Canada’s “Permanent Force” Annual Militia Report, Year Ending Mar. 31st, 1908.


  1. Advantage was taken of the visit of the 1st cruiser squadron to Halifax, N.S., to obtain expert naval opinion regarding certain matters connected with the defence of that fortress, and thanks are due to Captain Sir Robert Arbuthnot, Bart., M.V.O., H.M.S. Hampshire, for a very valuable report drawn up under his direction.
  2. Questions connected with the military situation both at home and abroad were carefully studied; the general scheme of defence was, in part, amended; and the allotment of units to field forces and garrisons revised and brought up to date.
  3. Special attention was directed to mobilization, the process by which an armed force passes from a peace to a war footing. The problem to solve is how to prepare for the field, at short notice, a first line of about 100,000 men, and how, concurrently, to raise, train and equip a second line of the same or similar strength. Many difficulties have yet to be surmounted before a satisfactory solution can be reached.
  4. The militia, for example, has just entered upon a period of re-armament, which, because it is a period of weakness, should be traversed with the utmost speed. On the other hand, the cost of re-armament is considerable and it must be distributed over a length of time. These conflicting conditions cannot be avoided.
  5. Again, the first line is defective in composition, in that it does not include a due proportion of combatant units and subsidiary services, and it is weak both in artillery and in engineers. These defects cannot at once be remedied, but the knowledge of their existence is being borne in mind in determining future policy.
  6. But perhaps the most pressing of present requirements is the provision of the additional equipment which would be required by first line troops on receipt of an order to mobilize ; and this ‘mobilization equipment,’ as it is termed, needs not only to be provided, but, also, to be decentralized.
  7. Steps are being taken in the required direction, but delay is unavoidable. Meanwhile it would be wrong to conceal the fact that the progress of mobilization would be hampered by difficulties connected with the issue of equipment, and, though time might be a consideration of vital importance, a long interval would elapse before even first line troops could turn out fully equipped for service in the field.
  8. Moreover the nation’s military responsibilities are growing; their growth cannot be arrested. Owing to the astonishing developments which have taken place in the four western provinces, something better than a system of isolated organizations is becoming more and more necessary, and with a view to increasing the militia forces in that section, the policy outlined in a memorandum prepared by the military members of the Militia Council, in 1905, and laid before Parliament in the session of that year, has been carefully followed, though for financial and other reasons expansion has been slower than was anticipated.
  9. In short a great deal remains to be done, more than it is possible to do at present. But, though progress has not been so fast as may appear desirable from a purely military point of view, it has nevertheless been steady, consistent and continuous.
Captain A.H. Borden, Adjutant of the Royal Canadian Regiment, July 25th 1905.

Captain A.H. Borden, Adjutant of the Royal Canadian Regiment, July 25th 1905.


  1. During the year an increased interest in musketry was generally observed. The officers and men better realized that an adequate knowledge of the rifle was as essential to efficiency, as any other branch of training, if not more so. 30. The free issue of sub target rifle machines to rifle associations and cadet corps was authorized and issues were made. These machines were also extensively used by the militia generally, and appreciation of them was more marked. Recruits, who were unable to hit the target at 100 yards, were, after a short practice with these machines, able to make creditable scores at much longer ranges.
  2. Company armouries, where instructions can be carried on with sub-target rifle machines and gallery ammunition before the men go to camp, are urgently needed.
  3. Regulations requiring a minimum standard of efficiency in musketry, before men could draw efficiency pay, were promulgated in March, 1907, and the result was eminently satisfactory from a training point of view. All possible facilities for acquiring knowledge of the rifle and of aiming were supplied, including, in most cases, a sufficient number of qualified instructors. Where men failed to qualify, the fault was to be largely attributed to the carelessness of their own officers and themselves.
  4. The employment of men from the Permanent Force as markers and register keepers quite justified the expenditure. In many cases these men, while acting as register keepers, were also most useful instructors.
  5. More systematic preliminary musketry instruction in camps of training was carried out than heretofore. This was done without material increase of expenditure and it is believed that greater efficiency has been secured, although it cannot be said that the musketry training is yet entirely satisfactory. A number of units authorized to train at local headquarters practically did no musketry owing to lack of range facilities.


  1. Rifle associations largely increased in membership, the numbers and membership being as follows:—
  • Military Rifle Associations – numbers…130…Membership….14,870.
  • Civilian Rifle Associations……Ibid…… 367…..Ibid…………..22,718.
  • ………Total……………………………….497…………………..37,588.
  1. The above figures show an increase of eighty military associations and twenty-three civilian, and in members, of 3,584.
  2. These associations were carefully inspected and on the whole, are doing good work.
Colonel Wadmore and Royal Canadian Regiment 1906, Halifax N.S.'

