3rd Regiment Victoria Rifles of Canada & C.E.F. 14 BATT., History in Brief 1861 – 1914.

3rd Regiment Victoria Rifles of Canada: — The Victoria Rifles Company was formed on September 20, 1861, from the members of the Beaver Lacrosse Club, with Lieut. W. Osborne Smith as its captain. On December 13, 1861, the number was increased to 300, and the organization was named the Victoria Volunteer Rifles, and formed into a battalion of six companies. In April, 1903, the establishment was increased to eight companies, 402 in all ranks, and in 1912 further increased to 547, which is its present establishment on a peace footing. On December 17, 1861, the Regiment was organized and its first by-laws adopted. The first parade of the Regiment was held on the Champ de Mars, on December 19, the battalion being drilled by and under the command of the late Lieut.-Col. W. Osborne Smith. During the winter of 1861-62, the Regiment paraded three afternoons and three evenings each week on the Champ de Mars and in Bonsecours Market. On June 10, 1862, the Regiment was formally enrolled as part of the Canadian Militia and placed under the command of Lieut.-Col. W. Osborne Smith, and this was confirmed by General Order issued by Militia Headquarters on June 18 of that year. Lieut.-Col. W. Osborne Smith died in Wales in 1887. On August 15, 1879, the name of the Regiment was changed from Victoria Volunteer Rifles to the “3rd Regiment Victoria Rifles of Canada,” which designation it bears at the present time.

3rd Battalion Victoria Rifles of Canada, with Colours, 1863.

3rd Battalion Victoria Rifles of Canada, with Colours, 1863.

On August 30, 1862, the Regiment paraded on the old Montreal Cricket Grounds, where it was presented with colours by the Ladies of Montreal. These colours are now hung in the Church of St. James the Apostle, where they were deposited on November 17, 1901, after it had been decreed that Rifle Regiments should no longer carry colours with them. On December 25, 1864, a company of the Victoria Volunteer Rifles, under Captain McGraw, went to Windsor, Ont., to help repel a threatened invasion by the Fenians.

On March 10, 1866, the entire Regiment paraded with the other units of the Montreal Brigade of Militia, which at that time turned out 2,500 strong, owing to rumors of an advance of the Fenians on Montreal. On March 15, a company of the Regiment, under Captain McDougall, left for Lachine, where they remained on duty till April 3, the other five companies doing their tour of duty at the Armoury, which was then situated on Victoria Square. On April 12, a company of the Regiment was sent to Cornwall, the balance of the Regiment again doing guard duty in the city. On June 1 and 2, the entire Regiment left for Hemmingford and Huntingdon, Que., on account of a massing of the Fenians at St. Albans, and remained on duty until June 18. On May 24, 1870, on the occasion of the second Fenian Raid, a special service company from the Regiment, under Captain J. W. Crawford, Lieut. E. B. Greenshields, and Ensign J. K. Oswald, were ordered to the front for immediate service. The following day the remaining five companies, under the command of Major E. A. Whitehead, were ordered to the front and embarked at Point St. Charles for St. Armand, Que. On the Fenians attacking the forces at Eccles Hill, the Victoria Rifles were ordered to that point and took part in the repulse of the Fenians. For their part in this engagement Her Majesty was pleased to grant the Regiment the honour of having the words “Eccles Hill” stamped on their helmet plates and on their colours. The Regiment returned home on May 31. The Regiment has also been called out for duty on various occasions, amongst which may be mentioned November 6, 1875, when it formed a guard during the Guibord Riots, and subsequently marched to the cemetery when the burial of Guibord took place.

No. 1 Co., 3rd Battalion Victoria Rifles of Canada, on return from Fenian Raid, Montreal, QC, 1870.

No. 1 Co., 3rd Battalion Victoria Rifles of Canada, on return from Fenian Raid, Montreal, QC, 1870.

On July 12 and 16, 1877, they were again on duty to quell a threatened disturbance in connection with the Orange Procession. On June 12, 1878, they again paraded and were ordered to Quebec to assist in quelling the Ship Laborers’ riots, returning to Montreal on June 15. On July 12, the same year, they were again called out in connection with Orange Procession disturbances. On March 28, 1885, the Regiment was “next for duty” for service in the North-West Rebellion, and was ordered to holditself in readiness to proceed to the front. The rebellion was over before they had an opportunity to take part in it, although recruited up to war strength. On October 3, the same year, it was again on duty at the temporary Mount Royal Hospital grounds (the old Exhibition Building) in aid of the civil power. This was during the Smallpox Riots. While on duty, one of the men of the Regiment, Private J. H. Samuels of No. 3 Company, was shot and killed through the accidental discharge of a rifle in the hands of one of the men onguard duty. A monument to his memory was erected on October 9, 1890, and now stands in Mount Royal Cemetery. In 1886, it was decided that the Regiment would build an Armoury, as they were then using the Fraser Institute Hall, which was not at all suitable for the purpose; and, through the generosity of Officers, N.C. Officers and men at that time in the Regiment and their many friends in the City of Montreal, their wishes were realized. Ground on Cathcart Street, near the corner of University Street, where the Armoury now stands, was purchased, and on December 4, 1886, the corner stone was laid by Sir A. P. Caron, K.C.M.G., Minister of Militia, Lieut. -Col. J. W. Crawford being then in command. The Armoury was formally opened on June 21 of the following year. This Armoury was built without obtaining any assistance whatever from the Government, and is owned entirely by the Victoria Rifles Association, composed of members, ex-members, and the original contributors to the building fund.

In October 1899, on the breaking out of the South African War, 67 members of the Regiment volunteered for active service abroad and served in various contingents, distinguishing themselves particularly at the battle of Paardeburg, on February 18, 1900, and at Hart’s River, on March 31, 1902. Private H. S. Mitchell of No. 3 Company, after the war, was offered a commission in the British Army, and was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the Middlesex Regiment. In this war, the Regiment was fortunate in losing only 5 of its members, Privates Harry Cotton, G. H. Bolt, C. H. Barry, A. R. Kingsley, and G. S. Racey, in memory of whom a brass tablet was erected in the -Church of St. James the Apostle. In the fall of 1902, the Regiment was again on duty at Valleyfield in connection with the strike of the cotton mill hands, and remained for ten days. The last duty of this kind was n connection with the Longshoremen’s Strike, at Montreal, in April 1903, when the Regiment was quartered on the wharf guarding the sheds and property of the H. & A. Allan Steamship Company.

3rd Bn., or Regt., Victoria Rifles of Canada group photo, ca 1900.

3rd Bn., or Regt., Victoria Rifles of Canada group photo, ca 1900.

The Regiment has always taken a great interest in rifle shooting, and has been well represented at all Provincial and Dominion meetings, and has had representatives at many of the National Rifle Association Matches at Bisley, amongst which occasions may be mentioned the year 1906 when it was represented by Sergt. J. Drysdale, with Lieut.-Col. E. W. Wilson in command of the Bisley Team; 1907, represented by Captain Pope; 1908, by Private Eastcott; 1909, by Corp. G. Copping; and 1913, by Private J. Boa. In 911, Major W. W. Burland was Adjutant of the Bisley Team. Following are the names of the various Lieut. -Colonels commanding the Regiment since its organization up to the present time, with dates on which they took command:-

  • William Osborne Smith Jan. 31, 1862
  • Augustus Reward June 15, 1866
  • Hartland S. MacDougall Nov. 16, 1866
  • William Henry Button Nov. 22, 1867
  • Angus R. Bethune July 19, 1870
  • Nathaniel J. Handyside Aug. 24, 1873
  • Edward Ashworth Whitehead June 6, 1876
  • John Molson Crawford Oct. 3, 1884
  • Charles Peers Davidson April 7, 1887
  • Fred. Clarence Henshaw July 15, 1887
  • George Ritchie Starke June 10, 1892
  • Edwin Botsford Busteed Sept. 10, 1897
  • George Arthur Sicotte Hamilton July 23, 1900
  • Erastus Winans Wilson Sept. 25, 1903
  • Robert Starke June 5, 1907
  • Frank William Fisher Sept. 7, 1909
  • W. Watt Burland Dec. 9, 1912
  • Fred. A. de L. Gascoigne Dec. 8, 1914

To these should be added: Hon. Colonel The Right Hon. D. A. Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., gazetted 10 January, 1898; and Hon. Lieut. -Col., Colonel E. A. Whitehead, gazetted January 30, 1912, both of whom have since died, the former in January 1914 and the latter September 7, 1912.

The Royal Montreal Regiment traces its origins to August, 1914 as part of country’s response to the outbreak of war. The “1st Regiment, Royal Montreal Regiment” was raised by the amalgamation of several companies of each of three existing Montreal Militia Regiments: The 1st Regiment, Canadian Grenadier Guards (372 men and 12 officers); The 3rd Regiment, Victoria Rifles of Canada (355 men and 12 officers), and the 65th Regiment, Carabiniers Mont-Royal (276 men and 8 officers). As the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) was organized by the Minister of Militia, the RMR was re-designated as the 14th Battalion (RMR), part of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division. 983 men and 32 officers departed Montreal as the RMR, bound for Valcartier, QC for further training and reinforcement.

  • Source: Call To Arm’s Montreal Roll Of Honour, 1914.
CEF 14th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Regt., Victoria Rifles Nominal Roll for Sept., 1914.

CEF 14th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Regt., Victoria Rifles Nominal Roll for Sept., 1914.

CEF 14th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Regt., Victoria Rifles of Canada Nominal Roll for Sept., 1914.

CEF 14th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Regt., Victoria Rifles of Canada Nominal Roll for Sept., 1914.

3rd Regiment Victoria Rifles of Canada with Maxim Machine Gun, at Montreal, Mont-Royal Park, 1893.

3rd Regiment Victoria Rifles of Canada with Maxim Machine Gun, at Montreal, Mont-Royal Park, 1893.


2nd Battalion.

  • 1st Infantry Regt. (Montreal, P.Q.)
  • 3rd ” ” (Montreal, P.Q.)
  • 4th ” ” (Ste. Anne de la Perade. P.Q.)
  • 8th ” ” (Quebec, P.Q.)
  • 9th ” ” (Quebec, P.Q.)
  • 17th ” ” (Levis, P.Q.)
  • 18th ” ” (Chicoutimi, P.Q.)
  • 61st ” ” (Montmagny, P.Q)
  • 64th ” ” (Beauharnois, P.Q.)
  • 65th ” ” (Montreal, P.Q.)
  • 80th ” ” (Nicolet, P.Q.)
  • 83rd ” ” (Town of Joliette, P.Q.)
  • 84th ” ” (St. Hyacinthe, P.Q.)
  • 85th ” ” (Montreal, P.Q.)
  • 89th ” ” (Saint Germain de Rimouski, P.Q.)
  • 92nd ” ” (St. Isidore, P.Q.)

By September’s reshuffling, adding battalions, the 1st, 3rd, and 65th from Montreal were designated to C.E.F. 14th Inf., BATT., Battalion.

Victoria Rifles. Valcartier, CEF 14th Provisional Battalion 3rd Sept. 1914.

Victoria Rifles. Valcartier, C.E.F. 14th Provisional Infantry Battalion 3rd Sept. 1914.






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