Westminster, July 16, 1866, Colony of British Columbia.
Mrs. Seymour, the Governor's wife, presents the Regimental
Colours to the newly formed Seymour Artillery
courtesy of BC Archives, Call number
April 2004, we received a letter from Captain Chuck McKinnon, of
the The Royal Westminster Regiment. He said, in part:
"As you are aware, the Regiment has an
affiliation with the R.E's not just because they both are in
New Westminster but the R.E's are the forefathers and members
of both the New Westminster Rifle Company, Number 1 and the
Seymour Artillery Company. It would make sense that the
remaining and local populace would want some sort of
protection locally after the R.E. departed.
"Specifically, in 1863 the rifles consisted of
73 personnel. Upon reviewing the nominal roll in the
G.O's - 6 R.E.'s names are listed.
"Later when the Seymour Artillery Company is
formed, in 1866, there are 5 R.E's names listed. There
was also a Home Guard formed at the same time as the
"I have noted that there is some information listed on your
website, under the Rifles and Artillery Company, that are
misleading or unfortunately the sources are inaccurate. I hope
you can amend your site to correct these misinterpretations.
"I can tell you from first hand knowledge that when you do do
the research some of the information that has been presented
in the past has had many assumptions made. For example,
in many local readings it states that the NWRC, No. 1
consisted of 73 personnel mainly of Royal Engineers.
When in actually primary source documentation comparing
Enrolment documents of the Columbia Detachment and the Rifles
there is only 6 R.E's. Still 73 personnel is impressive
considering the size of the colony and the funding they
Under the NWVR page it indicates the following: unit called
New Westminster Volunteer Rifles. Their actual name was
New Westminster Rifle Company, Number 1. However,
locally they were referred to as the NWVR. Upon the
colony joining confederation the British colonial units ceased
After the military district was founded in 1871, then Canadian
military units were formed, within the Number 11 Military
district. Therefore, on the 13th of Feb 1874 -3 units were
formed the Number 1 Company of Rifles, New Westminster; Number
1 Company of Rifles, Nanaimo and the Number 1 Company of
In the 1874, the Seymour Battery of Garrison Artillery was
formed to support the local infantry units. Their non
garrison artillery pieces being the Crimean Field howitzers
issued to the Seymour Artillery Company.
Note. This pieces have been refurbished by the Royal
Westminster Regiment Association and will be presented back to
the City of New Westminster at a ceremony on the 22 May 04.
They are to be placed near the current cenotaph.
In 1877, 110 men from New Westminster and Vancouver went to
deal with the Nanaimo Coal mine strike at the Wellington
mines. Note: I have yet to find information on how many
went from New West and what units they were from and who.
In 1883, some of the local units were formed into a
provisional artillery unit. The objective of this
reformation was to provide sufficient gunners for the
fortifications in Esquimalt. Desertion by gunners on the
island was a major problem. It even continued even after
the formation of "C" Battery of the Permanent Force (1888).
The British Columbia Provisional Regiment of Garrison
Artillery was made up and formed into the following:
- Number 1 Battery- Seymour Battery (oldest battery
therefore senior battery, it of course remained in New West)
- Number 2 Battery- 1/2 of the Victoria Battery
- Number 3 Battery - 1/2 of the Victoria Battery
- Number 4 Battery - Number 1 Company of Rifles,
Victoria. The Number 1 Company of Rifles, New Westminster
continue to parade alongside the artillery.
On the 24 April 1877, the Rifles saw some change. The
Number 1 Company of Rifles, New Westminster was renamed the
New Westminster Rifle Company. Information about this
change is actually connected to Joseph Burr (great-grandfather
of Raymond Burr (actor-"Ironsides"). It seems that at
this time Officers were still elected by the men. The
men did not agree with J. Burrs appointment an expressed there
displeasure in his appointment (mutiny?). He was removed
and the Company had its name changed.
In 1886, the Provisional Regiment was changed to the British
Columbia Brigade of Garrison Artillery. Number 1 Battery
remained the Seymour Battery. There is no reason
mentioned in the General Orders why this occurred however two
prominent militia men had discussed this option before -
Dupont and Wolfenden. Wolfenden was the CO of the
Victoria Rifles but is the same Wolfenden who was the first
Company Sgt Major of the New Westminster Rifle Company, Number
1. He is the same Cpl Richard Wolfenden of the Columbia
Detachment, R.E.'s Queens printer. While a member of the
NWR Company he took his Officer's commission. When the
government an capital was moved from New Westminster to
Victoria he moved there as well. He joined the Victoria
In 1892, because of the decline in parading and the
disrepair of equipment sadly the New Westminster Rifle Company
was removed from the Active List.
Between 1888 and 1893, there were concerns about the manning
of the Esquimalt fortifications. Esquimalt was home to
the Royal Navy Dockyards and home of the Pacific Station for
the Pacific Squadrons. A major strategic port for the
Navy --both Canada and England. Therefore, it was
decided that British gunners would provided the majority of
the personnel there. From Aug 1893 - 1906.
Therefore, the militia was reorganized to become the British
Columbia Battalion of Garrison Artillery. Less men
required. This renaming caused quite a stir for the
Seymour Battery was renumbered as number 4 Company not number
1 company. The company was disbanded (mutiny?).
During it's intermission. The artillery was reorganized
again and the 5th British Columbia Battalion (Bn) of Garrison
Artillery (GA) was formed. Number 4 Company, 5th BC Bn of GA
was formed in April 1895. This lasted not even a year.
In 1895, the artillery were finally issued a Garrison
Artillery piece (29 years after the formation of a garrison
artillery company). A 64 lb Rifle Muzzle Loader (RML)
gun with a land base carriage. Each Company on the
mainland got 1 gun. The same gun which resides in front
of our armoury. (That is the reason why there is two 64 RML
parked in front of the Beatty Street Armoury, Vancouver-
Number 5 and 6 Company's).
