From a button box to a rich lesson in military historyPublished Saturday May 15th, 2010
We rushed into Gram's with great excitement. The following day was a holiday. Cliff and I were on a mission to borrow some fishing line and hooks, which were kept in the drawer in the pine cupboard in the outside kitchen. But Gram insisted that first we remove our muddy boots and follow her into the double parlour to look at an ornate-framed picture of an elderly lady named Queen Victoria.
According to Gram, it was important we knew why we were having a day off from school. She explained that after the Queen's death in 1901 her birth date of May 24 had been declared a holiday and was to be called Victoria Day.
All this history was fine and dandy, but all we were interested in was going on a fishing trip to the Mt. Prospect area with Gord. He had assured us we could catch a good string of trout there.
After digging a can of worms, I went to bed early so I would be rested for the long hike. In the middle of the night I woke to thunder and lightning, followed by the pounding of rain on the window.
By breakfast it was raining even harder. There would be no fishing trip that day.
Mum sensed tears were about to flow so she asked us to get the button box. She dumped its contents on the table. To get our minds off our disappointment, our task was to sort the buttons, threading together any that matched.
Cliff chose the brass ones. But when he went to match them, he found they had different ensigns on them. This piqued our curiousity.
Mum explained that this button box had actually belonged to her grandmother and that maybe some of the brass buttons could have been from the uniforms Grampy and his brother wore when they took their saddle horses and went to Fox Hill or the Sussex area to train for the militia with the 8th Hussars.
Their rations consisted of bread, meat, potatoes, tea, coffee, salt, pepper and barley, for soup. They slept in bell tents, 10 men to a tent, one blanket to each man, with the good earth for a mattress. Mum thought they were probably paid about 50 cents a day.
The 8th Hussars have had a long association with royalty. In 1879, after mounting a guard for the governor general of Canada and his wife, HRH Princess Louise, who was the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, the regiment sought and was given, in 1884, permission to add her name to their title.
It was only fitting that they would name a wounded colt, rescued while fighting in Italy during the Second World War, and retained as a mascot, Princess Louise. This horse went on to have two foals of her own, aptly named Princess Louise II and III. In 1972, HRH Princess Anne, Princess Royal became the Colonel-in-Chief of the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) and has been an integral part of the pomp and ceremony associated with the regiment since that time.
The 8th Hussars claims to be Canada's oldest cavalry regiment.
I asked Harvey McLeod for some thoughts on the 8th Hussars. He told me about the regiment's perseverance - how it endured some tough times when governments allowed only a few hundred dollars per year for training. Farm boys and the factory workers continued to train as "Saturday Night Soldiers." They persevered by attending summer camp in Sussex, often bringing their own horses from the farm.
The 8th Hussars kept going when other regiments existed in little more than name.
It provided a squadron to fight dismounted in the trenches in the First World War and supplied a very distinguished tank regiment in the Second World War.
It's amazing how much The 8th Hussars Regimental Museum, located in the historical train station in Sussex, has accumulated in the few years it has been in existence. There are many hundreds of artifacts - uniforms, kits, wartime souvenirs and more - and thousands of papers, documents, photographs and books.
"Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised," Harvey says. "Much of this came from men and women who went through the very quick and intense periods when the country was at war. These periods tended to be definitive in their lives and they naturally kept souvenirs to remind them of those times - times that were, as Dickens said, 'the best and the worst.' "
The 8th Hussars Regimental Museum is located in the historical Train Station, 66 Broad St, Sussex, New Brunswick. It is open from June to September, Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Visit their website at http://www.8chassociation.com/Museum.html
It was through these very doors, where the museum is housed, that countless Hussars came and went to train at Camp Sussex or to serve in places throughout the world.
Mulligan - Nixon - Wilband - Baxter: Robert and Anne (Nixon) Mulligan came to Canada from County Tyrone circa 1855-56 with infant William. Can't locate information on their sons William, George Robert or daughters Anne [Frederick] Wilband and Jane/Jennie [John] Baxter. Both daughters had two sons. Does anyone have information that will help me in my search?
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Townsend - Gordon - Cunningham: I seek information on the family members of Zebulon Townsend, who married Harriett Gordon 11 March 1804 at Christ Church, Shelburne, N.S. Zebulon died 12 March 1838 in Saint John, N.B. Their children: Nathaniel Michael, died 1843; Gordon, born 1806, died 1835; Sarah, born 1808, died 1885; William, born 1809; Ann, born 1810, married a William Cunningham and ran the Alms House in Saint John, N.B.; Zebulon born 1814; Henry G, born 1816; and Halstead, born 1818.
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Lester - Bullock - Fairchild: James Gilbert Lester married Martha Bennett Bullock, Saint John, 24 July 1821. Looking for possible Loyalist connection. Have his parents as Gilbert Lester and Elizabeth Ann Fairchild; need verification or alternatives.
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New Brunswick for sale.
Books on the 8th Hussars available
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