 1st Oxford and 1st Middlesex regiments put up a spirited resistance but where overwhelmed.

The Battle of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario
photo by J. Gray

Battle of Windsor, 1838

Early on December 4th, 1838, a force of about 140 American and Canadian supporters of William Lyon MacKenzie crossed the river from Detroit and landed about one mile east of here.  After capturing and burning a nearby militia barracks, they took possession of Windsor.  In this vicinity they were met and routed by a force of some 130 militiamen commanded by Colonel John Prince.  Five of the invaders taken prisoner were executed summarily by order of Colonel Prince.  This action caused violent controversy in both Canada and the United States.  The remaining captives were tried and sentenced at London, Upper Canada.  Six were executed, eighteen transported to a penal colony in Tasmania, and sixteen deported.

The Battle of York, Toronto, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Battle of York, 1813

Loyal residents of York (Toronto) were encouraged by early British victories in the War of 1812, but in 1813 they experienced first hand the hardships of war.  On the morning of April 27, an American fleet appeared offshore and began to send 1,700 soldiers ashore two kilometers west of here.  At first only a small force of Ojibwa warriors was in position to resist the landing. After fierce skirmishing the invaders advanced, overcoming defensive stands by outnumbered British and Canadian troops.  As they closed in on the main garrison near here, the retreating British ignited a gunpowder storehouse. It exploded, killing 38 Americans and wounding 222 more.  Victorious nonetheless, the Americans occupied York for six days.  They looted and set buildings ablaze, including the Parliament Buildings.

The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, Goderich, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

With the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, one of Canada's major responsibilities was to provide air training facilities removed from the theatre of war.  On December 17, 1939, the Plan was inaugurated.  The first schools were opened the following year, among them No. 12 Elementary Flying Training School here at Sky Harbour.  At the height of operations there were 38 training units in Ontario alone, including 32 air training schools.  Before termination of the Plan on March 31, 1945, these and 70 similar establishments elsewhere in Canada trained over 300,000 aircrew, ground crew and air women, mostly from Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand but including American volunteers and escapees from Nazi-occupied Europe.

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, Oshawa, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan,
No. 20 Elementary Flying Training School - Oshawa

A tribute to Canada's civil engineers who, between 1940 and 1943, were responsible for the design and construction of 88 airfields and 88 relief fields, together with all the requisite infrastructure.  The airfields were required by The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan which trained more than 250,000 personnel, of whom 131,000 were aircrew, for the Allied war effort.  This field, Oshawa Municipal Airport, was the site of No. 20 Elementary Flying School.  Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, 1999.

The British Garrison in London, London, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

British Garrison in London

In one of several concentrations of British troops in Upper Canada various infantry and artillery units were stationed on a military reserve here during the mid-19th Century.  The garrison, which contributed significantly to the economic growth of London, was first established in 1839 to guard against border raids following the rebellion of 1837.  Although its troops were withdrawn in 1853 to serve in the Crimean War and military duties were assumed by pensioners, it was re-occupied by British regulars in 1862 when the American Civil War posed a threat to the province. To help repulse and expected invasion of Fenians, military Irish sympathizers, the garrison remained active until 1868.  Six years later, this part of the old military reserve was set aside as Victoria Park.

Butler's Rangers, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Butler's Rangers

In 1777, John Butler of New York raised a force of rangers who, with their Iroquois allies, raided the frontiers of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey throughout the American Revolutionary War.  From their base at Fort Niagara, they successfully maintained British military power on the frontiers and seriously threatened rebel food supplies.  When Fort Niagara became overcrowded in the autumn of 1778, Butler built near here a group of barracks to house his rangers and their families. Disbanded in June, 1784, they were among the first Loyalists to settle in the Niagara peninsula.

Camp Borden, CFB Borden, Ontario,
Photo by Jason Gray

Camp Borden

Camp Borden was established during the First World War as a major training centre of Canadian Expeditionary Force battalions.  The Camp was officially opened by Sir Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia and Defence, on July 11, 1916, after two months of intensive building.  This military reserve, comprising over twenty square miles, was soon occupied by some 32,000 troops.  Training facilities were expanded in 1917 with the institution of an air training programme under the Royal Flying Corps, Canada, and the construction of the first Canadian military aerodrome, regarded as the finest military aviation camp in North America.  Following the armistace Camp Borden continued as an important army and air force centre and became one of the largest armed forces bases in Canada.

