Postwar Period

Postwar Period

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Sir Robert Borden with the Canadian Troops 2

The Film











Running Time
04 min 51 s

War Office Cinema Committee

These images were filmed at Shorncliffe, a town on the south coast of England. The town became the base for the Canadian Reinforment Depot in 1915. Canadian troops had spent the unusually cold winter of 1914-15 living in tents on Salisbury Plain, and the barrack accommodations at Shorncliffe, visible in the footage, would have been a great improvement.

The footage documents a visit to Shorncliffe by Canada’s Prime Minister, Sir Robert Borden, and Minister of Militia and Defence, Sam Hughes. We see Borden and Hughes as they review a parade of Canadian cavalry, infantry and hospital units. The three infantry units, together numbering 1000 officers and men, were the 3rd, 8th and 11th Reserve Infantry Battalions. Following the infantry are ambulances and trucks from the Queen’s Hospital in Beechford. The word “Canada” appears on some of the vehicles.

We then see the Canadian cavalry regiment, tasked with training Canadian cavalry units for the front. Officers salute by lowering their swords, while non-commissioned ranks give the “eyes-right.” Higher-ranking officers within the infantry and all senior commanders also had horses as a sign of their status. Also visible are the Royal Canadian Artillery Brigade, who remain to this day Canada’s regular force artillerymen.

Borden was prime minister from 1911 to 1920. In 1916 he committed Canada to providing 500,000 troops for the war effort—a decision which led to the 1917 Military Service Act, allowing the government to conscript men for overseas service. Conscription sparked widespread protest in Quebec and was the biggest domestic political crisis of the war years.

Hughes, the large man on the black horse, was an enthusiastic supporter of the war effort and is credited with the rapid assembly of the first Canadian forces. However, he was an abrasive, erratic and intransigent figure. In late 1916, following a series of scandals over shoddy war supplies and patronage, Hughes found himself at the eye of a political storm that triggered his dismissal from cabinet.

With regards to the crowd observing the proceedings, it is worth noting that many Canadian officers and soldiers were first-generation British immigrants, and in the eyes of the British public, the distinction between Canadian and British was blurred. It is possible that some audience members were the relatives of men on parade.


Sir Robert Laird Borden Sir Robert Borden Speaking to a Canadian Brigade During a Visit to the Front Sir Robert Borden Inspecting Troops at Fletcher’s Field, 1914 Troops of the 73rd Battalion RHC, CEF Marching Past King George V and Field Marshall Lord French at Hankley Common, July 1, 1916 General Sam Hughes, Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence, 1914-1916.

Other Materials

Sir Robert Borden

Sir Samuel Hughes

Teaching Materials

Create a Wartime Newspaper