Merry Season through the Ranks

Merry Season through the Ranks

BY Georgiana Stanciu, PhD

‘Tis the Season to search for Christmas cards and greetings in our collection. Sent or received by the RCR, the greeting cards selected for this Story span from 1898 to 1923. They are unique composite images, making reference to the history of the unit. They are in provenance of The RCR Collection, with one exception which is the card donated by.... 

Christmas ("Rule, Britannia" Style), 1898

This greeting card is one of the very few period images displaying the designation “Royal Regiment of Canadian Infantry.” The prefix “Royal” had been authorized to the regiments composing the Permanent Militia of Canada in 1894. Our unit would be known as the “Royal Regiment of Canadian Infantry” for the next seven years.
Rather long, this designation is, if not overlayed, at least integrated, in this image. This image is common at that time, a real statement of the Bristish Empire as world superpower expressedalso in the famous song “Rule, Britannia!é” The song implies that the Royal Navy was the engine behind the superior domination, and the artist felt compelled to add the silhouettes of two Army soldiers, dressed in tropical and in arctic gear, an obvious hint to how widely the Empire extends across the Globe.
If the author of the iconic crowned lion holding the Globe within his grasp is identified only as J.H.K., we know at least that the card-photograph was produced in the photo studio of George Albert Burkhardt (1856-1941), an American photographer active in Fredericton, NB. At that time, No. 4 Regimental Depot was stationed there.

DATE: 1898
DONATED BY: The RCR Collection
OBJECT ID: RCRM2021.001.0177a

Greetings from Other Royal Canadians, 1898

The Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) was an infantry unit in the British Army, largely raised in Ireland. It was active between 1881 and 1922. The 1st Battalion of this regiment was on garrison duty in 1898, to one of the Empire’s outposts: Halifax, NS.
This greeting card is made of several group photos summarizing the year activities while depicting people of the unit and other elements such as the insignia merged to the Canadian beaver and the wishes interlaced to various images. The card was created in the Notman Studios of Halifax, NS, in 1898.

DATE: 1898
DONATED BY: The RCR Collection
OBJECT ID: RCRM2007

Dawson City, 1899

The Yukon Field Force was formed to support the civil power in maintaining law and order during the Klondike Gold Rush (March 1898). Composed of 203 officers and men, cavalry, artillery and infantry, the unit included three officers plus 130 non-commissioned officers and men from the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry. Based at Fort Selkirk, the unit had 72 men in Dawson City, capital-city of the newly formed Territory (June 1898).

These two Christmas cards are clearly depicting the detachment from Dawson City. They seem to represent the officers, on the first card, and the NCOs with their troops, on the second card, even if it is to judge by the larger crowd shown in the latter or the more comfortable-looking residence in the background of the former.

The photo-cards were manufactured by Larss & Duclos, a partnership between Per Edward Larss and Joseph E.N. Duclos who began their enterprise of taking photographs around Dawson City, in summer 1898.

Greetings from the Yukon, 1899

Greetings from the Yukon, 1899

DATE: 1899
DONATED BY: The RCR Collection
OBJECT ID: RCRM2007

Greetings from the Yukon, 1899

Greetings from the Yukon, 1899

DATE: 1899
DONATED BY: The RCR Collection
OBJECT ID: RCRM2021.001.0177b

Greetings from the Yukon, 1899 (detail)

Greetings from the Yukon, 1899 (detail)

Yukon Field Force, 1899

 

DATE: 1899
DONATED BY: The RCR Collection
OBJECT ID: RCRM2021.001.0177c

Garrison Halifax, 1900

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, The Royal Regiment of Canadian Infantry was not only serving in South Africa, but also raised 1,004 all ranks, known as the 3rd Special Service Battalion. The unit took over garrison duties in Halifax, NS, from the 1st Battalion, Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment, called to arms in the Boer War. The 3rd Special Service Battalion was disbanded in 1902, but the General Officer Commanding Canadian Militia reported that “the service to the state [British Empire] was as important as if the battalion had proceeded to South Africa.”
Their 1900 Christmas card seems to follow the model from the Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians), with a composite image featuring several groups within the unit, such as the the officers surmounting an image of the entire battalion in front of Wellington Barracks, the snowy gates of Garrison Halifax or the ceremonial pose of the bandsmen. The elaborate insignia at the top is very unique and shows a simplified designation, Royal Canadian Regiment which will be formally acknowledged one year later, in 1901.
Although the photographer markings cannot be found on this card, it is likely that it was produced by Notman Studios of Halifax.

