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Entrance to the Rideau Canal at Ottawa, circa 1838

Type: Image

The Sleigh Bay entrance to the Rideau Canal is a spectacular sequence of eight locks climbing 25.3 metres from the river to the plateau above. This watercolour of circa 1838 shows the entrance from the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. Construction work on the canal began here in 1827. Alongside the locks can be seen two stone buildings - the Commissariat on the west side (here, to the right) and the Ordnance (or Royal Engineers) Building on the east side. The former survives today as the Bytown Museum. Barracks Hill, just to the west of the locks, is now the site of the Canadian Parliament Buildings, built starting in 1859. (Library and Archives Canada, C-011864)

Site: National Defence

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

British iron guns mounted on iron carriages, circa 1815

Type: Image

Iron carriages were introduced in the British artillery in 1810. They were to be placed ‘in such parts of fortifications as are least exposed to the enemy’s fire’ as it was feared they would shatter if hit by enemy artillery. The examples seen in this photograph are found at the Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site.

Site: National Defence

Fort Henry, Kingston, 1839

Type: Image

Fort Henry was the largest and most modern fort built by the British Army in Upper Canada and was nicknamed ‘the citadel of Upper Canada’. This watercolour was made in April, 1839, during the aftermath of the 1837-1838 Rebellions in Canada. Restored in the 1930s, the Kingston, Ontario structure is now one of the major historic sites in Canada. (Library and Archives Canada, C-000510)

Site: National Defence

Camp of the 43rd Regiment of Foot during the siege of Fort Beauséjour, June 1755

Type: Image

The men of the British 43rd Regiment of Foot were part of a 2,000 strong army under Lietenant-Colonel Robert Monkton that took Fort Beauséjour after a brief siege in the summer of 1755. At left can be seen men of the grenadier company, distinguished by their pointed mitre headdresses. In the centre are ordinary soldiers who have the tricorne hats worn by most of the regiment. The young men to the right are drummers, wearing coats with reversed colours (white with red facings instead of red with white). This was intended to make drummers easy to spot in a fight, which was important, since drum beats were used to give orders. The presence of women and children seem odd in a military encampment, but each British regiment would have a small number of soldiers' families following them on campaign. Reconstruction by Lewis Parker. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

York Redoubt, 1882

Type: Image

York Redoubt, built east of Halifax, was the first major fort guarding the harbour’s entrance. The first batteries on the site were constructed in 1793. Over the years, the site was improved. Advances in weapons technology made the site obsolete in the 1860s, and a substantial rebuilding process began, incorporating rifled muzzle loading guns. This engraving shows the Redoubt in 1882. The site is now a National Historic Site.

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

British Fleet Lifts the Siege

Type: Document

Despite having won a battle outside the city in April 1760, the French army was unable to retake Quebec. General Murray, commanding the British defenders, refused to give up. A siege began for control of the city, but a British fleet arrived with more men, ending the contest.

Site: National Defence

British iron mortar, circa 1810

Type: Image

Mortars were designed to shoot an exploding shell at a very high angle, 45 degrees or more. They were used in the siege and defence of fortifications. An explosive shell was fired up into the air and arced downwards to drop within the enemy defences. When the shell's fuse burned down, it exploded. These projectiles are the 'bombs bursting in air' mentioned in the American national anthem, where they were being fired from a British fleet attacking Baltimore.

Site: National Defence

Interpreter, Indian Department, 1812-1815

Type: Image

Officers and interpreters of the British Indian Department in Canada were often found in action with warriors during the War of 1812, the most famous instance being possibly at Beaver Dams in June 1813. At that time, the department’s uniform scarlet was faced with green. Interpreters, not being commisioned officers, did not have epaulettes. Reconstruction by Ron Volstad. (Canadian Department of National Defence)

Site: National Defence