Museum

Mission Statement:

To collect, preserve, study and exhibit those objects that will serve to illustrate the story of the Regiment in Canadian military history. Understanding this heritage gives a better appreciation of the traditions and uniqueness as a Western Canadian Highland Regiment.

The Military Museums is located in Calgary, Alberta across from the former site of Currie Barracks and Canadian Forces Base Calgary. The Museum is home to The Calgary Highlanders Museum and Archives. One of the permanent galleries of The Military Museums is devoted to displaying artifacts and exhibits related specifically to The Calgary Highlanders. The Museum also boasts an extensive archive of documents and artifacts pertaining to the regiment’s history. The gallery, open for public display whenever The Military Museums are operating, chronicles the evolution of the 103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles), 10th Battalion and The Calgary Highlanders.

Life size dioramas depict the grim realities of war and are vivid reminders of the heroism of Canadian soldiers, their significant battles and achievements. Together with photographs, documents, medals, weapons and uniforms, the gallery unfolds the history of this proud regiment through two World Wars, as a source of volunteers for UN and NATO Missions throughout the world, as a training unit during times of peace, and in the War on Terror. The links below will take you on a brief Virtual Tour of the regimental gallery.

The Calgary Highlanders Regimental Museum and Archives holds information about the 103rd Calgary Rifles, the 10th Battalion CEF, the 56th Battalion CEF, the 82nd Battalion CEF and the Calgary Highlanders. For enquiries relating to family history, please send an e-mail to the address below and include as much detail as possible about the person in question (Surname, given name, service number, rank, years of service etc.). It should be noted that we do not hold personnel files and that these can be requested through Library and Archives Canada.

The Museum is staffed on a part-time basis by volunteers, so it can take up to one month to reply to enquiries. Please use the form in the Contact Us tab in the list below to send us a secure email and we will get back to you as soon as possible.  This form can also be used to contact the Museum regarding artifacts relating to the history of our Regiment which might be donated to the museum.

In 2005, a new entry way display was added to the regimental gallery. Two mannequins have subsequently been added to the display here, showing the Regiment as it dressed in 1910, and as it appears today. The artwork was from a poster originally commissioned by the Department of National Defence, to mark the 80th Anniversary of the birth of the Regiment. The old exhibit is shown below.

Early Beginnings

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 display.

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 in Midnapore.

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.

The 10th Battalion

he next gallery chronicles key components of the history of the 10th Battalion in the First World War.

On entering the 10th Battalion gallery, the viewer will find on their right hand side two display cases with various artifacts brought back from the trenches of World War One. At centre is a column devoted to the Japanese-Canadians who fought with the 10th in the Great War; while some other battalions held Japanese-Canadians in disdain, the Tenth Battalion employed many of them without prejudice, and decorated several for bravery in combat with the enemy. Some of the proud veterans of the trenches would view their service with some bitterness after 1941; some of those same decorated soldiers would be forced to live in Canadian internment camps during the Second World War.

Major William Ashton Cockshutt served in all three units perpetuated by today’s Regiment, and was instrumental in forming the Calgary Highlanders. A display devoted to him is central in the Tenth Battalion Gallery.

Major Cockshutt was born in 1892, the eldest son of W. F. Cockshutt, a long-standing member of Parliament, from Brantford, Ontario. His uncle, James Cockshutt, founded the Cockshutt Plow Company which was known throughout Western Canada.

When Ashton was fourteen, he was not expected to live past the age of twenty. His doctors recommended the only possible cure for his asthma was to live in Western Canada. Cockshutt moved to Calgary, where he lived on a farm until his health improved. He attended Western Canada College, where he was introduced to the values of a military lifestyle.

In 1909, he entered the Calgary office of the family business. While in Calgary, he joined the 103rd Calgary Rifles as a private and later commissioned as a Lieutenant. In the Spring of 1914, Lieutenant Cockshutt was among the first contingent of 300 men, from the 103rd Calgary Rifles, who left for Camp Valcartier to join the 10th Battalion.

In Europe, he fought at the Battle of Ypres, Festubert and Givenchy, where he was wounded and eventually was returned to Brantford, Ontario. In Brantford, he joined the 125th Battalion and was promoted to Captain. He continued training and went overseas with the 125th Battalion where he attained the rank of Major.

In the fall of 1918, he returned to the Calgary office of the Cockshutt Plow Co. and rejoined the 10th Battalion. Ashton was one of three Officers who assisted in the formation of the Calgary Highlanders. Cockshutt remained a o Highlander until 1922, when he was transferred to Edmonton with the Cockshutt Plow Co.. He held senior positions within the company and with other large corporations.

