The volunteer policy which led to the formation of the Halifax Rifles has been followed closely
through the years, and membership in the corps has been sought by many men who have since
reached the highest positions and won great distinction in the social, professional, commercial and
political life of our country. To mention only a few of such men - Dr. Charles Tupper, first medical
officer of the Rifles, became Premier of Nova Scotia, one of the Fathers of Confederation, and later
Sir Charles Tupper.
Prime Minister of Canada; Sir Robert Laird Borden, a private in the Scottish Company and after some
service in the ranks qualifying for commissioned rank, later became Prime Minister of Canada from
1911 to 1921, covering the period of the First Great War. To Sir Robert is given the credit for the
recognition of the Dominions as equal partners in the British Commonwealth; and he was also the
author of the advanced labour legislation enacted at the Geneva Convention after the end of
hostilities in 1918. Sir Robert served as Honorary Colonel of his Regiment from 1912 until his death in
His Grace Archbishop Thomas Louis Connolly, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Halifax, at his own
request, had his name inscribed on the roll of the Halifax Rifles Company in May 1860. Strange as it
may seem today, the greatest threat to our freedom at that time came from our neighbours to the
south, for it was feared that the victorious northern armies of the United States would be directed
against Canada. Archbishop Connolly in 1865 wrote:
"There is no sensible or unprejudiced man in the community who does not see that vigorous and
timely preparation is the only possible means of saving us from the horrors of war ... To be fully
prepared is the only practical argument that can have a weight with a powerful enemy, and make him
pause beforehand and count the cost."
* * *
Difference in political views did not stop the giants on the political stage of the early years from
joining the Halifax Rifles for training in defense of their country. Along with Sir Charles Tupper in the
regiment was that great leader in the fight for responsible government, Joseph Howe, who became
Premier of his native province, and later Lieutenant-Governor. He was a member of the Mayflower
Rifles. At the same time Hon. James W. Johnstone was a Captain in the original "Dartmouth Rifles";
he became Premier of Nova Scotia, and later a Judge of the Supreme Court. These three-Johnstone,
Howe, Tupper-were giants in the political life of the Province of Nova Scotia.
Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper (son of Sir Charles Tupper), who contributed greatly to the political life of
Canada in the latter part of the last century, was a Lieutenant in the "Scottish Company", while His
Honour J. Norman Ritchie passed through all the ranks in the same Company and became
Lieut.-Colonel commanding the Halifax Rifles.
Both the Honourable Robert Irwin and the Honourable Frederick F. Mathers, K.C., each of whom
became Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, served in the ranks of the "Scottish Rifles" Company.
The Honourable Mr. Mathers served as Honorary Colonel of the Rifles from 1942 until 1947. The Hon.
P. C. Hill, who was Mayor of Halifax in 1862 and Premier of his native province in 1875, was an original
member of the Halifax Rifles. That great advocate of Maritime rights and the man who sparked the
development of the tourist industry in Canada, Senator the Hon. William H. Dennis, was for several
years an officer in the Rifles.
Angus L. Macdonald, an officer in the Halifax Rifles on reorganization in 1920- after his return from
the battlefield service-contributed much during that trying period towards the disciplined efficiency
of the Rifles. He became Premier of Nova Scotia in 1933 and in 1940 was called to Ottawa to become
Minister of Naval Affairs. His record of service is well known to all Canadian she took a service in
swaddling clothes and in a few months developed it into a magnificent fighting force that was able to
take its place in the "Battle of the Atlantic" and receive well-merited commendation from our
co-partners in that most vital link of victory-the United States and Great Britain. He returned to his
native Province and again assumed the Premiership in 1945 and served in that office until his
passing in 1954. From 1948 to 1954 he served his old regiment -the Halifax Rifles- as Honorary
Colonel. Truly he was an exemplar of our motto-Cede Nullis (Yield to none).
In this the year of our centenary we are not unmindful of what these great leaders have meant to the
regiment. Many others could be named who have made a great contribution in the life of our city,
province and dominion. Down across the century the Rifles have never forgotten that they were
formed as a defense force for protection of our country, and those who have given active leadership
to this regiment trace our success to the fact that our first Colonel was that great
soldier-Lieut.-General Sir William Fenwick Williams, Bart, of Kars.
A Century Of