Canada and The Boer War (South African War 1899-1902)



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Canada and The Boer War

(South African War 1899-1902)

β€œWhile it was the cause of the British Empire that had first inspired their participation, once in South Africa Canadians developed a profound sense of distinctiveness from their imperial counterparts that nourished feelings of national pride and a sense of independent military identity.” -Dr. Cameron Pulsifer


Key factors:

  • Canada's first major international military expedition

  • The war was a result of tension between Great Britain and the Boers

  • Gold was discovered in the Transvaal in 1886

  • The Boers had denied British prospectors political rights

  • Britain regarded the Boers as a thorn in its side as they limited the economic and political opportunities for Britain in the area

  • In 1899 Britain began reinforcing its military garrison in South

  • Africa and when asked to stop by the Transvaal government (Boers) they did not respond to the request

  • October 11, 1899 the Boers declared war


What did this have to do with Canada?


  • Canada had ties to Great Britain- sense of duty

  • PM Sir Wilfred Laurier had reservations about sending Canadians

  • It could set a precedent for Canadian involvement in British conflicts

  • French Canadians did not support the war


What was the Solution?


  • Canada paid for the recruitment and transportation of a small volunteer force

  • Great Britain had to assume all other costs

  • 7368 Canadians served in South Africa.

  • 1004 served as garrison troops in Halifax (so a British battalion could be reassigned to South Africa

  • 89 were killed in action, 135 died of disease, and 252 were wounded.

  • The war was officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging 1902

Pulsifer, Cameron β€œFor Queen and Country, Canadians and the South African War, 1899-1902.” Canadian War Museum, 2005. July 28, 2006


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