UBIQUE 150 Exhibit
UBIQUE 150 Exhibit
In 2021, the RCA Museum will celebrate UBIQUE 150 as part of meaningful local, regional, and national activities.  The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery designed the campaign to nurture the esprit de corps, celebrate our regimental heritage, and connect with Canadians.  The 150th anniversary of A and B Batteries’ founding creates an excellent opportunity to celebrate the unique history and heritage of the Royal Regiment. 
  1. Virtual 360 Exhibit: The RCA Museum will host a temporary exhibit that celebrates the 150th anniversary of A and B Batteries. These units were the first “full-time” or “regular” elements of the post-Confederation Canadian Army and represented a significant step in Canada’s evolution. The museum’s temporary exhibit will run until December 2021.  We will also present it as a virtual 360 exhibit with the link below. 
  2. UBIQUE 150 Interactive: The RCA Museum has also developed a pictorial interactive covering the last 150 years. We designed it as a touchscreen museum display, but COVID-19 changed our plans. We are now displaying it online as a photo interactive based on periods and sub-categories.  We hope you enjoy it with the link below.
Heritage Guns: We wanted to recognize the importance of the Canadian Artillery’s technological development over the past 150 years. Guns shifted from smaller mobile pieces to larger guns for indirect fire.  The guns incorporated the period’s technology, increasing firing rates, lethality, mobility, precision, and ranges. The guns are much more than the equipment to those who serve them.  The colours of the Regiment are also its guns.  Each gun bears the Cypher of the Sovereign and represents the strength and perseverance of the Regiment.  
We added six Heritage Gun Signs throughout the museum to showcase the guns. We also added links to the six guns below. 
Gunners of A Battery: In 2021, we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of A and B Batteries’ founding with the UBIQUE 150 events across Canada.  The original officers and men of A and B Batteries represent the first full-time and permanent Canadian military elements.  In 1871, the officers and men came from across Ontario and Quebec to complete garrison duties and train in gunnery science.  After training, they went back to militia units across Canada and spread what they had learnt.  Through the formation of A and B Batteries and the transfer of knowledge, the Canadian Artillery became much more ubiquitous in Canada.  Yet who were these original Gunners, and how did they help make the Canadian Artillery UBIQUE?
From the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, England and France at various times had Imperial soldiers in Canada.  A major military shift occurred in 1853-54 when most of the remaining British regulars left the Canadian colonies to fight in the Crimean War or to defend other colonial outposts.  In response, the Province of Canada passed the Militia Act of 1855, which authorized an active volunteer militia of up to 5,000 officers and men, including cavalry, field artillery, garrison artillery and infantry.  In 1867, the Confederation of Canada started the process of establishing a responsible government.  After Confederation, Canada as a self-governing nation, became responsible, in part, for national defence.  The formation of new batteries of artillery and schools of gunnery became part of this required contribution.  The first post-Confederation Militia Act of 1868 placed all the active militia on an equal footing.  By 1869, no less than 28 batteries of artillery existed across Canada.  
A Battery, circa 1870s.
In February 1870, the British started removing their Imperial troops from Canada which continued until November 1871.  On 20 October 1871, Militia Order 24 authorized raising two garrison artillery batteries in Kingston and Quebec.  The new units would provide for the care, protection, and maintenance of the two forts, perform garrison duties, and serve as gunnery schools.  When the British left, they also closed the artillery school that had operated since 1864.  The new garrison soldiers were also the students in the schools.  The new roles created full-time and regular responsibilities at the two garrisons in Kingston and Quebec.  Each battery had two divisions, the mounted field artillery with four 9 pounder smooth bore cannons, and the dismounted as garrison artillery with two 24 pounder smooth bore howitzers and dozens of older mounted 32 pound smooth bore cannons.  For both A and B Batteries, the school’s commander was an officer of the Royal Artillery qualified through Shoeburyness, England, seconded from the Imperial authorities.  He would oversee instruction, drill, and discipline at the school.  The first commanding officer of A Battery, Lt-Col (later Major-General, Sir) George A. French, was an energetic and imposing leader.  He obtained his Royal Artillery (RA) commission in 1860 and was an adjutant with the RA in Kingston from 1862-66.  Next to be appointed was the first surgeon at A Battery, O. S. Strange. 
A photo of Lt-Col George A. French.
An A Battery Officer, RCHA, 1913.