Colonel Wadmore and Royal Canadian Regiment 1906, Halifax N.S.’


Permanent Force.

  1. As regards the general efficiency in signalling of the several units of the Permanent Force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles; ‘A’ Battery, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery; No. 3 Company, Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, and ‘I’ Company, Royal Canadian Regiment, took first place in their respective arms. Artillery.
  2. The marks allowed for signalling in the General Efficiency Competition proved a great incentive for a keen and healthy competition in signalling among artillery units. No. 3 Battery, 2nd Regiment, Canadian Artillery, Montreal, stood first; 13th Field Battery, Canadian Artillery, Winnipeg, Man., second, and No. 1 Company, 3rd Regiment, Canadian Artillery, St. John, N.B., third.
Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, Nov. 1907, Halifax, N.S.

Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, Nov. 1907, Halifax, N.S.



  1. The several units of the Permanent Force were in a generally efficient condition in so far as administration was concerned, while in the matter of strength they were well up to the establishment allowed.
  2. The Royal Schools of Instruction were, as a rule, well attended, and the syllabus prescribed efficiently carried out.
  3. Unfortunately, there appears a tendency on the part of officers attending these courses to cut as short as possible the periods of instruction, and to resort, where possible, to provisional schools at local headquarters. This is to be greatly regretted, as practice in their duties is absolutely necessary to give an officer experience and fitness for military duty.
  4. The organization of a permanent unit as a Royal School of Instruction in Military District No. 13 has been decided upon and will be carried into effect as soon as financial conditions permit.
  5. The discipline of the Permanent Force, as a whole, was satisfactory; the crime of desertion and other offences, generally, very materially decreased during the twelve months under review.
  6. Confidential reports similar to those submitted on all officers of the British army are now made annually upon officers of the Permanent Force, in addition to more searching reports upon all young officers on the conclusion of their first, second and third years of service. These reports, inasmuch as any adverse comment has to be communicated personally to the officer reported upon, serve a useful purpose, by making the officers aware of their shortcomings and thereby affording them opportunity for improvement.


  1. The work of the various permanent detachments was well kept up. With increased knowledge their usefulness is steadily growing.


  1. The Esquimalt garrison carried out their duties in an excellent manner considering the small establishment of the units at that station.


  1. During the year ending March 31, 1908, 24 officers were appointed to the several branches of the Permanent Force, as follows:—
  • Cavalry……………………………………………3.
  • Artillery………………………………………………….3.
  • Engineers…………………………………………2.
  • Infantry…………………………………………….5.
  • Canadian Permanent Army Service Corps……3.
  • Permanent Army Medical Corps…………………2.
  • Canadian Ordnance Corps………………………5.
  • Canadian Army Pay Corps……………………….1.
  1. The establishments of the several units of the Permanent Force were promulgated in August, 1907.
  2. The establishment of the units of the Permanent Force stationed at Halifax, though large enough to provide efficiently for the defence of that fortress, is still considerably below what it was when the Imperial troops formed the garrison. This reduction in numbers was made feasible by the fact that the Canadian garrison was, so to speak, at home on its own soil, and could, therefore, more efficiently train and utilize the local corps of the Active Militia to reinforce it at short notice than could the Imperial troops.
  3. While, therefore, the reduction in numbers was both right on the ground of public economy and justifiable as regards the efficient maintenance of the fortress, it makes it absolutely necessary that the units of the Permanent Force stationed at Halifax should at all times be kept up to their full establishment, for the troops have to carry out nearly the same number of duties as had their predecessors. These duties are sufficient to occupy the full time of the troops in garrison when complete in numbers, and any falling off in strength imposes a severe strain on those remaining. Similar reasoning applies, with even increased force, to Esquimalt.
  4. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary to maintain the full present establishment of the Permanent Force allotted to garrison duty. Any reduction in this must mean that, unless Canada is to fail in her engagement to the rest of the Empire to maintain the fortress committed to her charge in a state of efficiency—which is not to be thought of—the reduction can only be made good by withdrawing officers and men from the establishments at present authorized for schools of instruction.
  5. It must always be borne in mind that the primary object of the existence of the Permanent Force is the instruction of the Active Militia. Yet it has never been possible, out of the money voted by Parliament, to maintain the schools of instruction at a sufficient strength to give proper teaching to the officers and men of the Active Militia. For example, it is evidently impracticable with an establishment at an infantry school of 80 all ranks or at a cavalry school of 90 all ranks to teach satisfactorily a field officer of the Active Militia how to train and manoeuvre a battalion or regiment of over 400 strong in peace, which, in war, would be at least 50 per cent stronger still. Hardly anything satisfactory, even in the direction of skeleton training can be performed under present conditions. If, therefore, in order to maintain the garrison at Halifax in an efficient condition, in accordance with our pledge to the Imperial authorities, it is necessary to draw more troops from the units which form schools of instruction, it can only result in the latter being nearly squeezed out of existence. They cannot then be anything but inefficient.
  1. It is clear that the garrisons at our fortresses must be maintained. It is likewise clear that, for the proper administration of the militia as a whole, and in order to enable it to take the field, when required, the present departmental corps, which cost about one-third of the whole amount spent on the Permanent Force, must also be maintained. These exist for the use and benefit of the militia generally, to provide for its wants in food, supplies, transport, medical care, and munitions of war when it goes on service, and must be kept up whether a combatant permanent force for purposes of instruction is retained or not, as they are essential to the organization of an armed force.
  2. It being impossible either to reduce the garrisons at Halifax, Quebec and Esquimalt, or to cut down the departmental corps, the only means to enable the Permanent Force to carry out satisfactorily its primary duty of instructing the militia is to increase the establishments, so that a company of infantry can be at its proper strength of at least 100 men, a squadron of cavalry muster 120 men, and a battery of artillery have not less than 140 men.
  3. The present establishment of each horse artillery battery is but 113; that of each squadron of cavalry or mounted rifles, 90 men; and of a company of infantry, 80 men. It is really remarkable how units of so low an establishment, many of them isolated, can carry on their duties at all. Yet it is expected by the public that they should be kept in such a state of efficiency and training that they can be got together at a moment’s notice, whether in support of the civil power, for a ceremony such as the Tercentenary Celebration at Quebec, or for higher field training, as at Petawawa, without falling too far below the standard set by the regular troops of the Empire, who have the advantage in every respect.
  4. The Militia Council feel that, if these facts were but properly understood by Parliament, the objections often raised to any increase of expenditure on the Permanent Force would largely disappear.
Colonel Wadmore and Royal Canadian Regiment 1906, Halifax N.S.'

