1871 > History

The 1st Medium Regiment, operating the 5.5-Inch gun, England, 1942.

The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery

Canadian Gunners have a long and distinguished record of contribution. In 1880, Queen Victoria approved the designation of "Royal" for the batteries and gunnery schools.

In 1883, Canada authorized the formation of the Regiment of Canadian Artillery. In 1893, the Regular units became the Royal Canadian Artillery, and in 1895, the Reserve units joined. The Regiment became the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery in 1956. The name changed to The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery in 1997.

Gunners served in the North-West Rebellion (1885) and the South African War (1899-1902). They served in the First World War (1914-1918) and the Second World War (1939-1945).

They later served in the Korean War (1950-1953) and West Germany during the Cold War (1951-1992). They served in the 1st Gulf War (1990-1991), Operations in Afghanistan (2001-2014), and many peacekeeping operations.

Today, the Regiment is in 33 communities across Canada and includes Regular and Reserve units.


The Early Years

The history of the Canadian militia covers hundreds of years. In 1534, Jacques Cartier fired the first artillery along the Atlantic coast. Since then, colonists served in the militias of New France and British North America.

In 1793, the Loyal Company of Artillery formed in Saint John, New Brunswick. This unit exists today as the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, RCA. The War of 1812 and the Rebellions of 1837-38 helped promote new militia units.

The Crimean War (1853-1856) resulted in fewer British Regulars in British North America. The Canadian Legislator passed the Militia Act of 1855, which authorized a volunteer militia of up to 5,000, including batteries of artillery, equipped and trained at government expense.

In 1855, the militia formed five volunteer artillery batteries in Hamilton, Kingston, Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec City. They were the first Reserve or Non-Permanent Active Militia units.


The Founding of A & B Batteries

In 1871, Britain withdrew most of the remaining British Regulars, which pushed the Canadian government to establish permanent and full-time militia units.

General Order No. 24, dated 20 October 1871, authorized the formation of A and B Batteries of Garrison Artillery and gunnery schools. Non-Permanent Militia Gunners transferred to the newly formed batteries.

A Battery staffed Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario, under Commanding Officer, Lt-Col French. B Battery occupied the Citadel in Quebec City, Quebec, under Commanding Officer, Lt-Col Strange, who became the father of the Canadian Artillery.

In 1887, Canada raised C Battery in Esquimalt, British Colombia. In 1905, Canada created the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. In WW1, they became part of the RCHA Brigade, and in WW2, they formed part of the 1st Field Regiment, RCHA.