1902 > History

Photo of RCA, circa the 1890s.
Garrison and Coastal Artillery

In 1871, the Canadian Artillery included Field Artillery and Garrison Artillery. Garrison troops assumed responsibility for coastal defence, garrison, and siege artillery.

The Department of Militia established the Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery in 1893. Artillery competitions proved a welcome relief from militia training and guard duty. Gunners competed for positions on teams representing Canada in England.

In 1924, the RCGA dropped the word "Garrison" from its title. They became batteries of the Royal Canadian Artillery. During the two world wars, it was their duty to remain behind and defend Canada.

Coastal defence assumed renewed importance during the Second World War. Submarine and air warfare became a real threat. Every available gun went into service, even old 6-pounders from the late 19th century.


The North-West Rebellion 1885

The rebellion pitted the Metis people and First Nations against the Canadian government. The Metis and First Nations invited Louis Riel to lead them.

Hostilities began in March 1885. A band of Metis led by Gabriel Dumont clashed with the North-West Mounted Police at Duck Lake. The call went out to A and B Batteries, and soon the Gunners were moving westward. By April 1885, the two batteries had joined Major-General Middleton's forces.

A Battery engaged Riel's forces at Fish Creek and Batoche. The Alberta Field Force, under Major-General T. B. Strange, fought the Metis at Frenchman's Butte.

The Battle of Batoche (9 May to 12 May 1885) resulted in the defeat of the Metis and First Nations. The Canadian government executed Louis Riel for treason. The rebellion and execution of Louis Riel remain controversial topics.

Photo of RCA, 1900.

The South African War 1899-1902

War broke out in South Africa between the British and Boer in 1899. Canada provided a volunteer force to aid the British. Among the volunteers were three batteries of Field Artillery – C, D, and E Batteries.

C Battery helped relieve Colonel Robert Baden-Powell's Garrison under siege at Mafeking. D Battery helped save the 12 Pounder guns during the Battle of Leliefontein, while E Battery assisted with the liberation of Douglas on the Vaal River.

The Boers had changed how the British deployed Artillery on the battlefield. They no longer expected an adversary to duel over open sights. The Boers used concealment, long-range fire, and harassing fire to their advantage.

By December 1900, the three Canadian artillery batteries departed South Africa. The Boers surrendered on 31 May 1902. Canada lost a total of 270 troops during the South African War.

RCA uniform, circa the 1900s.