William Ashton Cockshutt was one of the few Officers to serve in all three Regiments which perpetuate the Calgary Highlanders. He lived to be ninety-seven, a remarkable feat for a boy not expected to live past the age of twenty.

To the left of the Cockshutt display are photos and replica medal groups of the Battalion’s two Victoria Cross holders – Acting Sergeant Arthur Knight and Private Harry Brown. Both VCs were earned late in the war, and both awards were unfortunately posthumous; neither man would ever know that he had been awarded the highest medal for gallantry in the British Empire. The text of the citations are also included in the display and serve as but two examples of the extreme heroism displayed by men of the Tenth Battalion throughout the First World War.

PRIVATE HARRY BROWN, V.C.,10TH BN. C.E.F.

Harry Brown was born in Gananoque, Ontario, on the 11th of May, 1898. The events described in the citation took place during the second day of fighting for Hill 70, the 16th of August, 1917. Private Brown is buried in Noex-les-Mines Communal Cemetery, four miles south-east of Bethune, France.

For most conspicuous bravery, courage and devotion to duty:

After the capture of a position, the enemy massed in force and counter-attacked. The situation became very critical, all wires being cut. It was of the utmost importance to get word back to headquarters. This soldier and one other were given the message with orders to deliver the same at all cost. The other messenger was killed. Pte. Brown had his arm shattered, but continued on through an intense barrage until he arrived at the close support lines and found an officer.

He was so spent that he fell down the dug-out steps, but retained consciousness long enough to hand over his message saying “Important Message”. He then became unconscious and died in the dressing-station a few hours later.

His devotion to duty was of the highest possible degree imaginable, and his successful delivery of the message undoubtedly saved the loss of the position for the time and prevented many casualties.

-The London Gazette, 17th October 1917.

SGT. ARTHUR GEORGE KNIGHT, V.C.,10TH BN. C.E.F.

Arthur George Knight was born near Lewes, Sussex, England, on the 26th of June, 1886. In 1911 he came to Canada where he worked as a carpenter prior to the outbreak of war. He joined the 46th Battalion in December, 1914, went overseas in the following year, and was sent to the 10th Battalion in France. He served a total of three years in France before he was fatally wounded. Sergeant Knight was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the Belgian Government in November, 1917, for his outstanding service. The action which won him the Victoria Cross took place on the 2nd day of September, 1918, at Villers-lez-Cagnicourt, France. Knight and Sussex Crescents in Coventry Place, Regina, Saskatchewan, are named in his honour. He is buried in Dominion Cemetery, Hendecourt-lez-Cagincourt, France.

For most conspicuous bravery, initiative, and devotion to duty when after an unsuccessful attack, Sgt. Knight led a bombing section forward, under very heavy fire of all descriptions, and engaged the enemy at close quarters. Seeing that his party continued to be held up, he dashed forward alone, bayoneting several of the enemy machine-gunners and trench mortar crews and forcing the remainder to retire in confusion. He then brought forward a Lewis gun and directed his fire on the retreating enemy, inflicting many casualties.

In the subsequent advance of his platoon in pursuit, Sgt. Knight saw a party of about thirty of the enemy go into a deep tunnel which led off the trench. He again dashed forward alone, and having killed one officer and two N.C.O.’s, he captured twenty other ranks. Subsequently he routed, single-handed, another enemy party which was opposing the advance of his platoon.

On each occasion he displayed the greatest valour under fire at very close range, and by his example of courage, gallantry and initiative, was a wonderful inspiration to all.

This very gallant N.C.O. was subsequently fatally wounded.

The final section of the Tenth Battalion gallery

The final section of the Tenth Battalion gallery is a life-size depiction of the Battalion’s first Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Russ Boyle, who was killed in the unit’s first combat action. The Battle of Kitcheners’ Wood was part of the overall Second Battle of Ypres; and began on the night of 21-22 April 1915 when the Germans launched the first poison gas attack of the war on the Western Front, routing two divisions of French colonials and territorials and causing the First Canadian Division to be hurriedly thrown into action.

Lieutenant Colonel Boyle was leading the Tenth and Sixteenth Battalions in a hastily organized counterattack when he was struck five times by a German machine gun. He died a few days later, but the Tenth Battalion gained everlasting fame in their successful attack, earning the Calgary Highlanders the right to wear a prized Oak Leaf shoulder badge in commemoration of this attack.

St. Julien’s Day is commemorated annually; Kitchener’s Wood was located near the town of St. Julien where much fighting occurred after the initial counterattack of the Canadians at the Wood.

After the First World War, the battle-hardened battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force were disbanded and the militia was re-organized. On March 15, 1920, a new infantry unit, the Calgary Regiment, which was comprised of two active battalions, was authorized to replace the old 103rd Calgary Rifles. On September 15, 1921, the first battalion of the new regiment was converted to a Highland (kilted) unit and The Calgary Highlanders were born.

