Monday, July 13, 2015

Welcome Home

Vancouverites, in fact most British Columbians, are quite patriotic. Or at least we used to be. During the Boer War, we were ready to send men to war but the federal government rejected the province's offer, taking only 17 men. Naturally, the people of B.C. were indignant. 

On December 31, 1900 seven of the detachment returned. They were met at the CPR station by one of the largest crowds in Vancouver history. These men had taken part in 37 battles and skirmishes as well as the capture of 3 defended cities.

And their home city pulled out all the stops to welcome them home. The 6th Regiment Duke of Connaught's Own Rifles were on parade for the returning soldiers. Colonel C.A. Worsnop and Mayor Garden made speeches and a procession accompanied them to the Royal Theatre. There, the men were welcomed home by the Lieutenant Governor, T. R. McInnes.

Arches were erected on Cordova Street and searchlights played from the top of the B.C. Electric Building, ending at the Opera House. There, the returning heroes were presented with a gold watch and a new suit of clothes.

The News-Advertiser wrote the next morning:

"They were surrounded on the stage by the fair faces of the youth and beauty of the city, which set off to admiration the bronzed, bold and manly faces of the heroes who had suffered and conquered on the burning veldt for Queen, Home and Empire!"

Looking back today, after everything the world has gone through, this may seem tinselly and overly theatrical. However, at the time, it was the biggest was the Empire had had since Waterloo. For all the horrors of war, the Boer War didn't cast a shadow over the wild rejoicing on the last night of the nineteenth century.

Fortunately, there weren't many deaths of the original seventeen sent overseas. One captain and two privates were killed. Four were seriously wounded and sent home as invalids and the last three returned home later.

Thanks to the book Vancouver, From Milltown to Metropolis by Alan Morley for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill

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