The Militia Magazines 1867-1916 & Canada’s Big House “Parliamentary Colonel’s.”

I assembled a study paper exploring references, while creating awareness owing too discrepancies, contradictions in, historian’s Desmond Morton, James Wood Militia Myths, Official DHH accounts even though informative, fall-short at times; [1] while wiki, online, paints with a wide-brush. In hindsight the “militia lobby,” would apply too, political parties, house MP’s, magazines, press, influenced by public and personal opinion, supporting the Active Militia as a whole, included commissioned and retired militia officers from the NPAM & PAM (PF).

“The Volunteer Review, Military, Naval Gazette VRMNG was first published in 1867 till post Confederation; printed weekly for ten volumes until 1876.” In 1855 with a brief three issues published in Toronto, the “Illustrated War News,” first printed during the final phase of “Canada’s supposed, first real war,” in the second Northwest campaign. In 1885 J. D. Taylor veteran of the Northwest rebellion purchased the journal, relocated to Ottawa.




The Canadian Militia Gazette, was the official voice for high ranking staff, commissioned and retired officers of the Non-Permanent Active Militia NPAM. First published and styled in Ottawa, by J. D. Taylor Vol. 1, no.1 May 12th, 1885; “a weekly journal devoted to the interests of the active force of the Dominion.” Years later Vol. 6, no.1 Jan. 1st, 1891 its subtitle; “the popular organ of the active force of the Dominion,” Taylor’s adieu editorial issue Vol. 7, no.18 May 5th, 1892. The Militia Gazette moved and published in Montreal with J. P. Edwards excepting the editor’s chair, Vol. 7, no.19 May 12th, 1892. Editorial note front page: “The Canadian Militia Gazette will in future be published in Montreal. It will continue to give a weekly summary of all news relating to the military forces of Canada, and items of interest and use to all branches of the Service. The practical aid of every officer is essential to make the paper a success; if sufficient encouragement be given it will be enlarged and well illustrated. Commanding officers are earnestly requested to arrange that items of regimental news be sent in for publication;” The C.M.G. published until the journal’s last print, Vol. 7, no.30 July 28th, 1892. Perpetuated by the Canadian Military Gazette; the Canadian Militia Gazette last message to subscribers, July 28th, 1892 as fallows:- Commencing 15th August, each issue of this paper will consist of 16 pages of reading matter, bound in a separate cover, size of page will enlarge to about 9 by 14 inches. It will be issued semi-monthly instead of weekly, and the title will be changed to “The Canadian Military Gazette;” it will be the professional “News-Magazine” of the Canadian soldier.

According to James Wood’s Militia Myths, 14 Introduction source,[42-43]: “After 1885, the Militia Gazette gradually evolved into the primary forum of militia opinion in Canada. In 1893, Taylor sold his struggling paper to two young militia officers from Montreal, E. J. Chambers, a major in the 6th Fusiliers of Montreal, and Lieutenant Edward “Desbarats” of 3rd Victoria Rifles, who renamed it the Canadian Military Gazette.” In 1895, Colonel Maclean purchased the rights to the Canadian Military Gazette from Desbarats and Chambers, his intention being to provide “mere Colonials” like himself with an independent voice in the nation’s military affairs. [42, 43] “The militia delegation to Ottawa – including Colonel J.M. Gibson, then a member of the Ontario Liberal government; Colonel George Taylor Denison of Toronto’s Governor General’s Body Guard; and Major Labelle of the French-Canadian 65th Regiment– together approached John Bayne Maclean with the suggestion that he acquire the Canadian Military Gazette. Maclean agreed, and although Desbarats continued as business manager and Chambers remained managing editor, they no longer took public responsibility for the editorial policies of the Gazette. From this point on, Maclean insisted that the paper be devoted exclusively to advancing the interests of the non-permanent militia.” [2] “Despite the growing success of his paper, Colonel Maclean’s involvement with the Canadian Military Gazette began to lessen over time. In 1904, he broke with the other four members of the editorial staff because, despite being a Conservative himself, he believed the paper had been overly critical of Laurier’s Liberal government during its very public dispute with Lord Dundonald, the last British general officer commanding of the Canadian Militia.” [3] After 1897, the editorship passed from Ernest Chambers to “Maj. F. S. Dixon,” then to James S. McDonnell in 1900, and finally to Lt. Col. Andrew T. Thompson, the former MP for Haldimand County, Ontario, in 1906. [4]


