Major-General “Dinky” Morrison was a leader in both civilian and military aspects of Canadian life; for the greater portion of his life, he served both worlds as “Citizen-Soldier”.
Born in London, Ontario, on 6 July 1867, he was a journalist by profession and was for sixteen years, the Editor-in-Chief of the Ottawa Citizen. He devoted a large measure of his energies to the advancement of the Militia Force. His military careet began with his appointment as a Second Lieutenant with Hamilton’s 4th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery. He distinguished himself early in his career attaining extraordinarily high marks during artillery training.
As a subaltern with “D” Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA) in the South African War he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for conspicuous courage and leadership in saving the guns at Leliefontein on 7 November 1900. Upon his repatriation to Canada he returned to his civilian career and to his service with the Militia Force. He was appointed Brevet Captain and served in various capacities for the next decade.
When the Canadian Contingent was raised for service in the First World War, Lieutenant-Colonel Morrison, now the Director of Artillery, convinced the Minister of National Defence that the Divisional Artillery should be composed of existing units rather than, as was first proposed, from men drawn from across the entire Dominion. This action kept officers, non-commissioned officers and men together; this regard for homogeneity greatly enhanced the efficiency of the artillery in the Canadian Contingent.
Having declined the appointment of Divisional Artillery Commander in favour of Lieutenant-Colonel H.E. Burstall, who because of training and experience Morrison considered better fitted to the appointment, he accepted the command of the 1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. Later, in September 1915 he was promoted to Brigadier-General and assumed the appointment of Brigadier-General Royal Artillery, 1st Canadian Divisional Artillery. On 2 October he assumed the same appointment with the newly arrived 2nd Canadian Divisional Artillery. Just more than one year later, in December 1916, he became the General Officer Commanding the Royal Artillery, the Canadian Corps. He was promoted Major-General in July 1918 and knighted the following year.
Major-General Morrison was first, last and always a gunner. From the time he began his military career as a young man, he was an earnest student of artillery, training and tactics. His abilities as a leader and as a gunner were evidenced by the sustained efficiency and excellent shooting of all units under his command. His work with the Artillery of the Canadian Corps in the great series of battles from Vimy Ridge until the Armistice confirmed his stature as a remarkable artillery commander.
In the reorganized post-war Permanent Active Militia, Major-General Morrison held successive appointments as Deputy Inspector General of Artillery, Master General of Ordnance and Adjutant General. He retired in 1924 as a result of ill-health and died at age 58 in the following year.
Major-General Morrison was the epitome of a Citizen-Soldier. His concerns for his country and belief that service to one’s Sovereign was the duty of every citizen, provided a bench mark for future Canadians.