The first commanding
officer of the 103rd Calgary Rifles was from eastern Canada, where the
militia tradition was strong. In his attempts to start a unit in
Calgary, Lieutenant Colonel Armstrong raised over 800 men in 1902 and
1904, however, the government would not grant recognition until 1910.
The newly designated 103rd Calgary Rifles trained in and around the
young city, sometimes near the site of the museum, in the land belonging
to the Sarcee Nation. High standards were set, both in training and the
social graces. When the 10th Battalion C.E.F. was raised, 846 officers
and men of the 103rd were ready.
Artifacts and photos from
this era are something of a rarity, however, the Regimental Museum has
been able to obtain many interesting items for preservation and
The virtual tour of the
Regimental Museum begins with a dramatic mural, shown at left, depicting
regimental life in Calgary. In the display cabinet at right is a rare
mess dress jacket, in the dark "rifle green" colour adopted by Rifle
Regiments in Britain and her colonies. The display at centre rotates in
its glass cabinet, and depicts ONE MAN - TWO ROLES. (As mentioned
above, this display is no longer part of the actual museum display as of
2005, having been replaced.)
ONE MAN-TWO ROLES
The soldier depicted in the
case wears the uniform of a Captain Enoch Sales, who served with the
103rd Calgary Rifles during its brief existence as a militia unit from
1910 to 1914. Behind Captain Sales is the prairie surrounding this
museum as it looked at that time. Summer camps were traditionally held
around Reservoir Park on the property of Colonel Taylor, now Richmond
Green Golf Course.
Captain Sales' "alter ego"
is a young farm hand, so typical of the soldiers who manned the 103rd
during the pre-war years. Whether for the excitement of serving in the
Regiment, or the satisfaction of a Wednesday night meal and trolley
fare, these men were the stock of Canada's army in 1914. The fields and
steam threshing machine behind our young lad belonged to the Shaw farms
Since the first of April
1910, many of Calgary's working men, whether farmers or lawyers, clerks
or carpenters, have put down the tools of their trade at the end of a
working day and taken up the uniform and rifle of a Canadian soldier.
In war and in peace,
Calgarians have served in the 103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles), the Tenth
Battalion and in the Calgary Highlanders with pride and distinction.