The first Commanding Officer of the regiment was Lieutenant Colonel Harold F. McDonald, a veteran of the First World War. The creation of a Highland regiment in Calgary was largely due to the efforts of the Honourable Richard B. Bennett, a member of Parliament from the city, and future Prime Minister of Canada. Bennett was also to become the new regiment’s first Honorary Colonel.

The regiment, whose headquarters was the recently completed Mewata Armouries on 11th Street West, perpetuated the memory of the 10th Battalion and carried their hard-won Battle Honours. A regimental tradition which was begun during these early years and continues to the present day, is the annual church parade in April to commemorate the battle of St. Julien.

Throughout the lean years of the 1930s, the Calgary Highlanders soldiered on. Although the militia soldier was entitled to pay for his services, it was usually assigned to the Regiment to help defray expenses. In exchange, a soldier often received street car tickets to enable him to attend weekly parades at the armoury.

The culmination of the training year was the summer camp at Sarcee, where the soldier lived in tents and practiced the skills taught throughout the winter months at the armoury. Several days before departure, the men received their clothing, equipment and weapons -all of outdated patterns used during the First World War. Eating utensils, cleaning materials and books were brought from home.

Training at camp consisted of periods of instruction, stints on the rifle range, route marches and a sports day. The highlight of the camp was a two day exercise involving the six infantry regiments of Alberta’s two militia brigades.

Shown here in the interwar gallery is a Calgary Highlander working on his Vickers machine gun during summer camp. He wears the kilt apron designed to keep the kilt clean while training, and is wearing the glengarry traditionally worn for dress occasions. Within the bell-tent, we can see the “paliasse” or field mattress, and other related items of this era. The bell tent would be a feature of Militia life well into the 1970s; the Vickers Gun too would soldier on for many decades past the end of the Great Depression. Sadly, to some, the kilt would not continue on as an item of field dress beyond 1939-40 when it was banned as “unsuitable for modern war.”

The new Regiment would not have been complete without regimental music; a brass band and a pipe band were started in short order. The life size piper shown in the gallery wears a piper’s uniform circa 1935. The pipers of the regiment adopted the Royal Stewart Tartan, not knowing at the time that Royal Stewart was the prerogative only of Royal Regiments! Pipers of the Regiment wore the tartan until the First Battalion arrived in England, when Imperial authorities were quick to correct the regiment on their error. The Second Battalion pipers continued to wear the tartan briefly in Canada.

In the 1990s this gaffe was commemorated by official permission by the Directorate of History for pipers of The Calgary Highlanders to wear Royal Stewart tartan ribbons on their bagpipes – this time, in honour of the connection between the Regiment and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who by that time was the Colonel-In-Chief of the Regiment.

The next portion of the gallery is a variety of photos and a copy of the famous communication which arrived at Mewata Armouries on 1 September 1939, the same day that Hitler invaded Poland. Canada was not yet at war, yet the Commanding Officer of the Calgary Highlanders received this terse message from Ottawa:

Albert Canal

In September 1944, to help clear the port of Antwerp in Belgium, the Calgary Highlanders were ordered to cross the heavily defended Albert Canal and establish a bridgehead. The plan called for a small patrol from “C” Company to cross over a lock gate on the canal and secure a bridgehead. Two more Companies would follow and the engineers could start construction of a bridge.

Sergeant Clarence Crockett led the patrol of eight volunteers in the early hours of September 22. Carrying only weapons and ammunition, the patrol moved across a demolished footbridge to an island in the centre of the canal. They moved silently to the edge of the 90 foot-wide lock gate and began to carefully walk along the top, only to discover that the last eight feet had been destroyed. The only connection to the shore was a six-inch pipe with a taught cable stretched across it. Sergeant Crockett and Corporal Roy Harold edged across the pipe and managed to reach the enemy shore, enabling the remainder of the patrol to safely reach the bank. The Germans had been alerted and immediately opened fire with two machine guns and flares, wounding the last member of the patrol and preventing the remainder of the regiment from crossing.
Sergeant Crockett organized the various weapons of the patrol and set up a routine of continuous fire, persuading the enemy that a much larger force had actually crossed the canal. Much later, after re-establishing radio contact with the Battalion, “C” Company crossed the canal to join the patrol and was advised that the bridgehead had been taken.

The following day, the Highlanders expanded their bridgehead and, led by Major Bruce McKenzie, repulsed several enemy counter-attacks. By evening, the engineers had completed the bridge and joined in the fight. The Germans attacked again that night, but by morning the regiment had been reinforced by the Regiment de Maisonneuve and the bridgehead was secured.

