SINCE the July number of CANADIAN LIFE AND RESOURCES came off the press our citizen-soldiers have returned home from their annual field-training carrying to almost every village and concession road some of the atmosphere and spirit of military life. One effect of this is to direct public attention to the means of defence at the command of the Government of the Dominion. The right arm of our defence, so far as it depends upon our own effort, is the Active Militia and our small Permanent Force. These constitute the armed and trained army of defence of Canada, and in this number appears an article describing that force, giving its strength, the nature of its organization, its equipment and the available supply of arms, munitions and stores. The purpose of the article is to place before our readers the plain facts of the case, to point out fairly the extent of our means of defence and to indicate where deficiencies exist and where improvements are needed. This plain tale of our military establishment and of its cost will, we hope, give our readers a clearer view than they have hitherto had of the position Canada is in respecting the protection of her own soil.
The Alpine Club of Canada has again had its annual outing and conquered other peaks of the Canadian Rockies. A description of their latest camp and of the exploits of the mountain-climbers will be found in this issue. The illustrations are from photographs taken during the holding of the camp, especially for CANADIAN LIFE AND RESOURCES. They give not only an idea of the exploits of these Canadian Alpiners, but present views of the beauty and grandeur of Canada’s mountain scenery. In contrast to this, another article depicts the quiet beauties of the Muskoka country, where gentle rivers wind through pleasant woodlands and sunlit lakes reflect the shadows of pine- clad hills. Muskoka is one of the favourite summer playgrounds of Eastern Canada and it never fails to charm its visitors.
The Yellowhead Pass, through which the lines of the Grand Trunk Pacific and the Canadian Northern Railways will be built on their way to the Coast, will be described in our coming issues; also the sporting aspect of the Peace River country. We will also give our readers a review of the latest addition to the Makers of Canada series, which deals with the fight for responsible Government in Canada under Baldwin, Lafontaine and Hincks. We have also in course of preparation an article on big game in Western Canada which will interest many now that the hunting season is again near at hand. Our September number will please you.
SWORN average monthly circulation for year ending April, 1907 12,876.
OUR MILITARY SYSTEM:
A BRIEF CONSIDERATION OF THE MILITIA SYSTEM OF CANADA, ITS RECENT GROWTH, PRESENT POSITION AND ITS NEEDS FOR THE FUTURE.
WHAT is the military system of Canada? The question is one which the intelligent visitor to the Dominion and the foreign student of our affairs often asks. The answer is not easily obtained, nor indeed is it an easy one to supply in small compass. The ordinary citizen, busy with his affairs, has not, we fear, a very clear idea either of what the Canadian militia system is or aims to be. As long as Canada remains within the British Empire he knows full well that the main burden of our defence will fall upon the Imperial forces and, therefore, the composition, strength and equipment of the home forces have not a very ‘live’ interest for him. But now that the last Imperial soldier has left Canadian soil, the question takes on a more serious aspect. The taking over of Halifax and Esquimalt by the Canadian forces a step which the whole people of Canada approved and the departure of the British garrison has made it necessary to organize more thoroughly and completely our own staffs. As Sir Frederick Borden said in April this year, in the House, whilst the British soldiers were here an Imperial officer was always stationed at Halifax, and it was one of the most important garrisons of Great Britain. There were always at Halifax the heads of the different departments which would be necessary in the event of war and which would be able to take the field and organize throughout the Dominion all the departments of a complete army. When the British soldiers withdrew it became necessary in the militia of Canada to organize all the departments of an army. This has now been done. The different departments which have been established are as follows: chief of the general staff, and under him an intelligence branch, the ordnance corps branch, the medical service, the engineers, the signalling service, the army service corps, the pay corps, the school of musketry and the inspector-general’s department.”
These additions to our military establishment have caused a great increase in expenditure. The militia expenditure for 1895-6 amounted to $1,500,000, whereas the expenditure in 1905-6 was about $4,000,000. “The first and chief cause for this increase,” said Sir Frederick,” is, of course, the taking over by Canada of all responsibility for expenditure in connection with the maintenance of the fortresses at Halifax and Esquimalt, thereby relieving the British exchequer entirely from all expenditure of any kind for military purposes in Canada,” but during the past ten years there has been steady improvement in our militia system……..
Sir Frederick Borden enumerated these changes in the House of Commons on the day aforementioned, as follows:–
“I have referred to the fact that we have relieved the Mother Country of all expenditures for the purposes of defence in Canada. We have made a thorough reorganization of the department and large commands. We have passed a pension law and a militia law. We have established a Militia Council. We have greatly improved the facilities for the education of officers, particularly by arrangements made with the War Office by which we have the right to send and are sending two officers each year to the Staff College in England. We have established a school of musketry. We have established rifle associations, which are rapidly increasing. We have constructed rifle ranges, on which we have spent over $1,000,000 in the last ten years. We have established a central camp with an area of over 100 square miles. We are establishing a reserve of equipment and of stores. We have developed the Dominion arsenal enormously; the output a few years ago was less than 2,000,000 rounds per year, whereas to-day it is between 12,000,000 and 13,000,000 rounds. We have greatly added to material, including artillery, and we hope that in the not very distant future we may have established in this country a factory which will manufacture our own artillery. Last, we have established in Canada a rifle factory about which there might be some difference of opinion. However, I believe that will prove to be one of the most important things that has been done for the militia of the country and for the country itself. The Royal Military College has grown so that to-day the number of students is 90, as against less than 60 ten years ago. While ten or twelve years ago there were not more than three or four graduates of that college in the permanent force of Canada or on the staff, there are to-day sixty graduates of that college occupying important positions on the staff and in our permanent force.”
What is the aim of our authorities in the organization of our military system? Briefly it is this to have 100,000 men on the militia war footing, of whom the front rank, as it were, shall be the present force of 50,000 men, and the rear rank the first 50,000 men who offer themselves as recruits. How near is the present militia force and its equipment to this desired end? The militia force of Canada, as legally constituted, consists of three portions, the Permanent Corps, the Active Militia and the Reserve Militia. Of these the last mentioned has never been organized. Although authority was obtained from Parliament in 1905 to raise the establishment of the permanent force to a maximum not exceeding 5,000 men, in order to provide for the garrisons of Halifax and Esquimalt and other requirements, it was decided that the increase should only proceed gradually and as funds were available.
On June 30th, 1906, whilst the authorized establishment of the Permanent Force was 3,824, the actual strength was only 2,448. The discrepancy between the two figures is caused by the difficulty of obtaining recruits. Owing mainly to the condition of the labour market the native-born Canadian does not enlist in great numbers. Although the Canadian soldier is more highly paid than any other regular soldier in the world (receiving on enlistment two dollars a month more than the United States recruit) during 1906 only 348 recruits were received. The strength of this Permanent Force is to-day about 2,800. Both the numbers and the efficiency of this Permanent Force ought to be at once increased, as it is upon the standard of efficiency maintained therein, that the efficiency of the militia in general ultimately depends the officials themselves admit the unsatisfactory condition, for instance, of the Horse Artillery. (See Annual Report for year ending Dec., 1906).
It is not easy to get at the exact numbers of the Active Militia. In 1905 this force consisted of about 47,000 all told, of those who drilled in camps of instruction or at regimental headquarters in the case of city regiments. (It was then intended to raise the strength of the Active Militia to 55,000, which would be the peace establishment, easily expanded into 100,000 men as the war strength of the Active Militia).
On April 2nd, in the House of Commons, Sir Frederick Borden said: “The Permanent Force is something less than 3,000 and the Active Militia something less than 49,000. The total militia estimates this year are something like $4,000,000.”