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Matthew Whitworth-Aylmer, 5th Baron Aylmer; Governor General of Canada, 1830-1835

Type: Image

Matthew Whitworth-Aylmer, 5th Baron Aylmer (1775-1850) is shown wearing the uniform for colonial governors. Governors and governor generals wore army general’s uniforms until 1824 when assigned a special blue and scarlet military-style dress uniform last worn by Governor General Roland Michener in the early 1970s. Aylmer had a distinguished military record during the Napoleonic Wars. One interesting coincidence is that he served briefly in the Netherlands with the 49th (the Hertfordshire) Regiment of Foot under command of Isaac Brock, future hero of the War of 1812. Not an experienced politician when he was sent to take up the governorship, Aylmer was caught in the middle of a bitter ethnic conflict in Lower Canada. In the end, despite wanting to convince French Canadians of his good intentions, the Governor had set in train events that would lead to the Rebellion of 1837. (Library and Archives Canada, C-004809)

Site: National Defence

Officer and gunner, Royal Regiment of Artillery, 1840

Type: Image

This unit always had several companies posted in Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1840 for example, officers and men wearing the uniforms shown could be seen in Halifax, St. John’s (Newfoundland), St. John (New Brunswick), Quebec, Montreal, Chambly, Drummondville, Kingston and Toronto with detachments in smaller towns and outlying forts.

Site: National Defence

Coat of Captain William Wells, Grenville Regiment, Upper Canada Militia, circa 1820

Type: Image

From 1814 until the 1830s, militia infantry officers in Upper Canada were supposed to wear, apart from a few exceptions, a scarlet uniform faced with dark blue, trimmed with gilt buttons and gold lace edging the collar and cuffs. This surviving coat of circa 1820 belonged to Captain William Wells (1809-1881) of the Grenville Regiment. It is preserved at Fort Wellington National Historic Site. Wells himself was a prominent Reform politician.

Site: National Defence

Brigadier James Wolfe - Battle for a Continent - Fortress Louisbourg

Type: Document

Synopsis of television episode on James Wolfe's role in the siege of Louisbourg. Wolfe was determined to avenge the French general the Marquis de Montcalm's North American victories. It was at Cormorant Cove, which the French neglected to protect, that Wolfe first tasted glory and acquired a reputation for recklessness that would grow. This episode is part of the "Canada: A People's History" series. Includes links to educational resources, bibliography, games, puzzles, and video clips.

Site: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Officer with regimental colour, 9th (the East Norfolk) Regiment of Foot, 1814

Type: Image

The 1st battalion of the 9th (the East Norfolk) Regiment of Foot was sent from the Duke of Wellington's victorious army in Spain to serve in Canada during 1814-1815. This was not the first time in the country for the regiment, which had been part of Burgoyne's army during the American Revolutionary War. This contemporary illustration shows an officer with the regimental colour (in the regiment's yellow facing colour). The 183 centimetre square colour itself is partially furled to make it easier to carry. Accompanying the officer is a colour-sergeant armed with a spontoon. The rank was created in 1813 as the senior non-commissioned officer in an infantry company. These men had a special duty of protecting the colours in action, and were distinguished with a special rank badge worn on the right arm.

Site: National Defence

Corruption Causes Hardship

Type: Document

In 1756, the graft of Canadian-born François Bigot, Intendant (and chief financial minister of New France) made a bad situation worse. His theft and corruption led to rampant inflation in New France, which impoverished many officers, particularly the French-born ones without local incomes.

Site: National Defence

Captain George Denison, York Dragoons, 1820s

Type: Image

George Taylor Denison (1783-1853) founded both a Canadian military dynasty and a militia regiment that survives into the 21st century. Also known as the York Light Dragoons or York Cavalry, the York Dragoons were raised in 1822 and attached to the 1st West York (later Toronto) Militia Regiment. After many changes of name, the unit is now the The Governor General's Horse Guards, a Toronto-based reserve regiment. The uniform in the 1820s was a dark blue jacket with buff facings and silver buttons, lace and wings. (Library of the Canadian Department of National Defence)

Site: National Defence

Lieutenant Esteban José Martínez Fernández y Martínez de la Sierra, Marina real, circa 1785

Type: Image

Martínez (1742-1798), shown here in the full dress uniform of a lieutenant in the Marina real (the Spanish navy) was a key figure in the Spanish exploration of the northwest coast of America. In 1774, he was second in command of the Spanish frigate Santiago, which made the first recorded contact with the Haida in the Queen Charlotte Archipelago. In 1790, Martínez was the officer who almost sent Spain and Great Britain to war with his conduct during the diplomatic standoff at Nootka. (Museo Naval, Madrid)

Site: National Defence

James Fitzgibbon's 1820 testimonial regarding Laura Secord

Type: Document

In June 1813, James FitzGibbon (1780-1863) was a lieutenant of the 49th (the Hertfordshire) Regiment of Foot in command of the British outpost at Beaver Dams. He received warning from Laura Secord (1775-1868) of an impending American surprise attack, and his instructions led to their ambush and surrender. FitzGibbon had a remarkable military career, which reached its high point when he was largely responsible for preventing Mackenzie's rebels from taking Toronto in 1837. This testimonial was reproduced in ‘From Brock to Currie’ (Toronto, 1935).

Site: National Defence

Military Costumes

Type: Document

This section is a collection of surviving artifacts and period artists' illustrations. Illustrated are uniform coats of officers or enlisted men from a variety of Canadian and British units that served in present-day Canada during the period 1780-1870.

Site: National Defence