In 1896 another reorganization took place and the 5th BC Bn of
G.A was formed into two Bn's - 1 Bn on the Island and 2nd Bn
on the mainland.
At this time the Seymour Battery was renumbered- Number 1
Battery, 2nd BN, 5th BC Bn of GA.
In 1896 the artillery occupied the present day armoury in New
Since there was more of a requirement to provide infantrymen
to protect the fortifications than qualified artillery men.
The Royal Marine Artillery and Royal Garrison Artillery
providing the gunnery personnel. The 2nd Bn, 5th BC Bn
of G.A. was converted in its role to infantry.
On 1st of August 1899, the 6th Bn of Rifles was formed with a
complement of 15 Officers and five hundred men.
You can now see why there is so much disagreement and
confusion to who is the oldest unit, units form, changes etc.
If you require the specific G.O.'s I can provide them for you.
I have never seen mention of the New Westminster Artillery
Captain MacKinnon closed with the recommendation Arthur
Bishop's account of Canadian VC winner Filip Konowal is
inaccurate, and that "Cpl Filip Konowal was awarded his VC while
serving with the 47th CEF Bn during WWI." The reason Mr.
Bishop's account is inaccurate is due to quoting from a secondary
source -- an appropriate caution to any researcher. Double
check your sources.
1866 - July 16 - Seymour
Artillery Company formed, due to threats from U.S.A. from Fenian
groups. First drill shed built for the Volunteers, who also had
the use of a brick and stone magazine left by the Engineers.
These buildings were kept up by the Volunteers, who also paid for
their uniforms and were unpaid. The Government supplied rifles
and ammunition only. Enthusiasm in local defense was revived
with the Fenian scares. The Fenians were groups of Irish
Americans who, after the American Civil War, decided to invade and
conquer Canada and use it to trade to free Ireland from Britain.
Several actual invasions took place in the Niagara peninsula and
battles were fought between the Fenians and the British Regulars and
Canadian Militia. Locally, a force of Fenians arrived in San
Francisco and were trying to hire a boat to sail North. They
a leather belt, pipe-clayed, square brass buckle with broad
arrow, WD 8)
Murray - " No. This is not a RE belt left behind. I
don't know exactly what it is, but it is not a RE belt.
Just previous to Governor Seymour arriving, there was a
company formed called the Seymour Artillery, and the belts,
pouches and sword (bayonet) and rifles formerly belonging to
the RE, which had been left behind, were
served out to the Seymour Artillery. I know, because
Father was one of the principles in the Seymour Artillery, and
I saw it done. I remember when the uniforms were made by
one of the tailors in New Westminster, Tommy Walsh, Thomas
Walsh, who had been in the RE and
they (Seymour Artillery) were the ones who received Governor
Seymour on his arrival at the Camp; that was where the arch
was erected for him to pass under; they made it of all kinds
of flags, evergreens. But this is not one of the RE
of conversation with John Murray,
son of Sapper John Murray RE.
Saturday, 20 August 1938
List of some of the RE who
became members of the Seymour Artillery Company:
RE Rank Sapper Allan Cummings (or Cummins). Become Trumpeter in
SAC., 16th July 1866. Is a blacksmith in new Westminster from
1876-77. Takes the land grant 150 acres.
RE Rank 2nd Corporal George Hand - battery Serjeant, 1866, in
SAC. Takes the land grant 150 acres. Blacksmith from 1863
with John Woodcook (RE). 1866 is Officer at Jail at New
Westminster. Battery Serjeant Major, 16th July 1866
RE Rank Sapper John Linn (Lynn) - gets a Crown grant of 40
acres. Serves in the NW Rifles and the SAC. Corporal, 16th
RE Rank Lance Corporal John Murray - takes the 150 acre land
grant. A shoemaker in the New Westminster till 1882 when he
moves to his grant which he subdivided forming Port Moody! Serjeant,
1866 in SAC. Son, Hugh, born on the Thames City in 1859.
RE Rank Lance Corporal George Turner - was a surveryor with William
McColl. marries McColl's Widow, 1869. Serves in SAC. become
president of the BC Land Surveyors.
Robert Cowan, Corporal, 16th
John Smith, Bombardier, 16th
Lancelot newton, Acting
Bombardier, 16th July 1866.
1867 - Two bronze Field
Cannons and other equipment sent from England, arrived by H.M.S.
"SPARROWHAWK" September 15th.
Office provided guns, rifles, ammunition and accoutrements complete for
this unit, and a Drill shed for them was built for them at New
Westminster at the cost of $1,400.
1871 - October 16 - B.C.
joined Canada, and was designated Military District No. 11. All
units then became part of the Canadian Militia, but there was little
assistance from the Federal Government for many years.
1874 - February 13 - New
Westminster Volunteer Rifles designated as No. I Company of Rifles in
Military District No. 11. The Seymour Company became the Seymour
Battery of Garrison Artillery, with no garrison type guns.
|The Seymour Battery of Garrison
Artillery at "The Battery" southeast of Albert Crescent in New
Westminster. This photo was taken between 1878, when the men
acquired spiked helmets, and 1886 when the helmets were replaced by
1883 - October 12 - All
Militia units in B.C. were formed into the B.C. Provisional Regiment
of Garrison Artillery, with No. 1 Company in New Westminster, and Nos.
2, 3, and 4 in Victoria. The New Westminster Rifles and the
Victoria Rifles became Artillery units on paper, but there is little
evidence that the New Westminster unit changed from its Rifle status
for some years."
The Seymour Battery became
Number 1 Battery on the 12th October, 1883, when our Regiment officially
was entered on the roll of Battle.