Camp X, Whitby, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Camp X memorial, Whitby, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Camp X, 1941-46

On this site, British security co-ordination operated Special Training School No. 103 and Hydra. S.T.S. 103 trained Allied agents in the techniques of secret warfare for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) Branch of the British Intelligence Service.  Hydra Network communicated vital messages between Canada, the United States and Great Britain.  This commemoration is dedicated to the service of the men and women who took part in these operations.

In Memory of Sir William Stephenson,
"The Man Called Intrepid"
Born at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, January 11, 1896
Died at Paget, Bermuda, January 31, 1989
Director of British Security Co-ordination

Campbell's Raid, Port Dover, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Campbell's Raid 1814

On May 14, 1814, about 800 American regulars and militia under Lieutenant-Colonel John Campbell disembarked nearby at the mouth of the Lynn River.  The following day, meeting no oppositon, they burnt the settlements of Dover and Ryerse's Mills and ravaged the surrounding countryside.  Private dwellings were destroyed and livestock slaughtered.  Campbell claimed that he acted in retaliation for similar raids against Buffalo and other points on the Niagara frontier by troops under British command.  A Court of Inquiry instituted by the United States army subsequently condemned his destruction of private homes.

Canada's First Aerodrome, Mississauga, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Canada's First Aerodrome

In May, 1915, Curtiss Aeroplanes and Motors Ltd. established Canada's first aerodrome and flying school on this site.  The school, and the Curtiss aircraft factory on Strachan Avenue in Toronto were managed by John A.D. McCurdy, Canada's first aviator.  Most of the graduates went to England at their own expense to join the Royal Flying Corps or the Royal Naval Air Service.  When the Flying Corps, Canada, was created in January 1917, its first flying units were based at Long Branch.  Later that year, when Armour Heights and Leaside were prepared for flying Long Branch became the ground training school for the cadet wing of the R.E.C.

Colonel James Givins, Toronto, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Colonel James Givins

This school bears the name of, and is located on land formerly owned by Colonel James Givins, who came to Canada after fighting on the British side during the American Revolution.  In 1791, he was commissioned in the Queen's Rangers and subsequently served as Indian Agent at York from 1797. Appointed Provincial Aide-de-Camp to General Brock during the War of 1812, he was highly commended for the courageous manner in which, in command of a small band of Indians, he resisted American invaders during the attack on York in 1813.  he served as Chief Superintendant of the Indian Department in Upper Canada 1830-1837. He died in March, 1846, at 87 and is buried in St. James Cemetery, Toronto.

The Colored Corps, Queenston, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Colored Corps, 1812- 1815

When the War of 1812 began, people of African descent in the Niagara peninsula feared an American invasion.  They were anxious to preserve their freedom and prove their loyalty to Britain. Many joined the militia, others offered to raise their own militia company.  Authorities responded by forming a "Colored Corps" of about thirty men commanded by white officers.  Based in the Niagara region throughout the war, it fought at Queenston Heights in October, 1812 and at the seige of Fort George in May, 1813.  The corps was disbanded soon after the peace, but had nonetheless set a precedent.  Black units were a feature of the Canadian military until the First World War.

Crimean War cannon, Victoria Park, London, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Crimean War Cannons

These cannon were used at the Seige of Sebastopol and were brought to this country after the capture of that city by the British in 1855.  Sir John Carling was instrumental in procuring these three pieces for this city.  This gun is a British piece.  The other two are Russian.  This tablet was erected by the London and Middlesex Historical Society, 1907.  Restored 1987.