The Canadian Military Gazette


Subtitled, “Successor to the Canadian Militia Gazette,” the Canadian Military Gazette, it’s motto; “Devoted to the intersects of the military forces of Canada,” published at Montreal, on the 1st and 15th of each month; first issue, Vol. 7, no. 31 Aug. 15, 1892, no editor mentioned just (s.n.,) “Screen Name,” from editor’s initials (F.R.?) message to readers as fallows:- This number, the first of our new series, speaks for itself, and gives a fair idea of what future issues will be. The Canadian Militia Gazette a change of name, small in itself, but one which considerably enlarge the scope of the paper. The Militia and its doings will of course occupy chief attention, all obtainable records of special parades, inspections, camps, ect., being published; while full scores will be given of all regimental and provincial rifle-matches. Due attention will be given to military matters of interested in Britain and foreign countries; and it is hopped to be a series of regimental histories of the various corps past and present of the Canadian service.

“Captain Ernest John Chambers returned to Montreal, where in 1893-96 he was joint proprietor and editor of the Canadian Military Gazette. During the 1880s he was an officer in the 6th Battalion of Infantry (Fusiliers). In the Origin and services of the 3rd (Montreal) Field Battery of Artillery (Montreal, 1898), for example, he portrayed a unit that was proud to display its “determination to keep the Union Jack flying for all time over this broad Dominion.” On the militia’s formation in April 1903 of an intelligence corps, the “Corps of Guides,” Chambers became a “captain” and intelligence officer for Military District No.5 (Montréal and southwest Québec). As well, in 1912 he became secretary of the Canadian branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association. On moving to Ottawa, Chambers had brought with him his attachment to the Corps of Guides, in which he was promoted Major in (1911), Lieut.-Col. (1915), and “Colonel” (1917). ”[5]

Captain Earnest J. Chambers (Corps of Guides) in 1905 published the 5th Regiment Royal Scots of Canada Highlanders and The Canadian Militia in 1907 adding to his repertoire. Lieutenant Edward “Desbarats” commissioned in 1887 and 88 with 3rd BATT. “Victoria Rifles,” a family tree of, militia officers, Canadian pioneers in printing and studio photography. Edward’s name appears as editor of the Canadian Military Gazette, slightly for over one year in; Vol. 10, no.1 Jan. 1, 1895; his last issue Vol. 11, no. 4 Feb. 15, 1896. With offices in Toronto and Montreal contributing to the Gazette by MacLean Pub., Co., editors responsibilities at the Montreal office; first print issue, Vol. 11, no.5 Mar. 1, 1896. The last issue I viewed in reference, Vol. 11, no.24th Dec. 15, 1896 with MacLean.

Morton states; a predecessor of Smith’s as editor of the Gazette was “Captain” Fred Dixon. A Non-Permanent Active Militia officer, he accompanied Canada’s First Contingent to South Africa in October 1899 as the Historical Recorder. Dixon’s sudden departure for overseas duty would have likely prompted the appointment of Henry Smith to the vacant editorship of the Canadian Military Gazette. [6] Col. Henry Smith was editor of the Canadian Military Gazette from September 4th 1900 issue until the 13 September 1904 issue,.97[7]

The Canadian Military Gazette 63 Vols. can be viewed on microfilm at the Royal Military College’s library, Kingston, ON., and found online, however fall-short at Vol. 11, no.24th Dec. 15, 1896 with MacLean Pub. Co.


In 1894 the birth of VRI Magazine, the professional officers of the PF voicing their agenda and grievances, in articles reprinted by newspapers of the day in their weekly Saturday columns on militia affairs. The C.M.G. declared war on V.I.R.M., with constant frontal and flanked attacks championing support for their cause, the V.I.R.M. battled for years overwhelming odds, until the final “coup de grace” in 1897. According too many accounts, three main reasons the PF never evolved, stagnated circa 750, to 1000 men allotted for years. In 1904 a “new militia bill” passed house vote, an authorized force of 2000, the 1905 amendment to 2000 men (maximum of 5000 if deemed necessary), passed by house vote. In 1906-1914) a mire “permanent corps” capped at (3,000-3,110), owing to the allotted funds, NPAM lobby’s agenda in exploitation of “fickle mps,” non supporters of the PAM (PF). In 1909 the Canadian Defence, and Canadian Field journals fallowed till 1916, creating awareness in “active militia” affaires.


The NPAM Vs PAM (PF) Epic, Media Parliamentary Feud.

 The “Parliamentary Colonels” in 1874 consisted of fourth eight commissioned and retired militia officers, chaired in the big house. By 1900 only the mire reminisce as their numbers drastically declined to eight seating in the House, however in the annual militia debates due too yearly spending increases, the PF stick poked in parliamentary speeches, invoking a public sceptical of incoherent critical rhetoric, resonating throughout the house floor for a decade, till the dawn of First World War.