In 1871, the military districts of Ontario and Quebec requested volunteers, officers and men, in the active militia to join A and B Batteries for instruction and duty.  From the returns, they selected the top candidates.  Among the requirements was to be in good health, at least 5 foot 6 inches tall, and at least a 34-inch chest.  They also requested that they belong to the 1st or 2nd class of Canadian militia.  Upon arrival, they were to be examined by a medical officer.  The officers initially joined for the short course of instruction totalling three months, with a reduced pay rate of $1 per diem.  If they showed an aptitude for future military service, the school retained them for the long course for an additional nine months.  After passing the short course, they would pay them the entire allotted amount for a given rank.  In 1871-72, a captain received $2.82 per day, the assistant surgeon received $2.43, a battery sergeant major at $1, a sergeant at .80, a corporal at .70, a bombardier .60, and gunners at 50 cents a day.  In addition to the daily pay rate, each enlisted soldier received 1lb of meat and 1lb of bread.  They also received barrack accommodations, which included fuel for heat and light.  Those who had horses also received forage. 
The men signed up for 12 months of service.  After twelve months, both officers and men could leave and return to their prior active militia, or on the commandant’s recommendation, be retained indefinitely.  Most of these officers and men performed garrison duty and attended artillery training for approximately one year.  After the training, most of the soldiers would go back to their original militia units to transfer the skills they learned.  This system kept most officers and men for a short duration and returned them to their prior militia units.  It allowed for a steady flow of soldiers, which aided in spreading knowledge throughout Canada.  However, there was another group of gunners at A Battery that trained the soldiers.  Those who trained the incoming soldiers tended to stay at A Battery indefinitely as the first full-time and permanent militia elements.
A Battery Staff Sergeants and Sergeants, 1887.
The original soldiers who came to A Battery were not fresh recruits.  Many of the early men to join A Battery were ex-British regulars that had taken part in the Red River Expedition in 1870.  After the Wolseley Force disbanded, many decided to remain in Canada, while others came from British units that had disbanded or left Canada.  A Battery had 37 men who had served in the Imperial Army (WO’s and NCOs). who then enrolled in Ontario’s active militia.  The training provided modelled British gunnery principles and expectations, and the seasoned instructors ensured that the students did not receive inadequate training.  The men from A Battery came from many parts of Ontario.  Of the first 106 men, 63 came from the Kingston Field Battery, 19 from the Toronto Field Battery, and nine from the Wellington Field Battery.  Other batteries and garrison included: four men from the London Field Battery, three from the Ottawa Garrison Artillery, two from the St. Catharines Garrison Battery, one from the Hamilton Field Battery, four from the Toronto Garrison Battery, and one from the Cobourg Garrison Battery.  The point is that they came from far and wide to join A Battery.  They also were hand-picked, and the militia selected the best candidates. 
About half of the original contingent of A Battery came from the Kingston Field Battery.  It started as the Volunteer Militia Field Battery of Artillery in 1856.  The militia renamed it the Kingston Field Battery in 1894, then the 32nd Battery, CFA in 1920, which changed names again in the 1930s and 1940s.  In 1954, they joined with the 60th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA.  A significant portion came from the Toronto Field Battery.  There had been batteries of artillery in the Toronto region during the War of 1812.  They established the Volunteer Incorporated Artillery Company in 1813, which continued into the Rebellion of 1837-38.  With the Militia Act of 1855, the name changed to the Toronto Field Battery.  In 1895, they switched to the 9th Field Battery.  The 11th Field Regiment of Guelph also provided several new gunners.  In 1857, pre-existing military units became the 1st Wellington Battalion.  In 1866, the Guelph Garrison Battery became part of No. 1. Company of the 30th Wellington Battalion.  In 1871, it became independent and renamed the Wellington Field Battery. 
A photo of Canadian Militia with 9 Pounder RML, 1890s.
Many of the early gunners in A Battery would go on to have distinguished careers.  The first Adjutant, Captain William Henry Cotton, would be the Militia’s Inspector-General from 1912 to 1914.  Gunner Henry Walters was one of the first to join A Battery and became a professor at Morrin College in Quebec.  Another original member of A Battery was Josiah G. Holmes, who later founded C Battery in BC.  He went on to have a notable and distinguished military career.  Also, among the early A Battery Gunners was Major D. T. Irwin, who provided leadership and training at the school.  Irwin would succeed French and become the commanding officer of A Battery in 1873.
Samuel B. Steele was the only original non-officer recruit that became a Great Gunner.  Sam Steele was born in Ontario in 1849 and enlisted in the Simcoe Militia, joined the Wolseley expedition, and then enlisted in A Battery in 1871.  He was a physically fit, husky, six-footer and quick to master gunnery science.  In 1873, Steele left A Battery and joined the NWMP as the third man to enlist.  He participated in the Northwest Rebellion and organized a mounted force called the Steele Scouts under Major-General Strange.  He gained the title “Smooth Bore Steele” from his drilling days on the 9 Pounder SM at A Battery.  He led the Yukon detachment during the Klondike Gold Rush and commanded the Strathcona’s Horse during the Boer War.  The RCA Museum has the original Nominal Role of A Battery.  Sam Steele and his brother, Richard, signed with A Battery on 3 November 1871. 