DATE: 1900
DONATED BY: The RCR Collection
OBJECT ID: RCRM2016.020.0005

History and Christmas, 1903

The Christmas card designed in 1903 by No. 4 Company, Royal Canadian Regiment, in Halifax, NS, seems a very ambitious project, with the image capturing a 20-year history of the Regiment at that point. Signed "Pc. Kidston/Cpl No.4 Coy/R.C.R.", on the right, just under the flag, several scenes related to the North West Field Force (1885), and the South African War (1900) are peared to the 3rd Special Service Battalion on garrison duty in Halifax. The monarch's portrait, Edward VII, surmounts the entire ensemble.
The regimental Colours are dominant probably because the image was created not long after the Regiment had been presented the first set of Colours in 1901, in Toronto. In 1903, the said Colours were in England to be embroidered with Battle Honours Northwest Canada and South African War.
The photographic print may have been produced by the Notman Studios of Halifax, but in the absence of markings and/or relevant documentation, it remains just an assumption.

DATE: 1903
DONATED BY: The RCR Collection
OBJECT ID: RCRM2021.001.0177c

Compliments of the Royal Canadian Regiment, 1905

 

 

DATE: 1905
DONATED BY: The RCR Collection
OBJECT ID: RCRM2021.001.0177f

Greetings from Regimental HQ, 1908

The Royal Candian Regiment took over Halifax Garrison in 1905, where six companies and Headquarters (HQ) were established. In 1908, a Christmas card was produced, another composite image reuniting various aspects of day-to-day life with group photos including officers, non-commissioned officers, and bandsmen. All images assembled by Notman Studios in this card exist as separate photographs, produced between 1906 and 1908, some shown below. Holidays motifs were added, and most importantly, the regimental insignia showing VRI (Queen Victoria's royal cypher) on the eight-pointed star as cap badge and a set of collar badges in the shape of a Canadian beaver with the scroll reading Pro Patria underneath.

DATE: 1908
DONATED BY: The RCR Collection
OBJECT ID: RCRM2007

"K" Company, 1913

"K" Company of The Royal Canadian Regiment created another composite image including six images of the personnel surrounding the regimental insignia and Battle Honours scrolls. Standard wishes at the bottom, with the years 1913 and 1914, situate this card in the Holiday Season preceeding the start of the First World War. At that time, the company was stationed at Wolseley Barracks, in London, ON. It is were the card was manufactured in a photo studio identified on the lower right as "G.A. Henry/Photo."

DATE: 1913
DONATED BY: The RCR Collection
OBJECT ID: RCRM2007

Christmas 1915

Wishes from the Trenches, 1917


Happy Birthday, 1923

The 1923 Christmas card is not only a composite image, but also a composite message: season greetings and the regimental 40th anniversary. The formal regimental birthday is just days before Christmas, 21 December. There is a combination of elements that refer to the unit's history between 1883 and 1923 and group photos related to the daily routine of that year.
The card was commissioned to the London, ON, photographer Geo. A. Henry, who requires further research. What makes this card unique for our Story, is the personalized greeting at the bottom: "With the best of luck,/your affectionate brother,/Septimus." This is Septimus Rowden, who served for a brief period in The RCR at the begining of 1920s. His brother, Horace Rowden, also served in The RCR, in London; Horace received attestation papers on 12 May 1921, discharged one year later, after completing a "course of instruction" for non-commissioned officers.

DATE: 1923
DONATED BY: 
OBJECT ID: RCRM2003.002.0037
Septimus