Colonel Wadmore and Royal Canadian Regiment 1906, Halifax N.S.’



  1. The following return shows the state of the Permanent Force on March 31, 1908:—
State of Permanent Force, March 31st, 1908.

State of Permanent Force, March 31st, 1908.

  • Respectfully submitted, F. W. BORDEN, Minister of Militia and Defence. 
  • Department of Militia and Defence, Ottawa, April 1, 1908.


  1. In the report of last year it was remarked that the efficiency of the Permanent Force would gain greatly if a specific period could be set aside for the more advanced training of the units themselves, and regret was expressed that it had been found impracticable in 1906 to assemble them for the purpose at Petawawa. Hitherto they have been expected to train the unites of the active Militia in the higher branches of military science without having had any opportunity of practically studying these branches themselves. Considering this drawbacks, the results obtained have been highly praiseworthy, but there can be little ground for surprise that the Permanent Force should occasionally have fallen short of what was expected.
  2. In 1907 the Militia Council found themselves in a position to assemble practically the whole of the mobile units of the Permanent Force at Petawawa Camp for training. It was the first occasion in their history in which the several arms and units of the force had had the opportunity of working together, and thus learning their business, not only as separate branches of service, but as component parts of an organized military force. In a military sense it is imposable to overestimate the value of this training, of which full advantage was taken by the troops concerned.
  3. The units assembled were: “A” and “B” Squadrons, Royal Canadian Dragoons; “A” and “B” Batteries, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery; a Heavy Battery, Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery; No. 2 Company, Royal Canadian Engineers; a battalion (8 companies0 Royal Canadian Regiment, and detachments of Permanent Army Medical Corps, Permanent Army Service Corps and Canadian Ordnance Corps.
  4. the first object aimed at was to enable units to complete their annual squadron battery or company training on ground suitable for up-to-date training while unfortunately was not to be found at any of their own stations. The second object was to follow up this individual training with a more advanced course of combined training and field operations than had hitherto been possible. One squadron, Royal Canadian Dragoons, and one battery, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, marched to camp by road, thus gaining useful experience. The distance, and consequent length of time involved, prevented this course from being followed by the other units.
  5. The course of training included:—
  • (1.) Service of security: advance and rear guards and outposts by day and night, under service conditions; encampments and bivouacs.
  • (2.) Reconnaissance and scouting by cavalry and infantry.
  • (3.) Convoys and marches.
  • (4.) Fire-discipline and field operations of all arms in combination.
  • (5.) Field-firing operations, all arms.
  1. There can be no doubt but that this training proved a decided success and resulted in a marked improvement in the general efficiency of all branches of the Force. Much keenness and interest were shown in the field operations, which enabled the different arms to study each other’s methods of work and systems of organization, and to consider how best to obtain mutual co-operation on service in the field.
  2. The Royal Canadian Dragoons were of good physique, intelligent and well mounted. They worked well, notwithstanding the handicap of a small establishment and want of ground for training at their home stations. The importance of horsemanship was, perhaps, hardly enough appreciated.
  3. Distance will always militate against the Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles being trained with other units of the Permanent Force. The squadron, however, made good progress during the year and carried out useful training.
  4. The Royal Canadian Horse Artillery showed great improvement over the previous year. They were well horsed and for the first time the two batteries had the opportunity of working as a Horse Artillery Brigade. Naturally, a few mistakes occurred, but real progress was also made. Their gun practice, carried out under service conditions, also showed marked improvement, though a little tendency towards too deliberate methods was noticeable.
  5. The Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery (Heavy Battery) did excellent work both in their own training and as instructors to the heavy batteries of the Active Militia. The coast defence companies at Halifax showed great keenness and a marked improvement in their knowledge of their important work.
  6. The Royal Canadian Engineers at Petawawa were necessarily employed mainly in the development of the camp, civil labour being difficult to obtain, and as a consequence were not able to take full advantage of the presence of the other arms at the camp to practise combined training. They were, however, brought out for combined field operations whenever possible. They were organized as a complete company, and did their work with keenness and intelligence.
