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 1937.
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
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.
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A Century Of Rifles