Canada’s Infantry School Corps Created

Officers of the Toronto “C” company, Infantry School Corps, in 1891 © Albertype Company/Library and Archives Canada/PA-032723
The Wolseley Barracks in the 1920s © Library and Archives Canada / C-000150

For the week of Monday, December 17, 2018.

On December 22, 1883, the Canada Gazette published Militia General Order 26, which authorized the formation of the “Infantry School Corps.” 

Before 1883, the “militia myth” – a longstanding popular belief that soldiers were born, not made – along with the continued support of the British Army, meant that few Canadians saw the benefits of investing precious tax dollars in their own part-time militia. With only modest funding, important resources, such as uniforms and weapons, were often lacking, as was the training of troops.

When Great Britain announced, in 1870, that it intended to withdraw its troops, it became clear that Canada would need to make a greater investment in its own defence. The British military departure coincided with increased concerns over domestic security, not least because of the invasions of Canada by the Fenian Brotherhood from the United States in the 1860s and 1870s

It was within this context that the federal government introduced the “Consolidated Militia Act of 1883,” which permitted the establishment of “Schools of Military Instruction.” An initial force of 750 men allowed for the formation of three “Schools of Infantry” charged with training and educating the Militia, while also performing regular regimental duties. 

Between 1886 and 1888, barracks were built in London, Ontario, to accommodate a fourth Infantry School. Originally named the “Infantry School Building,” the barracks were later renamed after the Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, Viscount Garnet Wolseley. By 1901, the Infantry School Corps had evolved into the Royal Canadian Regiment, which has played an important role in Canada’s military history, serving abroad in South Africa, both world wars, Korea, and on NATO and United Nations operations.

Wolseley Barracks, a designated national historic site, is still home to the Royal Canadian Regiment. 

Find out more about the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and the National Program of Historical Commemoration here.