By Donald Fraser, Victoria, B.C.

Perth was a military settlement and has always maintained a military spirit. In the trouble of ’37 it did its duty and during the Trent affair and Fenian Raid the old spirit showed itself in a marked degree. I must only refer, however, to personal knowledge of its military affairs.

Prior to the 24th of May being proclaimed our national holiday, the 4th of June was the great day. It was our training day. The militia was called out and reviewed by Col. Matheson on Drummond Street, in front of the Court House. My father was a captain, his company consisted of the able-bodied men over twenty-one and under forty-five years of age in the East Ward. William Smitherman was his sergeant. It was the duty of the sergeant, a certain number of days in advance, to personally “warn” the men to meet at the place appointed on the 4th day of June. My father, decked out in all the bravery of his regimentals, blue coat, silver buttons, crimson silK sash and sword, with the assistance of his sergeant, a dood deal of coaxing and shoving, managed to get his company into some kind of a line, and the roll was called.

To my boyish mind I would say there were a hundred companies, so big and grand did they look. But possibly there were eight or ten companies on the ground. Capt. William Allan, grandfather of the present proprietor of the Courier, was there with a company of stalwarts from Balderson.

Officers and men alike were perfectly innocent of drill. I believe one officer did venture a word of command, on one occasion. He said “wheel round like a gate and turn your backs to the Court House.” While they had no knowledge of drill, there was not a man among them but would fight to the death in defence of his country. And for physical strength I venture to say they would over-match the average volunteer companies of the present day. The colonel reviewed his troops, made a stirring address, sincerely congratulating the country in having such a reserve strength in case of need. How simple the machinery! how inexpensive to the country! and yet what satisfaction to know its fighting strength so accurately! The usual cheers were given for the queen and the colonel, then all hands adjourned to the long bridge to fire the royal salute of twenty-one guns, under the supervision of John Manion. Mr. Manion was out in ’37 and had a good knowledge of artillery tactics.

During the Trent affair it was said in twenty-four hours Canada bristled with bayonets. Perth gave a good account of herself at the time. A public meeting was held in Robertson’s Hall, D’Arcy Street; a company was formed at once. Donald Fraser, barrister, was chosen captain, John A. McLaren Lieutenant and William Wordie ensign. Sergt. Cox was the first drill instructor, subsequently two other companies were formed, one officered by Hon. A.J. Matheson and Col. Scott, the other by Hon. J.G. Haggart, John Ryan and the writer. Sergt. Lambert was our drill instructor for some time. During the Fenian Raid many of our boys were called to the front and had occasion required would have given a good account of themselves, but haply no engagement with the enemy took place. Under the present system I have no doubt the military affairs of the district are in very efficient shape.