Montreal Gazette, 3 July 1871, page 2.


Dominion Day

Doings in the City – Inspection of Grand Trunk Brigade – Picnics of Caledonian and St Patrick’s Societies – Inspection of the Fire Brigade – The Camp – Excursions – Fine Weather and much enjoyment

If ever the clerk of the weather was gracious to a perspiring community anxious on the occasion of a holiday to escape from the heat, dust and monotony of everyday life in the city, to fly away from pens and ink, blotters and blotting paper, from the manufactory and the workshop, to breathe the fresh air of the river and witness the green woods of the country, he was gracious to the inhabitants of Montreal on Dominion Day. There was never a holiday in Canada finer; there could hardly be finer weather for a holiday anywhere. All day the blue sky was unclouded, and a cool breeze blew, making the atmosphere balmy and refreshing.  It was Queen’s weather, and the world and his wife, who had made up their minds to make a day of it either in or out of the city, were in the most amiable of humour. Best bonnets and dresses were produced and donned without the slightest hesitation, paterfamilias was seen abroad without his umbrella, and it is averred that the nervous man actually stopped from the threshold of his door without once gazing upwards. The city was gay with bunting and looked as it always done on such occasions, as handsome and inviting as any city on a holiday could be expected to look. The excursions from the city were legion, in number, and every one was attended by immense crowds. The camp at Laprairie was one of the chief attractions and many a well-filled basket was conveyed by loving hands to a brave son or brother in her Majesty’s uniform, and browned by exposure and strengthened by drill, converted into a very warrior. Although a multitude poured out of the city and vicinity, and to witness the inspections of the Grand Trunk Volunteer Brigade in the morning and the Fire Brigade in the afternoon, detailed accounts of which are given in their order below.


A fitting inauguration of the day’s proceedings was the inspection, by the Adjutant General, accompanied by Lieutenant General Sir Hastings Doyle, of the splendid battalions composing the Grand Trunk Brigade.  About half-past nine o’clock the Brigade, composed of six batteries of Garrison Artillery, five companies of Rifles, and one company of Engineers – the whole under command of Lieutenant Colonel Bailey; the Artillery headed by their fine Instrumental band, and the rifles by their five and drum band, marched from the Brigade Armoury, Point St Charles, through the city, on to the Champ de Mars, with a step and bearing that would not have been discreditable to a regular regiment. The Brigade having halted wheeled into line, with bands in rear, and awaited the arrival of the Adjutant-General, Colonel Robertson Ross, who soon made his appearance, accompanied by Lieutenant General Sir Hastings Doyle and his Aide-de-Camp, Captain Black, and was received by his usual general salute. At the saluting base were assembled Hugh Allan Esq., Lieut. Stevenson, and Lieut. Col. McPherson.  A little later and the party were joined by Deputy Adjutant General Colonel Osborne Smith, who arrived from the camp at Laprairie.


The salute over, the Brigade was formed into companies of open column, right in front. Each man in every company was then minutely inspected by the Adjutant General.  At the conclusion of the inspection the Brigade was again wheeled into line, when the command was given to fire a


Which was very creditably done, considering the little practice volunteers have in this kind of firing; the general salute followed, the bands playing the national anthem and after which three rousing cheers were given for the Queen by the troops, and all honor was done the day.


The Brigade was then formed into column of companies right in front, and marched past with rifles at the shoulder. The wheeling of the artillery was magnificent as was their marching past; the rifles were not quite so steady but they also wheeled and marched past more like regulars than a volunteer regiment.  The Brigade then countermarched by ranks and marched past again at quarter distance, with rifles at the trail, in admirable style.


The Brigade again formed out line when a company of the rifles was extended as skirmishers and began a lively fire, but soon retreated loading and firing as they fell back. Meanwhile the line retired down the slope of the Champs de Mars on the Craig Street side where they awaited their turn to be called into action, which soon came, for the skirmishers having succeeded in drawing on the enemy laid down, and the whole line advanced, passed the skirmishers and began by independent file firing, the front rank kneeling, pouring into the enemy a terrific fire.  For a time there was all the smoke and roar of horrid conflict, fortunately without the bullets to make it deadly.  A good idea could be had from the constant roar of rifles from one end of the line to the other of the terribly destructive nature of the Snider-Enfield Rifles. Although in the hands of volunteers, who are not supposed to be able to fire and load with the same coolness and rapidity as regulars, yet the deadly fire from the time it began until the bugle sounded ‘cease-firing’ never flagged; with bullets the fire would have been simply a mass of lead poured into the ranks of an enemy, a murderous butchering fire before which it would be almost impossible for any living thing to stand.

The enemy being annihilated the bands took up their positions and the troops marched off the ground to martial music, and thus concluded one of the most successful military displays there has been since the regular soldiers left the city.

The Adjutant General, accompanied by the Deputy Adjutant General, at the conclusion of the inspection galloped to the Laprairie ferry steamer, en route for the camp.

The fife and drum band of the rifles, it was noticed wore the Glengarry Bonnet, which is the new regulation forage cap soon to be served to all the volunteers.

An immense concourse of people viewed the display with great delight and satisfaction.