The Canadian Way of War: Serving the National Interest

By Colonel Bernd Horn | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
A Modicum of Professionalism:
The Canadian Militia in the Nineteenth Century

by John R. Grodzinski

If a country should maintain in time of peace, the military
establishment only which is required in time of peace, it would
keep up no military force at all. A military force is maintained in
time of peace as a preparation against a possible war, and it is an
admitted axiom that the most effective preparation against such
an emergency is to maintain in peace the skeleton of an army
which can be filled in and augmented when the occasion arrives.
A skeleton force representing a large army is far more valuable as
a precautionary measure in peace and at the same time far less
costly than a small army complete in all its parts would be. Of
such a skeleton army the General Staff and the officers form at
once the most essential and the least costly parts. Hence at the
termination of a war the reduction of expenditure is achieved
principally by the reduction of the rank and file; in a very small
degree only by the reduction of the Staff and Officers
.

— Colonel Patrick MacDougall,
Adjutant-General of the Canadian Militia, 1868

The spring and summer of 1815 were notable for the celebrations throughout the provinces of British North America. In March of that year, news of the negotiated end to the War of 1812 was confirmed, while during the summer came the joyful news that allied forces under the command of the duke of Wellington had defeated Napoleon Bonaparte once and for all at Waterloo. At Montreal and the few other major centres, victory parties, dinners, and balls were held.1

For the British and Canadian Regulars in Canada came the opportunity to ponder the return to peace, demobilization, and the civilian life, following a quarter-century of war. Their fame was lost in the shadows of Waterloo, “the greatest action of modern time,” which likely made

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