Sergeant Crockett was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his leadership and exemplary courage during the crossing of the Albert Canal. Major McKenzie was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for conducting the spirited defence of the bridgehead.

A full size diorama depicting Crockett and Harold greets the visitor to this gallery. Opposite this diorama is a 1:35 scale depiction of the Walcheren Causeway.

The 2nd Canadian Division was tasked with the job of securing Walcheren Causeway. On October 31 the 5 Brigades, which consisted of the Calgary Highlanders, the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, le Regiment de Maisonneuve, and the Fifth Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, attacked and successfully created a bridgehead across the causeway.

Other displays in the Second World War gallery include a life-size diorama incorporating a surviving example of a three-inch mortar. These weapons were used to great effect as the battalion’s organic artillery. Six tubes made up the Mortar Platoon, which belonged to Support Company. These mortars rode into action in Universal Carriers and could be set up quickly in mortar pits, or as in this diorama, behind a wall or other hard cover.

Also included in the gallery is a mural depicting the battalion at the end of the war, as it appeared on the return home to Canada.

The next section of the Museum features a display of medals, a replica of the Brooding Soldier monument that stands at St. Julien in Belgium, and a life size depiction of a Calgary Highlander standing vigil at a cenotaph. On the wall are the Battle Honours of the Calgary Highlanders.

The medals in the Calgary Highlanders gallery run the gamut from those left behind by fallen comrades, to those worn proudly by the larger-than-life.

Peacekeeping – 1950 – Present

Major Moore was the first soldier of the Regiment to go abroad on peacekeeping duty, and hundreds more have followed in his footsteps, joining Regular Force units for tours of duty in Cyprus, Cambodia, the Golan Heights, the Suez, and most recently in the former Yugoslavia.

A lifesize diorama on the Peacekeeping exhibit shows one of the many typical duties of Canadian peacekeepers in Bosnia – an entry team uncovering an illegal weapons cache in a war-damaged house.

In September 2002, an entire platoon of Calgary Highlanders was integrated into the PPCLI Battle Group making up Rotation 11 (Roto 11) of Operation Palladium in Bosnia-Herzogovina. The battle group (comprising headquarters, two infantry companies, one support company, and an administration company) numbered approximately 350 soldiers from 1 PPCLI, with troops from Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians); as well as artillery and engineer troops – and also a formed company of 185 reservists including a formed company of 124 soldiers. This battle group was the major component of the 1,100 man Canadian Task Force Bosnia-Herzogovina. Almost 40,000 Canadian soldiers had rotated through the Balkans in the service of peace from 1992 to 2003 – 200 of them have been Calgary Highlanders.

This is the end of the virtual tour; other displays in the Calgary Highlanders museum include an interactive video terminal with wartime documentary newsreel footage showing the Canadian Army in action in World War Two. As well, the artwork of acclaimed Canadian military artist Ron Volstad is displayed on the outer wall of the Calgary Highlanders gallery, showing the variety of uniforms worn by the regiment from inception until the 1970s.

It is anticipated that displays featuring artifacts from Calgary Highlanders serving in Afghanistan will be prepared for public consumption in due course.

Major Stu Moore of the Calgary Highlanders, whom this gallery is dedicated to, is shown at in the Khyber Pass in 1950 as part of Canada’s very first peacekeeping mission, called the United Nations Mission Observer Group India Pakistan (UNMOGIP).

The Calgary Highlanders Museum is located in

The Military Museums at:
4520 Crowchild Trail SW
Calgary AB T2T 5J4

By Car

We are across Crowchild Trail from Currie Barracks and Mount Royal College in the beautiful neighbourhood of Garrison Woods. Take Crowchild Trail to Flanders Avenue and head east. Turn right onto Amiens Road and follow the signs.

By Transit

Four bus stops are within three blocks of The Military Museums. Take 7 or 107 South Calgary, 13 Mount Royal, or 63 Lakeview Express.
Six additional Calgary Transit bus stops are within six blocks of The Military Museums. Take 72 or 73 circle route, 18 Lakeview, 20 Heritage/Northmount, 181 MRC North Express or 182 MRC South Express.
School bus routes near The Military Museums are available to all transit customers. For a complete list of departure and arrival times visit www.calgarytransit.com and click on school service. Routes are 1 Bishop Carrol 181, 182, 699 and Central Memorial 699, 731, 732, 733, 734, and 735. School bus routes typically depart between 7 AM to 8:30 AM and return from 2:30 to 7 PM.

Please check out The Military Museums website for hours of operation and admission fees. 

The Military Museums

Please use this form to contact the Calgary Highlanders Museum Curator.

Thank You.

 

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