The Destruction of the Caroline, Chippawa, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Destruction of the Caroline, 1837

On the night of December 29-30, 1837 some 60 volunteers acting on orders of Col. Allan Napier and commanded by Capt. Andrew Drew R.N., set out from Chippawa in small boats to capture the American steamer "Caroline".  That vessel, which had been supplying William Lyon MacKenzie's rebel forces on Navy Island, was moored at Fort Schlosser, N.Y.  There she was boarded by Drew's men, her crew killed or driven ashore, and after an un-successful attempt to start the engines, her captors set the ship afire and left her to sink in the Niagara River.  This action almost precipitated war between Britain and the United States.

Elora drill shed plaque,
Photo by J. Gray

Elora drill shed, Elora, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Elora Drill Shed

This handsome stone structure, built in 1865, is a rare surviving example of early drill hall architecture in Canada.  During the 1860s, the American Civil War and the Fenian Raids raised fears for the defence of British North America.  In response, the Canadian militia was strengthened, and many rural communities erected drill halls to train their volunteers.  Notable for its classical proportions, its semi-circular fan light over the door, and oculus in the gable, this is an un-usually well constructed building of its type.

Escape of the Royal George, Bath Township, Ontario,
Photo by Jason Gray

The Royal George, model built by Lt. Joseph Dennis,
Fort Henry Museum, Kingston, Ontario,
Photo by Jason Gray

Escape of the Royal George 1812

Opposite here is the gap between Amherst Island and the eastern tip of Prince Edward County.  On November 9, 1812, the British corvette 'Royal George' (22 guns), commanded by Commodore Hugh Earl(e), was intercepted off False Duck Islands by an American fleet, comprising seven ships under Commodore Isaac Chauncey.  Pursued by the enemy, 'Royal George' escaped through this gap into the Bay of Quinte's North Channel.  The chase resumed in light winds the following day when she arrived safely in Kingston harbour.  Chauncey, intent on capturing the largest British warship then on Lake Ontario, attacked her in the harbour, but after exchanging fire with the 'Royal George' and shore batteries, was forced to withdraw.

Fort Chippawa, Chippawa, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Fort Chippawa, 1791

The fortifications which stood on this site were built in 1791 to protect the southern terminus of the Niagara portage road and serve as a forwarding depot for government supplies.  Known also as Fort Welland, the main structure consisted of a log blockhouse surrounded by a stockade.  During the War of 1812, several bloody engagements were fought in this vicinity, including the bitterly contested Battle of Chippawa, July 5, 1814, and possession of the fort frequently changed hands. A barracks, storehouse, officers quarters, and earthworks were added in 1814-15, but shortly thereafter Fort Chippawa was abandoned and fell into decay.

Fort Mississauga, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Fort Mississauga

This tower and earthwork are all that survive of the barracks, guardroom and cells of Fort Mississauga.  Built between 1814 and 1816 to replace Fort George as the countpoise to the American Fort Niagara immediately opposite.  It was garrisoned until 1826.  Repaired and rearmed following the rebellion of 1837, it continued to be maintained until 1854 in response to border disputes with the United States.  It was manned during the tense years of the American Civil War and the Fenian scare of 1866, but by 1870 it was no longer considered of military value.

Fort Rouille, Toronto, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

Monument and artillery marking the site of the
former Fort Rouille, Toronto, Ontario.
Photo by Jason Gray

Fort Rouille

This last French post built in present day Southern Ontario, Fort Rouille, more commonly known as Fort Toronto, was erected on this site in 1750-51.  It was established by order of the Marquis de la Jonquiere, Governor of New France, to help strenghten French control of the Great Lakes and was located here near an important portage to capture the trade of Indians travelling southeast towards the British fur trading centre at Oswego.  A small frontier post, Fort Rouille was a palisaded fortification with four bastions and five main buildings.  It apparently prospered until hostilities between French and British increased in the mid 1750s.  Following the capitulation of other French posts on Lake Ontario, Fort Rouille was destroyed by its garrison in July, 1759.

Fort York, Toronto, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Fort York

Fort York constituted the primary defensive position in early York (Toronto). The present buildings, erected between 1813 and 1815 to replace those destroyed during the American occupations of York in 1813, are among the oldest in Toronto and are important surviving examples of British military architecture.  At the turn of the 20th Century, the fort was threatened with demolition.  The fight to save it led to one of the first victories of the Canadian heritage movement.  The fort was bought by the city in 1909 and restored between 1932 and 1934 as part of Toronto's centennial celebration.

The Founding of Ajax, Ajax, Ontario
Photo by J. Gray

The Founding of Ajax

In 1941, the Government of Canada established a shell-filling plant operated by Defence Industries Limited on this site.  During its peak of production , over 9,000 people from across the country lived and worked at the operation.  The company town consisted of 600 houses and support facilities, and together with the factory, covered 2,846 acres (1,152 hectares) of land.  The community was named after the British ship HMS Ajax, which, with two others, defeated the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate in 1939.  After the Second World War, Ajax was the site of a temporary campus for a division of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Applied Sciences and Engineering, for thousands of returning veterans, until 1948.  Under the administration of the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the community continued to grow and attract new industries.  Ajax was incorporated as a town in 1954.

The Francois Baby House, Windsor, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

The Francois Baby House, Windsor, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Francois Baby House

This house and adjacent farmland were the property of Francois Baby (1763-1856), first member for Kent in the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada (1792-96), militia officer and Assistant Quartermaster General during the War of 1812.  When the Americans invaded Canada in July, 1812, Brigadier-General William Hull set up his headquarters in Francois Baby's house and camped his troops on the farm.  After Hull's withdrawl, British guns mounted here covered Isaac Brock's advance across the river to capture Detroit on 16 August 1812.

German Field Gun, Port Hope, Ontario,
Photo by Jason Gray

German Field Gun, Port Hope, Ontario,
Photo by Jason Gray

German Field Gun

This 77mm German Field Gun was captured by Canadian soldiers on the Western Front during the Great War, 1914- 1918, and was presented as a memorial to the town of Port Hope in 1919.  During the service of dedication on the 15th day of June, 1925, the Reverend Captain F.W. Anderson spoke of the heroic deeds performed by Canadian soldiers during the various battles in which they were engaged and further stated "Let this gun be placed here as a permanent memorial to the boys who gave their lives to capture it, in order to save their comrades".  The Port Hope Rotary Club undertook the project to restore this gun and it was returned to this location on the 11th day of November, 2000.

Lest we Forget.

The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment,
Picton, Ontario.
Photo by J. Gray

The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment

On 2nd September, 1939, the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment was mobilized for service overseas in the Second World War, leaving from the Picton Armoury near this location.  The regiment arrived in the United Kingdom on New Years Day, 1940, as part of the First Brigade of the First Canadian Division.  These citizen soldiers served with Great Valour in Sicily, Italy, and North West Europe winning more Battle Honours than any other Canadian Regiment.  The names of the fallen are immortalized on the Regimental Memorial at the Belleville Armouries where the regiment now maintains its Headquarters and museum.  This plaque, unveiled on 8th of October, 1989, is dedicated to all those who have served in The Regiment in war and peace, and in memory of those who gave their lives in foreign fields that others might live.

Hull's Landing 1812, Windsor, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Hull's Landing, 1812

On July 12, 1812, Brigadier-General William Hull, Commander of the North Western Army of the United States, landed with about 2000 men near this site.  He issued a proclamation stating that he came to liberate Canada from oppression.  The British garrison at Amherstburg was too weak to oppose the invasion, but later fought several skirmishes at the River Canard.  On July 26, British reinforcements under Colonel Henry Proctor arrived and, on August 7-8, Hull withdrew to Detroit, leaving a small garrison near Sandwich, which retired on August 11 at the approach of Major-General Isaac Brock.

James Keating, Penetanguishene, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

James Keating, 1786- 1849

A sergeant in the Royal Artillery, Irish born James Keating served with distinction during the War of 1812.  His skillful handling of a British field gun forced the Americans to surrender Fort Shelby on the upper Mississippi in July, 1814.  Two months later, his well aimed firing of the same piece routed advancing troops down river at Rock Island Rapids.  For his actions, Keating was promoted lieutenant.  At the war's end, he was appointed fort adjutant at St. Joseph's Island, a position he continued to hold when the garrison was moved here in 1828.  A model soldier and citizen, Keating was a prominent figure in community life at Penetanguishene.

The King's Royal Regiment of New York, Kingston, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

King's Royal Regiment of New York

The largest Loyalist Corps in the Northern Department during the American Revolution, the King's Royal Regiment of New York was raised on June 19, 1776, under the command of Sir John Johnson.  Originally composed of one battalion with ten companies, it was authorized to add a second battalion in 1780.  The regiment, known as the "Royal Yorkers", participated in the bitter war fought on the colonial frontier.  It conducted raids against settlements in New York and was also employed in garrison duty.  When active campaigning ceased in 1783, the regiment assumed various responsibilities, notably the establishment of a base here, in preparation for the settlement of the Loyalists.  It was then fully disbanded, its officers and men settling near New Johnstown (Cornwall) and the Cataraqui townships.

Laura Ingersoll Secord, Queenston, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Laura Ingersoll Secord 1775- 1868

Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Laura Ingersoll came to Upper Canada with her father in 1795 and settled in this area.  About two years later she married James Secord, a United Empire Loyalist, and within seven years they had moved to this site from nearby St. David's.  From here, during the War of 1812, Laura Secord set out on an ardous 19-mile journey to warn the local British commander, Lieutenant James FitzGibbon, of an impending American attack.  The courage, and tenacity displayed on this occassion in June, 1813, places her in the forefront of the province's heroines.  Mrs. Secord's house, a simple frame building, was restored (1971-72) and remains as a memorial to this exceptional act of patriotism.

Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Moodie, Richmond Hill, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Moodie, 1778-1837

On December 4, 1837, Robert Moodie and two companions set out from his house, which stood near here, to warn the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Francis Bond Head, at Toronto, that armed rebels were advancing towards the city.  In an attempt to pass William Lyon MacKenzie's men who were blocking Yonge Street at Montgomery's Tavern (near the present Eglinton Avenue), Moodie was shot and fatally wounded.  A native of Scotland, he had served as an officer of the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars and in Canada during the War of 1812, participating in the battles at Lundy's Lane, Fort Erie, and Sackett's Harbor.  He settled in Richmond Hill in 1835, and is buried at Holy Trinity Church, Thornhill.

Lord Beaverbrook, Woodbridge, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Lord Beaverbrook 1879- 1964

One of the Commonwealth's best known publishers, politicians and philanthropists, William Maxwell Aitken was born in Maple.  The son of the Reverend William Aitken, a Presbyterian minister, he was educated in Newcastle, New Brunswick, to which his family moved in 1880.  After a highly successful career in Canada as a financier he entered the British House of Commons in 1910 as a strong advocate of Imperial Preference and was raised to the peerage in 1917 as Lord Beaverbrook.  He later became the principal British publisher of mass-circulation newspapers.  During the Second World War Lord Beaverbrook was a member of the British War Cabinet and is best remembered as the Minister of Aircraft Production who organized the production of fighter aircraft which won the Battle of Britain.

Major John Richardson, Queenston, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Major John Richardson 1796-1852

This pioneer author, historian and soldier was born in Queenston.  His family moved to Amherstburg about 1802, and at the outbreak of the War of 1812, Richardson joined the British Army.  Retired on half pay in 1818 in London, England, he published the epic poem "Tecumseh"  and the celebrated historical novel "Wacousta" which established his literary reputation.  In 1838 Richardson returned to Upper Canada where he published two weekly newspapers, "The New Era" (1841-42) and "The Canadian Loyalist" (1843-44).  His later works, "Eight Years in Canada" and "The War of 1812" provide invaluable historical information.  In 1848 he moved to New York City where he died in poverty.

McCrae House plaque, Guelph, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

McCrae House, Guelph, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

McCrae House

This limestone cottage was the birthplace of John McCrae, author of In Flanders Fields, the famous poem written in May, 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres.  Built in 1858, the house is a typical mid-nineteenth Century Ontario cottage, with its trellised verandah and cedar shingle roof.  The exterior has been carefully restored to its appearance in the 1870s, when it was the McCrae family home.

McFarland House, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

McFarland House, 1800

This Georgian style house was built in 1800 by John McFarland (1757-1815) and his sons, on land granted by the Crown.  It is one of the oldest surviving structures in the Niagara district.  During the War of 1812 it was used as a hospital by both British and American forces and a British battery, located behind the house, protected the river.  In 1813, John McFarland was taken prisoner by the Americans following their capture of Fort George. When he returned in 1815, much of his property had been destroyed and the house badly damaged.  The home was repaired and remained in the McFarland family for several generations.

Navy Island, Chippawa, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Navy Island

The British used Navy Island from 1761 to 1764 as a shipyard in which to build the first British decked vessels to sail the upper lakes.  These were essential in maintaining the supply lines westward during Pontiac's uprising, 1763-64. Thereafter, the island remained undisturbed until 14 December, 1837, when William Lyon MacKenzie, after being defeated at Toronto, led a "patriot" army from Buffalo to occupy it.  Swift reaction by local militia and British regulars prevented his moving to the mainland and on 14 January, 1838, facing a hopeless situation, he abandoned the island.

Peter Matthews 1789 - 1838, Brougham, Ontario,
Photo by Jason Gray

Peter Matthews c. 1789 - 1838

Peter Matthews farmed the lands immediately northeast of here in the early nineteenth century.  On December 2, 1837, neighbours asked him to lead men from the area to join an uprising against the government in Toronto planned by William Lyon MacKenzie.  Matthews supported democratic reforms, was popular in his community, and had served in the War of 1812.  He agreed to the request and played a leading role in the confused events of the Rebellion of 1837.  When the Rebellion failed, Matthews was captured by government militia.  Authorities decided to make an example of Matthews and another prominent rebel, Samuel Lount.  Convicted of treason and publicly hanged, they became martyrs of the rebellion whose memories would be invoked by reformers for generations to come.

Peterborough Armoury, Peterborough, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Peterborough Armoury

Riding a wave of national pride and military enthusiasm following the South African War (1899-1902), the Canadian government embarked on a major reform of the nation's defence system.  The new programme included an expanded and upgraded militia and the construction of new armouries across the country.  The Peterborough Armoury (1907-1909), recalling a Romanesque fortress in its turrets, arched troop doors and crennellated roof line, is one of the largest and best designed examples from this period.  It is home to the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces (reserve).

The Queen's Rangers, Toronto, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Queen's Rangers

The young province of Upper Canada (Ontario) required troops to defend it and to build public works essential to its development.  The Queens Rangers was the first regiment raised in Britain specifically for service in the colony.  It arrived in 1792, and was stationed in York (Toronto) in 1793.  Over the next three years the regiment constructed government buildings and fortifications.  It also cut important roads through the forest, including Yonge Street north to the Holland River, and Governors Road (Dundas Street) west to London.  In 1794, detachments were posted along the Great Lakes in response to mounting tensions on the frontier with the United States.  When the regiment was disbanded in 1802, many of its men settled on lands in nearby Etobicoke Township.

Raid on Fort Schlosser, Chippawa, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Raid on Fort Schlosser 1813

At daybreak on July 5, 1813, a British and Canadian force, consisting of some 35 militia and a small detachment of the 49th Regiment, embarked in this vicinity to attack Fort Schlosser.  This American depot (now within Niagara Falls, New York) was situated at the southern terminus of the Lewiston Portage, and was an important military trans-shipment point.  The attacking force, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Clark, of the 2nd Regiment Lincoln Militia, surprised the U.S. garrison and encountered little resistance.  They captured a gunboat, two batteaux, a brass cannon, and a substantial quantity of small arms and supplies.  While re-embarking, they were attacked by local American militia, but suffered no casualties.

RCAF No. 6 Service Flying Training School, Dunnville, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

R.C.A.F. No. 6 Service Flying Training School

With the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, one of Canada's major responsibilities was to provide air training facilities far removed from the theatre of war, and so on December 17, 1939, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was inaugurated.  The first of 107 air training schools was opened the following year, among them No. 6 S.F.T.S. on this 400 acre site at Dunnville.  From then until the school officially closed November 25, 1944, this was home for many thousands of airmen and airwomen, and 2,436 pilots from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.A. received their coveted "wings".  During that period, 47  Canadian, Commonwealth, and American airmen paid the supreme sacrifice at No. 6 S.F.T.S. while serving King and Country.

Royal Canadian Air Force Association, Oshawa, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Royal Canadian Air Force Association, 420 Wing

Dedicated to the men and women who served in the Air Forces of Canada, the Commonwealth and Allied Nations; In particular , those who gave their lives in the two Great Wars, subsequent military engagements, and peace keeping operations.  May their sacrifices inspire and strengthen our resolve to perform our daily tasks with diligence, honour and respect.  May Canada be ever worthy of that sacrifice.

Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, CFB Borden, Ontario,
Photo by Jen Gray

Royal Canadian Armoured Corps

Erected by the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Association (Cavalry) to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Canadian Tank School, which commenced operation at Wolseley Barracks, London, Ont., subsequently relocated to Camp Borden, Ont., and currently at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick.  Dedicated to the memory of those who have served in war and peace.  A.D. 1986

Royal Canadian Naval Association, Oshawa, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Royal Canadian Naval Association

Dedicated to the everlasting memory of those stout hearts, our shipmates, men and women of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Navy, United States Navy, and all Allied navies and Merchant Navy, who have not returned and will not be returning from the dark waters.  They pledged their lives in defence of our freedom and counted not the cost.  Somewhere in those unlit depths they lie, a torn steel hull their sepulchre, an ocean floor their abbey.  Lord God of hosts be with us yet.  Lest we forget.  Lest we forget.

Sabre 23047, Oshawa, Ontario,

Sabre 23047, Oshawa, Ontario,
Photos by J. Gray

Sabre 23047

This Canadair Mark V Sabre Jet, painted in the colours of the 416 "City of Oshawa" Squadron, is dedicated, by grateful citizens of Oshawa and district, to all Allied airmen who served their country in the cause of freedom.  I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith. - Paul 4:6 - 8

Second Invasion of York, Toronto, Ontario,
Photo by Jen Gray

Second Invasion of York 1813

On the morning of July 31, 1813, a U.S. invasion fleet appeared off York (Toronto) after having withdrawn from a planned attack on British positions at Burlington Heights.  That afternoon 300 American soldiers came ashore near here.  Their landing was un-opposed: there were no British regulars in town, and York's militia had withdrawn from further combat in return for its freedom during the American invasion three months earlier.  The invaders seized food and military supplies, then re-embarked.  The next day they returned to investigate collaborators reports that valuable stores were concealed up the Don River.  Unsuccessful in their search, the Americans contented themselves with burning military installations on nearby Gibraltar Point before they departed.

Sir John Harvey, Hamilton, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Sir John Harvey 1778-1852

From these heights, Lieutenant-Colonel John Harvey set out with about 700 men on the night of June 5, 1813, to launch a surprise attack on an invading United States force of some 3,000 men camped at Stoney Creek.  His rout of the troops, commanded by Brigadier-General John Chandler under cover of darkness in the early hours of June 6, is generally credited with saving Upper Canada from being overrun by the enemy.  Harvey was knighted in 1824, served as Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick  1834-41, Governor of Newfoundland 1841-46, and Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia 1846-51.

Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe, Queenston, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe, 1763-1851

On October 13,1812, following Isaac Brock's death in a preceding assault, Major-General Sheaffe assumed command and led a successful attack which dislodged an invading American force from Queenston Heights.  Born in Boston, Mass., Sheaffe was commissioned in the British Army in 1778, and fought in the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.  Arriving in Upper Canada in 1812, he served as Administrator of the province, 1812-13, and returned to England in the latter year.  He was created a baronet in 1813, attained the rank of General in 1838, and died in Edinborough, Scotland.

Sir Sam Hughes, Lindsay, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Sir Sam Hughes 1853-1921

Soldier, journalist, imperialist and Member of Parliament for Lindsay from 1892 to 1921, Sam Hughes helped to create a distinctively Canadian army.  As Minister of Militia and Defence (1911-1916) he raised the Canadian Expeditionary Force which fought in World War I, and was knighted for his services.  Disagreements with his colleagues and subordinates forced his retirement from the cabinet in 1916.

Stanley Barracks, Toronto, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Stanley Barracks, Toronto,  Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Stanley Barracks

The British Army established a military post here in 1840-41 to replace aging Fort York.  Known as the New Fort, it consisted of seven limestone buildings around a parade square, and a number of lesser structures.  Massive defensive works were planned for the perimeter but never built.  In 1893, the fort was renamed Stanley Barracks in honour of Governor General Lord Stanley.  Canadian forces assumed responsibility for the post in 1870, and garrisoned it until 1947.  The barracks then served as public housing until the early 1950s, when all but this building, the officers quarters, were demolished.

The Nancy, Wasaga Beach, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

The Nancy

On the opposite bank stood a blockhouse built in August, 1814, by Lieutenenant Miller Worsley, R.N., to protect the NANCY, the only British ship remaining on Lake Huron.  Worsley's small band of sailors and a few Indians gallantly defended their post against three enemy vessels, three companies of infantry, and numerous guns.  The blockhouse was blown up and the NANCY burned to the waterline on 14 August.  Worsley and his men escaped upriver, made their way to Michilimackinac in open boats, evading the American blockade, and afterwards captured the two blockading vessels.

Vrooman's Battery, Queenston, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Vrooman's Battery

Manned by Captain Samuel Hatt's 5th Lincoln (Militia) Regiment and a small party of the Lincoln Militia Artillery under Lieutenant John Ball, and consisting of one 24-pounder cannon mounted with in a crescent shaped earthwork, this battery was engaged in the Battle of Queenston Heights on October 13, 1812.  Commanding the Niagara River, its continuous fire harassed the Americans crossing from Lewiston, providing cover for the British when they were first repulsed from the heights, and supported later attempts to regain them.

Warrior's Day Parade, Toronto, Ontario
Photo by Jason Gray

Warriors' Day Parade

At the end of the First World War (1914-1918), activities took place across Canada to commemorate the country's wartime efforts and to honour the over 60,000 Canadians lost.  One of the most significant and last events was a veterans parade held at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1919.  Edward, Prince of Wales, opened the exhibition and conducted a military review of the thousands of veterans who attended.  In 1921, the annual parade became the highlight of the Exhibition's new Warrior's Day (later Warriors' Day).  The Warriors' Day Parade has marched through the Princes' Gates since 1927, honouring the veterans and the over 100,000 who perished in the Boer War, the Great War, the Second World War, the Korean War, and in peacekeeping missions around the world.

Willow Creek Depot, Springwater Township, Ontario,
Photo by J. Gray

Willow Creek Depot

During the War of 1812, the nine mile portage from Kempenfeldt Bay to Willow Creek formed part of the vital route, via Yonge Street, Lake Simcoe, the Nottawsaga River, and Georgian Bay, which linked Upper Canada with the British posts on the upper Great Lakes.  Here, beside the Minesing Swamp, and one mile from the landing on Willow Creek, were stored hundreds of tons of military supplies and trade goods that maintained the western posts during 1814-15 and the years immediately following.  The depot ultimately included some eight log structures built by the military authorities or fur trading companies, and was surrounded by a palisade measuring roughly 280 by 190 feet.

The Wolseley Expedition, Kenora, Ontario.
Photo by J.
Gray, 2014

The Wolseley Expedition 1870

"In August, 1870, a force of British regulars and Canadian militia comprising some 1,200 men commanded by Colonel Garnet Wolseley, arrived in this area en route to the Red River to establish Canadian authority within the present province of Manitoba.  The previous year the Hudson's Bay Company had agreed to transfer control of its western territories to Canada, and some local inhabitants, fearing loss of their lands and interference with their mode of existence, had set up a provisional government under Louis Riel to press their claims on the Dominion.  The expedition had disembarked at Prince Arthurs Landing on Lake Superior and travelling by land and water reached Fort Garry on August 24."




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