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224   MILITARY HISTORY OF CANADA

him to pocket his pride. Even as late as 1861 Britain was still paying over £413,000 a year for the support of her regular garrison in British North America. In 1839, she had seventeen battalions of infantry and a regiment of cavalry in the Canadas, besides artillery and other branches of the service.

At the time of the Union the sedentary militia of Upper Canada mustered on paper 248 battalions with 117,000 men, and in Lower Canada 178 battalions with 118,000 men. Theoretically at least every adult male between eighteen and sixty in Upper Canada, and six-teen and sixty in Lower Canada, was liable to be called out for military service. Men were expected to volunteer, and did volunteer, but the law provided that, if a sufficient number did not offer, corps could be raised to strength by means of the ballot. This was essentially conscription, that bugbear of so many worthy people of the present day. There seems, indeed, to be a curious lack of information on this subject, for as a matter of fact conscription has always been recognized as the under-lying principle of the militia laws of Canada. It was so before the Union of 1841; it was so in the legislation following the Union; and it is so now, for the Militia Act that is in force to-day contains the same provision for compulsory enlistment by ballot, when voluntary enlistment fails to provide the number of men needed for the defence of the country.

With the Union of 1841, the question of defence, as we have seen, once more became a live issue. There was much discussion, and the consciousness of national growth made the subject one for serious consideration, but it remained more or less academic until the sharp menace of danger from without quickened public interest. This stimulus came in 1846, when the long-standing dispute over the Oregon Boundary culminated in the slogan of American demagogues, "Fifty-four-forty-or-Fight!" One wonders, parenthetically, if the temporary popularity of this political war-cry depended most upon


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