A photo of Lt-Col C. T. Irwin.
A photo of MGen Sam Steele.
The first soldier The first soldier to sign the A Battery Nominal Role was Sergeant-Major John Mortimer on 25 October 1871.  Mortimer went on to be the chief assistant instructor and Sergeant Major at A Battery.  He came from Shoeburyness, England and was the first British instructor of Armstrong guns.  After 22 years of service with the British Artillery followed by compulsory retirement, he immigrated to Canada and enlisted in the Red River Force, then enrolling in A Battery.  Many of the 37 ex-British soldiers had completed their maximum 22 years of service before enlisting with the active Canadian militia.  A Battery had many first-class instructors, such as John Mortimer.  He gained his experience in the British Army and then passed this experience to A Battery’s active militia.  The recruits would take this knowledge back to militia units across Canada.  The schools of gunnery provided the framework for men such as Sergeant-Major John Mortimer to pass on his wealth of British military experience to Canadian Gunners.  Mortimer certainly deserves an honourable mention.
It took roughly three months for both batteries to get up to strength.  In March 1872, Kingston had one Captain, three Lieutenants, one assistant Surgeon, seven Sergeants, four Corporals, four Bombardiers, three Trumpeters, and 110 Gunners quartered in the “Tete-du-Pont” Barracks, for a total of 133 officers and men, not including Lt-Col French.  All the officers and men belonged to various militia corps and were attached to A Battery for instruction or education.  They gave instruction based on the rank in which they joined from their batteries.  They trained gunners to complete all the required duties within their allotted positions.  Of note, the Toronto detachment generally gets lost in the discussion about A and B Batteries.  A Battery also provided a party to Toronto.  These soldiers were permanent and full-time soldiers in Toronto.  The initial force included 1 Lieutenant, 1 Sergeant, 1 Corporal, 1 Bombardier, 1 Trumpeter, and twenty Gunners.
A 1871 RCA uniform with Coat of Arms.
A photo of A Battery with Winter Carriage in Kingston, 1887.
A Battery progressed quickly due to the strong leadership and the high quality of the officers and men.  From a report dated 10 January 1872, Lt-Col French wrote on A and B Batteries, “from what I have seen; I feel assured that their formation marks a distinct era in the history of the Canadian Artillery.”  He went on to state that each officer or gunner through training can “learn his duties in a thorough manner, by joining for a long or short period, and at whatever time of year may be most convenient for him.”  He reported that the conduct of his men was generally exemplary.  In 1874, non-commissioned ranks started to receive longer set periods of service with A Battery, for up to 3-years of service, with possible renewals of service.  As time went by, they added more permanent staff at A Battery.
In 1871, the Canadians wore almost the same uniform as the departed British Royal Artillery.  One exception was that the Canadians removed the word UBIQUE from their Coat of Arms.  UBIQUE was not worn on the Arms of Canadian Gunners in 1871 because they had not earned the right to wear it.  The militia displayed Arms following successive honours and distinctions bestowed upon them first by King William IV in 1832.  Batteries of artillery raised in the Province of Canada in 1855 and by A and B Batteries in 1871 wore the British Arms, except the word CANADA replaced the battle honours UBIQUE.  In 1925, King George V, to recognize and honour the Canadian Artillery’s substantial contribution during WW1, granted usage of the battle honours UBIQUE.  While becoming more ubiquitous, the Canadian Artillery added the motto UBIQUE to their Arms in 1926.  
A photo of the Canadian Field Artillery using a captured German howitzer at Vimy Ridge, 1917.
A photo of A Battery, RCHA, in Renfrew, Ontario, dated 3 June 1907.
The formation of A and B Batteries and the recruitment, instruction, and return of Gunners to their original units made the Canadian Artillery ubiquitous and everywhere – UBIQUE in Latin means everywhere.  Canadian Gunners earned the right to wear UBIQUE through their participation and sacrifice in WW1, and since then, they have worn it with pride, taking the place of past and future battle honours.  It is important to celebrate our military heritage.  The 150th celebration of A and B Batteries’ founding creates an excellent opportunity to celebrate the Regiment’s unique history and heritage.  Today, A and B Batteries of 1 RCHA continue to serve their nation as proud elements of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery.  The past reinforces the attributes of the Regiment and encourages new contributions.