  7. The Royal Canadian Engineers at Halifax went through a complete course of training during the summer, and their work, at the’ experimental mobilization on November 1, especially as regards electric light work, showed excellent results.
  8. The Royal Canadian Regiment, which as a rule suffers more than any other corps of the Permanent Force from being split up into detachments, profited greatly from the training it received at Petawawa, where, for the first time since 1894 and the second time in its history, the regiment was brought together and exercised as a complete unit.
  9. The men were of fine physique, steady under arms and well drilled; the non-commissioned officers generally were intelligent and well selected. The officers, with some conspicuous exceptions, were not proportionately quite so efficient, and showed some disposition to look upon the training as unnecessary trouble. However, as the work went on, a real interest began to be established, and before the end of the training a creditable degree of efficiency was obtained.
  10. The training of the Departmental Corps—the Permanent Army Medical Corps, Canadian Army Service Corps and Canadian Ordnance Corps—differs to some extent from that of the combatant branches of the service in that the carrying out of their ordinary duties in peace is in itself a more practical training for war than can be the case with the other arms.
  11. The work performed by all these corps has been uniformly good, and their organization has made satisfactory progress; more especially in the case of the Canadian Ordnance Corps. There is still noticeable, however, in all departmental corps a tendency to consider their interests distinct from, instead of identical with, those of the rest of the service.
  12. The organization of the Canadian Army Pay Corps has made progress and much useful work has been accomplished in introducing system into the pay arrangements, examining accounts which it had not previously been possible to check, and, generally, ensuring prompt payments and prevention of waste.
The wreck of the artillery train at Enterprise Ont., 9 June 1903..

The wreck of the artillery train at Enterprise Ont., 9 June 1903..


  • From the Inspector-General, Canadian Militia,
  • To the Secretary of the Militia Council.


  1. I have inspected the different permanent units and the Schools of Instruction based thereon, other than those at Winnipeg and Esquimalt, and “B” Battery Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, and including the troops forming the garrison at Halifax, as also the fortifications and armament at that station. As the result of these inspections has formed the subject of special confidential reports to Council, but brief reference to them will be necessary here.
  1. I found the different units, with one exception, in a state of efficiency; but too much of the instruction in the Schools, in some instances, was left to the non-commissioned officers and too little part taken in it by the officers. The attendance of officers and non- commissioned officers for instruction was very small, and, evidently, for some reason, the officers of the militia do not avail themselves, to anything like the full extent, of the means of instruction provided for them at the Schools of the different arms. I must except from these remarks the School of Infantry at Quebec, which had a very large number both of officers and non-commissioned officers undergoing instruction.
  2. Both Corps and Schools were hampered by the great difficulty in obtaining recruits and by the large number of desertions and of men discharged by purchase; these causes rendering them all below the authorized strength, and necessitating an undue proportion of non-commissioned officers, who would otherwise have been available for the instruction of the Active Militia, being employed in the instruction of recruits.
  3. The difficulty in obtaining recruits and the enormous amount of desertion must be attributed to other causes than the question of pay, as the Canadian soldier on enlistment is to-day the most highly paid in any service in the world, receiving as he does, $15 per month, against $13 per month in the United States army. The condition of affairs, however, in the labour market is now undergoing so great a change and is likely, in the near future, to undergo so much greater a change that I do not anticipate any difficulty in getting a sufficient number of able-bodied men to fill the ranks of the Permanent Force for some years to come.
  4. It would appear to be necessary, if these corps are to efficiently carry out the primary reason for their existence, i.e., the instruction of the Active Militia, to materially add to the number of ‘ non-commissioned officer ‘ instructors attached to them, in order that a sufficient number of competent instructors may at all times be available for the instruction of the militia, both in camps and at local headquarters.
  5. At my inspection of the Infantry School at Quebec, I found but two instructors, capable of correctly imparting instruction in the French language, available for the instruction of the entire French-speaking militia of that province.
Officers of the 5th Royal Garrison Regiment, Nov 1902, Halifax NS.