 The Canadian Military Gazette editorial policy was distinctly anti-Liberal, pro-Conservative, Imperialist’s, reflecting viewpoints of the once mighty Militia Lobby in the House of Commons. Styled as the “Parliamentary Colonels,” even though their numbers diminished, the Magazines editors ect., Militia colonels or officers from the NAPM, PAM took the reins trough an epoch. However when Colonel Henry Smiths “a Militia reformer; an ardent Imperialist, an Anglican.” [8] A former Permanent Force officer surprisingly editor of the Military Gazette, allied connections to the NPAM, Militia Lobby, Conservative Party; publishing militia affaires, airing irritations on both sides, viewed pertinacious to their cause.

As per one, of many examples: Sir. Adolphe-Philippe Caron & Frederick Charles Denison like other “Parliamentary Colonels,” were quick to use their position to attack Canada’s “infant permanent force,” which took scarce funds from volunteer corps such as the “Body Guard.” And like most “mps” of the era, developing an intimate interest in the minor patronage posts that they could influence. Caron made his chief contribution to the political life of the country as minister of militia and defence. Almost as soon as he was appointed, he came into conflict with Richard George Amherst Luard, the British general commanding the Canadian militia. Unlike his father and many colleagues on both sides of the house, Caron had never served in the militia. However, Canada was passing – albeit timidly – through a phase of national self-assertion, and Canadian militiamen, whether English- or French-speaking, had scant affection for the British regulars who came to lecture them on professionalism. The confrontation between Luard and Caron stemmed from two different points of view: the imperialist concept, coming from London, of what the Canadian militia ought to be, and the attitude of Canadian politicians, too often satisfied to have officers appointed on the basis of political friendship rather than competence and unconcerned with building an effective army. Caron was not in the least disconcerted by Luard, who relied for support on the governor general, the Marquess of Lorne Campbell. Caron handled himself well in his dealings with a general who not only lacked tact, but knew so little French that he returned documents written in that language, to have them translated. By taking a firm stand, the minister helped get London to take local factors into account when appointing general officers for Canada.

The militia officers sitting in parliament were wary of the increase in the regular forces that resulted from the new schools, for it meant that there was less money for the amateur soldiers under their command. Indeed, the regular force of 750 was allocated the same amount as the 20,000-man militia. In 1883 Caron repeated his assurances to parliament that the schools did not herald a huge professional army. His caution towards professionalizing and “Canadianizing” the armed forces served only to delay the inevitable, the support of the thousands in the militia seemed more important than that of the hundreds of professional soldiers The Colonels had deliberately dispersed throughout Canada so as to dispel fears that a huge career army would take over the militia’s duties. Members of parliament who were also officers could thus feel that they had some protection from the arrogance of the regular officers who might make them lose standing in the eyes of the militiamen among their constituents. [9] [10].

The Infantry School was allotted 450 all ranks, officer’s appointments were critically questioned in the media and house with a cascade of scrutiny. Concerning a list prepared of Officers to staff of the Permanent Force, however, “…instead of accepting the list of officers proposed by Major-General Richard George Amherst Luard, the British officer commanding the militia, Adolphe-Phillipe Caron, the minister of militia and defence, chose to reward political supporters and friends. Of the twenty-one officers appointed, nine were without previous military experience and three had poor records in the militia.”[11] In 1904 the “Dundonald Incident;” were Lord Earl Dundonald commanding the militia, vigorously voiced the states quo practices of Government MPs. Portions of appointed officers lacked disciplined, professionalism, and buying their rank and commission to a regiment, considered an absurdity of ridicule, scrutinized in the media in the Dominion.



[1] Major Andrew B. Godefroy CD, Ph.D.: The Canadian Army Journal 1947-2007.

[2] Militia Myths, Introduction 15, fotenote 42, 43.

[3] Militia Myths, Introduction 16, Ibid., 45.

[4] Militia Myths, Introduction 16. Ibid.

[5] Dictionary of Canadian Biography vol. 15.

[6] Morton, Desmond, The Canadian General: Sir William Otter, op. cit., pp 390, 393.

[7] Morton, Desmond, The Canadian General: Sir William Otter, pp 390, 393.

[8] Morgan, Henry James; The Canadian Men and Women of the Time, Sec. Ed, p. 1,036

[9] CARON, Sir ADOLPHE-PHILIPPE, “Dictionnaire Biographique Du Canada,” vol. 13, p.186-188.

[10] DENISON, FREDERICK CHARLES, “Dictionnaire Biographique Du Canada,” vol. 12. p.265-268.

[11] Harris, Stephen J., Vidal, Beaufort Henry, 15 Jan 2011.





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