Boer War Page 33

Great Canadian Boer War Post Cards


Henry Burr (1885-1941): "Silver Threads Among the Gold" 1915

You are listening to an original recording from the early 1900s featuring one of Canada's very first recording artists, Henry Burr, singing one of the most popular songs of the time, "Silver Threads Among the Gold." Henry Burr from New Brunswick, started recording in 1902 while in his teens, and with some 12,000 recordings to his credit, was the most prolific recording artist of his generation. The song was sung with great longing in camps were boredom and the war seemed terminal.

Technical Note: To turn off this recording, use a hammer on the front of your monitor.


Camp Niagara

Great Canadian Armouries 1899 - A Great Canadian Tragedy 1960s

Canada had no real standing army or navy of its own at the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War in 1899. So with the popular clamour for doing something to help "The Queen and Empire," volunteers had to be recruited from civvy street. Many of these were militiamen, who spent an evening a week, or weeks in summer, training in regional armouries or camps like Camp Niagara.
Left is the wonderful armouries that stood in the heart of downtown Toronto. On parade is the Queen's Own Rifles. The regiment did not serve in the Boer War but several members signed up to join Canada's First Contingent, the Royal Canadian Regiment.

Below its members show off their Maxim machine gun detachment, several of which accompanied the RCRs to South Africa.

The Maxim was easy to identify because of its extremely thick water-cooled housing which surrounded its barrel to dissipate the tremendous heat generated from hundreds of bullets fired in rapid succession.

A Canadian Tragedy: Sadly this phenomenally beautiful example of Toronto's early architectural wealth was torn down in the 1960's by greedy developers in cahoots with city fathers who conveniently looked the other way as the bulldozers went to work.

Above a QOR militia wedge cap of the kind Canadian militiamen wore while training for the "home guard" in the late 19th century. Canada had no standing army of its own so the militia - part time soldiers who trained evenings or in the summer - were expected to protect Canada in case of another Fenian attack from the United States. Right "Andrews" to whom the cap apparently belonged. Very likely he is in one of the pictures above, though he is a bit hard to make out.

If you have any information about him - dates of service, life or death - please let us know.


Rare Antique Canadian Postcards
In countless armouries - like the one in St. Catharines below - Canadian volunteers across Canada signed up to join the Great Adventure. The group right - from Selkirk, ON, probably trained in this very building. William Knisley, top left, would find fame, but never return from his second tour to South Africa.
(Postcard found in Woodstock, ON)
Canadian Anglo-Boer War Postcards: Coloured postcards featuring Canadian Anglo-Boer War memorials were common subjects for years after the war was over. In numerous towns across Canada, it was a severe shock when one or two local boys left for Africa, and never returned. Subscriptions raised money to put up statues in honour of their lost sons. The one below, is in London, ON. (Found in Woodstock, ON)

Windsor,ON: Right, Pvt. Walter White who fell heroically at Paardeberg, and is remembered by the Anglo-Boer War memorial in Windsor, ON below.
Cayuga, ON: At Cayuga, Ontario (left and above), William Knisley, the hero of Leliefontein and Hart's River, has gazed out from in front of the Courthouse for one hundred years. (Found in Paris, ON)
Granby, PQ: Left, the statue of Gunner William Latimer, erected in his memory by the grateful citizens of Granby, Quebec. (Found in Oregon, US)

Above, historian John Goldi stands on the spot where Latimer died - the first battlefield casualty of the Royal Canadian Artillery - as he serviced the Canadian guns firing on the Boers beyond the stone kraal during a dawn attack at Faber's Put.

Brantford, ON: Right, two rare postcards of the memorial outside the armouries in Brantford. (Found in Oregon, US)

It was in armouries like these, across Canada, that Canadian militiamen and volunteers trained before going overseas.

At the end of the war it seemed like the perfect place to set up statues to honour the fallen heroes who never returned. Brantford had three local sons to memorialize, which they did with huge plaques with relief images on three sides, showing the battles in which each man died.

Norman Builder (above) was only 22 when he died at Leliefontein and lies buried in Belfast, South Africa.

JW Osborne (right), lies buried in the mass grave at Spion Kop among hundreds of his British comrades of the Scottish Rifles at whose side he fought and died..

The third man William Sherrit, died at Boschbult Farm and was buried on the spot shown by historian John Goldi, right.

Toronto, ON: At the same spot across University Avenue, where the Welcome Arch greeted the returning soldiers to Toronto in 1900, (left), showing the Parliament Buildings in the distance, the Boer War Memorial would be built to honour the men who fought and died (below left and right).
When Toronto's University Avenue was still beautiful! The biggest memorial was built in Toronto (above and right) and placed on a boulevard of trees and great homes looking up towards Queen's Park Parliament buildings (in the distance). But WT Manion (right) would not be back to see it. He lies buried at Paardeberg.

Today the monument is surrounded only by towering canyons of ugly concrete, snarls of roaring traffic, and not a tree in sight. (Found in Oregon, US)

Halifax, NS: Left, the monument in Halifax. Local lore has it that the man who posed for the statue, walked by it every day for the rest of his life.

Montreal, PQ: Perhaps the most spectacular monument is that of Lord Strathcona's Horse in Montreal (below).

Quebec, PQ: Below at Quebec, hardly a stone's throw from where the eager volunteers last paraded before Prime Minister Laurier as he saw them off, is the "Monument des Enfants de Quebec morts pour L'Empire dans L'Afrique du Sud," to the sons of Quebec who died for the British Empire in South Africa, all too many of whom would never return.

But none could have dreamed of the carnage to come just a few years later.

The Anglo-Boer War was the last war, in which community statues and busts were erected to individual soldiers. It was still economical to do, with only one or two fatalities coming from a region of several towns. And in their communal grief, the shock of losing a single life roused the people to donate the funds that were needed.

After the horrendous carnage of World War I, only group memorials - featuring at best, an anonymous statue - made any sense anymore. Whereas in the Anglo-Boer War only communities sorrowed, during the Great War to come, virtually every home grieved for a family member, relative, or friend.

On future memorials, the dead were now simply reduced to lists of dozens and scores of names on plaques.

Do you have another postcard or picture we could put on this page?

c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000