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Canadian Documents Gallery

Militia and Defence

Photograph of soldiers in a classroom at Ogden Military Convalescent Hospital, Calgary, Alberta, November 1917

Classroom at Ogden Military Convalescent Hospital, Calgary, Alberta, November 1917
Source ]

During the 1860s, Canadians feared that the victorious Union armies from the American Civil War might be directed northward. The need for an improved defence organization was an important contributing factor leading to negotiations for Confederation. Sir George Etienne Cartier's first Militia Act for the Dominion of Canada created the Department of Militia and Defence in 1868. It drew heavily upon the Province of Canada's system of universal obligation for military service and volunteer units, which visibly embodied the militia.

The militia, like its predecessors, could be called upon to quell public disturbances when requested by magistrates to act "in aid of the civil power." Candidates for officers' commissions were required to qualify at a military school, initially run by the British Army, and militia officers were subordinate to British Regular officers of the same rank.

On January 1, 1923, the Departments of Militia and Defence, the Naval Service (which had reported to the Minister of Marine and Fisheries), and the Air Board were integrated into the Department of National Defence.

Military intelligence training documents, RG 9, series II-C, vol. 8, file 19, 6 pages
Source ]

Further Research

Department of Militia and Defence fonds. Library and Archives Canada. fuseaction=genitem.displayItem?=eng&rec_nbr=17&rec_nbr_list=17

"History of Departments: Militia and Defence." Parliament of Canada.
(accessed June 13, 2010)

National Defence and the Canadian Forces.
(accessed June 13, 2010).

"War and Military." Library and Archives Canada.
(accessed June 13, 2010).