Select a letter to browse an alphabetical listing of terms and definitions.
Militia units of volunteering or drafted of militiamen in wartime and times of emergencies. These units were organized under local provincial colonial authority to serve full time as regular troops until disbanded. The name Incorporated Militia was mostly used in Upper Canada during the War of 1812 and the 1837-1838 Rebellions.
See also Select Embodied Militia
The British Indian Department originated in 1755 with Sir William Johnson’s appointment as superintendent of Indian Affairs in the Northern Department of the British colonies in America. Thanks to his great diplomatic and military skills, and with the help of several officers and translators, his department quickly became a keystone for British policy with the Indian nations in the wilderness interior. Initially based in northern New York colony, the department moved to Canada during the American Revolution and its officers and staff gave invaluable services during that war and the War of 1812. Its officers took a leading part in supporting allied chiefs, were influential in obtaining supplies for the Indians and often fought by their side.
In peacetime, the staff of the Indian Department strove to maintain good relations with Indian nations and this helped to preserve much of British North America from usurpation by the Americans. The department operated as a combined military and diplomatic entity and its officers had provincial commissions and wore uniforms. Its military role ended in 1830 when it was converted into a civil service department to administrate Indian reserves.
In the early 1900s, there were no distinct Indian units in the Canadian Militia, although the 37th Haldiman Rifle Regiment had a sizeable number of Iroquois Indians in its ranks. In the First World War, at least 4,000 Canadian Indians volunteered and served in various Canadian Expeditionary Force battalions. Several hundred were in the 114th Battalion, which had two companies, officers included, that were entirely Indian. At least 300 of that battalian were killed. Many Natives drew upon traditional hunting and military skills to become very effective snipers or reconnaissance scouts. In spite of difficult conditions due to racial prejudice towards Indians, Mike Mountain Horse, a First World War veteran, recorded "The war proved that the fighting spirit of my tribe was not squelched through reservation life..."
In 1946, the Indian Affairs Branch recorded 3,090 Indian volunteers in the Second World War, but this figure has been contested and may be much higher. As early as 1942, Member of Parliament (and later Prime Minister) John Diefenbaker noted in the House of Commons that "In Western Canada the [Indian] reserves have been depleted of almost all the physically fit men." As in the First World War, most Natives served in the infantry, primarily because it required the most manpower. While, many Aboriginals again became known for their sniping and scouting skills, Naitve soldiers assumed a broader range of duties in many types of units. Service life was a form of liberation from the reserve; as Tommy Prince put it, "As soon as I put on my uniform I felt a better man". He went on to highly distinguished service in the elite 1st Special Service Force. Until early in the Second World war, the other branches of military service - the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the growing Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) - had entrance restrictions like educational requirements or a racist preference for candidates whose ancestors were British. The 1942-1943 report of the Indian Affairs Branch listed only 29 Indians in the air services and nine in the RCN, although these numbers grew by war's end. One of these men, Flying Officer Willard John Bolduc, an Ojibwa from Chapleau, Ontario, earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his performance as an air gunner during a series of bombing attacks in 1943.
At the very least, over 7,000 Indians served in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War, and an unknown number of Inuit, Métis and other Natives also participated. One Native veterans group has estimated that 12,000 Natives served in the three wars and some beleive it may have been as high as 15,000. Whatever the numbers, Canada's Native soldiers overcame racial and cultural challenges, made impressive sacrifices, and contributed to help the nation in its efforts to restore world peace.
See also: Canadian Rangers
Information and Media
Communications with the military is basically comprised of the communication of orders and the receipt of reports by and to commanding officers. Clearly informed subalterns have better chances of achieving objectives; and commanders must have immediate and accurate reports on the conditions and casualties of their force. Communication can be by voice, writing or visual signals. In a more administrative sense, communications in the form of printed orders and circulars has been widely used since the 17th century. In fact, the main army headquarters sometimes brought printing presses on campaign.
Military information has many sources and mediums but it must be fragmented for the sake of security. Only senior commanders need to have a grasp of the true and complete situation. Junior officers may be captured, and only require an idea of their sector’s status so as to have little informatiuon of use to the enemy.
Publications provided another source of information, and magazines, such as The Maple Leaf published during the First World War, brought news and entertainment to the troops. These publications were also an excellent source of military propaganda aimed at lifting morale for the war effort.
See also: Censorship, War Correspondent
Insignia, plaques and coats of arms
Distinguishing badge or mark. Used by warriors and military organizations since earliest times. In Canada, European explorers used the coats of arms of their respective countries when taking possession of areas in the name of their rulers. The accounts of early explorers mention Indians having distinctive signs on their shields and other items. At the end of the 18th century, insignia such as ciphers began to be used on brass shoulder belt-plates and plaques, buttons and, from 1800, on shako plates. Insignia also embellished unit colours and standards. At the end of the 19th century, unit badges were added to Canadian military uniforms. Ships and air force squadrons have plaques bearing their respective badge or coat of arms.