Officers of the 5th Royal Garrison Regiment, Nov 1902, Halifax NS.


  1. One of the duties laid down for the Inspector-General is to report on the fitness for war of the forces of the Dominion; the object of the training of all troops being to fit them for the real business of war. I have endeavoured, therefore, to ascertain, as far as possible, not only the actual present condition of the troops, but to arrive at the amount of additional training that they would require before they would be in a fit condition to take the field with an average prospect of success against the disciplined forces of a civilized nation. It may be considered that, in so doing, I am trespassing on the duties of another officer. I trust, however, that this is not the case, as I am endeavouring to report, not upon the method of training, but upon the result of training, and I believe the following periods of time will be found to be correct. I presume, of course, that all necessary clothing, arms and equipment are available, and that the ranks of all corps are brought up to their full war strength by voluntary enlistment or by ballot, or by a combination of both, and that the ranks having been so completed, they are carefully trained by competent instructors in camps of instruction for the specified periods:—
  • Cavalry—One month to ninety days.
  • (2) Artillery, field and garrison—Ten to thirty days.
  • (3) Infantry corps in large cities—Seven to thirty days.
  • (4) All other infantry—Thirty to ninety days.
  1. History teaches that armies of recruits, led by veterans and officered by experienced soldiers, make excellent fighting material; in proof of which assertion, I quote Napoleon’s campaigns of 1813 and 1814 (it is true that they ended disastrously for the Empire, but that they so ended was due to no defects or shortcoming on the part of the French armies, but to other causes familiar to the students of history) also the Waterloo campaign, in which the British army was composed largely of recruits and drafts from the militia, officered by veterans of the Peninsula war. On the other hand armies composed of inexperienced men led by inexperienced officers are worthless as fighting organizations.
  2. Men, individually brave, massed in undisciplined bodies, under inexperienced commanders, are often weak in courage and become mere frightened animals, seeking safety in flight.
  3. As an instance of this, I would cite General Sherman’s remarks upon the troops engaged in the first invasion of the Southern Confederacy, which terminated in the, for them, disastrous battle of Bull’s Run, all of which troops had had from sixty to ninety days’ training in camps of instruction: ‘We had good organization, good men, but no cohesion, no real discipline, no respect for authority, no real knowledge of war.’
  4. As a matter of history, it took two years before the armies of the North had reached such a condition that they could be classed as disciplined and efficient troops.
  5. The blood and treasure spent in those two years were in payment of the bill of unpreparedness at the breaking out of the war in 1861.
  6. The conditions existing in the two countries, Canada and the United States, are so similar that it will be well to guard in time against such a condition of affairs as Sherman describes. Supposing our forces were actually called out for service tomorrow, would any of Sherman’s remarks be applicable to them?
  7. The proposal to make military training compulsory at the public schools as a means of national defence is, of course, an excellent one, but more than rifle shooting and drill should be taught. It is not enough for a man to be a good rifle shot and to be efficient in drill; to be a good soldier he must be taught discipline and respect for authority. An army whose ranks have not had instilled into them the two latter qualities will certainly collapse in war, and it is the possession of these two qualities, in an eminent degree, by her soldiers that enabled recently a comparatively obscure and unknown nation to spring at one bound into the ranks of first-class military and naval powers.
  8. If our youth have thoroughly instilled into them obedience and respect for authority, as well as the use of the rifle and a knowledge of drill, a long step will be taken towards solving the problem of national defence.
  9. *I enclose marked, respectively, A. B and C, the reports of the inspectors of cavalry, artillery and engineers, and a report upon the condition of the Army Service Corps by the officer administering that body.
  • I have the honour to be, sir, Your obedient servant. B. H. VIDAL Brigadier-General, Inspector- General.




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