King's Own Royal Regiment Museum


Museum & Collections
Contact Us

17th Century
18th Century
19th Century
20th Century
First World War
Second World War
Actions & Movements
Battle Honours

Further Reading


Regimental History

The 2nd/4th King’s Own Royal Regiment In Halifax, Nova Scotia

The King’s Own: Halifax, Nova Scotia, North British America: 20th April 1866 to 25th June 1868.
Citadel Barracks, 21st April 1866 to 29 April 1867
Wellington Barracks, 30th April 1867 to 29th April 1868
Citadel Barracks, 30th April 1868 to 25th June 1868

The 2nd Battalion of the King’s Own Royal Regiment arrived in Halifax on board the troopship ‘Tamar’ on the morning of 20th April 1866. They disembarked at 3 p.m. the next day and after being inspected by the Town Major, Colonel Ansell, marched to their assigned quarters at the Citadel. The ‘Acadian Recorder’ observed that “The men of the 4th give evidence of their appearance of having passed some years in the extreme heat of the Mediterranean Isle [Malta]”. The ‘Morning Chronicle’ called them “a body of fine looking soldiers.”

Immediately upon disembarkation two companies of the regiment, consisting of Major James Paton, Lieutenant Laurence and six other officers and a hundred a thirty-one other ranks, were detached and sent to Prince Edward Island, via Windsor, Saint John and Shediac. A letter written in March 1867 from the commander in chief in Nova Scotia, Sir Hastings Doyle, to the Lieutenant Governor, Dundas, requesting their return to Halifax, tells us why they were sent to the island:
“I beg leave to inform your Excellency [wrote Doyle]…. that it appears to me that the services of the Detachment stationed at Charlottetown have during their residence there been so seldom required (and for many month past) not at all to aid the Civil Power in enforcing the payment of rents by the Tenants to the Proprietors of the Land for which purpose to the Field Marshall Commg. in Chief with a view to the [withdrawal] of the Detachment 2/4 Regt. now stationed at Charlottetown, the services of the men of the Detachment being urgently required at Halifax to assist in completing the Works of Defence in the harbour…..”

The men were back in Halifax by 1 July 1867

Perhaps a sad commentary on the initial impression that the new accommodation at the Citadel had on the regiment was that on the morning of 24 April, three days after the 2nd/4th had moved in, one of its younger officers, Ensign Charles William Egginton, was found dead in his bed. A coroner ruled that “the deceased…. came to his death by swallowing a solution Cyanide of Potassium and…. that it was a deliberate act on his part during a fit of despondency.”

Egginton was buried with military ceremonies in Fort Massey cemetery the next day.

Evidence of one cause of the battalion’s discomfort at the Citadel is brought to light by a letter from its commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Martin to the Quarter Master General, Halifax, of 16 June 1866.

“As the Officers of the regiment under my command complain that in consequence of the distance of the Mess Kitchen from the Mess Room their dinners are always cold, I have the honour to suggest that a lift be adapted to the Mess Room to communicate with the kitchen immediately below.”

Despite the fact that the officers proposed to pay for the necessary work out of their own mess fund (to be repaid by the War Office later) this request was turned down. Whether such an elevator was ever subsequently installed is not known at this tie. This, however, was only one in a whole series of complaints which finally were to result in the officers’ mess for the regiment occupying the Citadel being moved outside the fort to other quarters in the city in 1878.

Conditions were doubtlessly made even worse for the officers of the 2/4th at the Citadel when, on the night of 20 March 1867, a fire broke out in their mess quarters there. According to the ‘Acadian Recorder’:

“The fire originated in the kitchen of the establishment. The City Steam fire engines were quickly on hand, and through their instrumentality the flames were quickly subdued. Four or five of the rooms were completely gutted and the furniture destroyed”

The problems of the King’s Own at the Citadel came temporarily to an end on 29 April 1867 when the annual exchange of barracks took place between the regiment in the Citadel and that in Wellington Barracks (in this case the 47th). The 4th marched out of the Citadel at 1.30 pm, while the 47th left Wellington at 3 pm. A year later when the exchange occurred again the 2/4th marched back to the Citadel. This time, however, their stay in the fort was comparatively short-lived for they left Halifax for Ireland less than two months later on 25th June.

The garrison routine of the 2/4th in Halifax was basically similar to that of the regiments which garrisoned the city in this period. One exception to the routine was that in September 1867 the battalion was issued with the new breech loading Snider rifles. According to the regimental history “the drill for the new rifle was altogether changed from that used with the old muzzle loader”.

On 12th September 1866 the ‘Acadian Recorder’ announced that: “The Drum and Fife Corps, attached to the 4th King’s Own Royal Regiment will beat a tattoo on the Grand Parade, every alternate evening, at sun-down. This is something new in Halifax, but we believe it is always done in Garrisons towns.”

This type of activity may have been unique to the 2/4th’s stay in Halifax. As the above quote indicates, it had not gone on before they arrived, and there is no evidence of it occurring after they left.

One particular parade which the 2/4th participated in perhaps has a special significance. On 1st July 1867 they were lined up on the Commons along with the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, and the other regiments in garrison, the 47th, “for the purpose of receiving His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor and celebrating the inauguration of the Dominion of Canada.” A twenty one gun salute was fired from the saluting battery at the Citadel, after which a ‘feu de joie’ was fired by the troops.

On 16th June 1868, just over a week before the regiment left, the ‘Chronicle’ recorded that on the previous Sunday, (the 14th) about half part 11 o’clock [pm] a French gentleman residing in Granville Street, while crossing the Citadel on his way home from the house of a friend, where he had been spending the evening, was attacked near the gate of the fort, knocked down and robbed of a valuable gold watch. Information was given at the Police Office, and shortly after the robbery Police Sergeant Hutt arrested George Hooper, a soldier of the 4th Regiment, who was on duty as sentry at the gate, and on his person the watch was found. He is now in jail awaiting examination.

When brought to trial the defence argued that “the complainant had interfered with the accused while on duty as a sentry, and that the latter in attempting to arrest the complainant tore the watch from him.” On 23rd June the Stipendiary Magistrate dismissed the case, ruling that the evidence was not strong enough to commit the accused for trial.

On 21st June 1868 the 30th Regiment of Foot arrived to replace the 2/4th King’s Own. The latter sailed from the port on board the troopship ‘Himalaya’ on 25th June. According to the ‘Acadian Recorder’ they took with them 554 men, 64 women, 5 children over ten years of age, 16 between five and ten and 39 under five. The ‘Halifax Reporter’ (the only paper to comment in any detail) described their departure:

“The 2nd 4th (King’s Own) Regiment marched from the Citadel Barracks this morning at 9.30 headed by their own Band and the bands of the 47th and 30th, to H.M. Dockyard where they embarked on the troop-ship ‘Himalaya’ for Dublin. The 4th carry with them the best wishes of our citizens. Since their journey in this garrison, they earned for themselves the reputation of a well conducted body of men. Both officers and privates leave behind them a large circle of friends and acquaintances. We wish them a safe and pleasant voyage.”

For more information we recommend The King's Own The Story of a Royal Regiment Volume 2 1814-1914 by Colonel Lionel I Cowper - the best history of the King's Own.  On a CD-rom, viewable through a computer.  Price including UK postage £12.75

Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

© 2012 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum