The Minute Book
Thursday, 18 July 2013

Changes at Wolseley Barracks
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

It only took about two weeks after the construction fencing surrounded three buildings at Wolseley Barracks for the eagle-eyed sleuths of the local media to pick up on the fact that things were about to change.

On Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, the headline news story for the London Free Press, accompanied by leading news on local radio stations, was the impending destruction of eight buildings in three stages. The three buildings now in contractors' hands constitute Phase I of the operations. Phases II and III will occur, as military planners say "on order."

16 Jul 2013 - Eight buildings at Wolseley Barracks to be demolished, The Free Press has learned

18 Jul 2013 - The London North Centre Conservative MP learned of her party’s plan to demolish much of Wolseley Barracks by reading Free Press article

In summary, the three groups of buildings on the chopping block (current and planned) are:


Phase I, in RED:

  • A – The Officer's Quarters: Most recently used as temporary quarters for base personnel.
  • B – The Warrant Officer's and Sergeant's Quarters: Most recently used as housing for visiting groups and for courses run by 31 Canadian Brigade Group, replacement resources for these will have to be funded from the respective budgets where applicable, in the latter case either to rent quarters, or to transport personnel to other DND locations where quarters are available and conduct training there.
  • C – The Glacis Building: Last employed as the Headquarters for 31 Service Battalion, which moved into the Base HQ building when the ASU London command cell was dismantled.

Phase II, in YELLOW:

(The rumoured plan is that the Drill Hall will be reconfigured/reconstructed to hold new versions of each Mess.)

Phase III, in BLUE:

  • G – "P" Block: Used as a Unit Transport Section storage and work area for units in the garrison.
  • H – "O" Block, The Royal School Building: Used as a training facility for all units, this structure also houses the 31 Canadian Brigade Group Battle School which conducts training courses throughout the year.

Unfortunately, while Wolseley Hall itself is protected as a National Historic Site, the next oldest building on base, the Royal School Building is only designated as a "Recognized Federal Heritage Building" which is insufficient at this time to preserve it from the developing plan.


While the buildings may be disappearing, each of them supports functions that will have to be moved elsewhere within the base, and possibly reduced in scale to achieve that. With the predicted demise of the Royal School Building and the possible re-allocation of much or all of the Drill Hall, London may be the only Reserve Garrison in Southwestern Ontario without a drill floor large enough for any unit to hold a ceremonial parade indoors. That is a big change from the days when the Canadian Fusiliers paraded in the Dundas Street Armoury or, more recently, when the 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment held a recent change of command parade in the current Drill Hall. Interesting times are ahead for Wolseley Barracks. Bullets may need to be bitten, but the prospect of doing so is seldom looked forward to with eager anticipation.


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 18 July 2013 8:17 AM EDT
Monday, 24 June 2013

Wolseley Barracks (1958)
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

With the rebuilding of Wolseley Barracks in London, Ontario, through the 1950s, the base became ready to house a Regular Force battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment in its new infrastraucture, and would do so until 1992. The image below, from the regimental journal of The Royal Canadian Regiment, The Connecting File, Winter 1958-59, shows the base as it was by 1958/59. (Click on the image for a larger version). Following are an explanation of the names of some of the buildings, this has been transcribed as printed and some fact-checking on details of regimental history are recommended before using them verbatim.

 

Wolseley Barracks; 1958

Names of Buildings Wolseley Barracks

Listed hereunder are the approved names of the buildings in Wolseley Barracks, these names now being in use, also, the explanation of their origin.

McKenzie Block (No. 1 Barrack Block)

Named after Thomas McKenzie, who was the first recruit in the Infantry School Corps in Jan 7, 1884. He served for 12 years as CSM of "A" Coy with the Corps.

Wellington Block (No. 2 Barrack Block)

Named after Wellington Barracks in Halifax, which was occupied by members of the Regiment from 1900 to 1940.

Stanley Block (No. 3 Barrack Block)

Named after Stanley Barracks in Toronto, which was occupied by members of The Regiment from 1899 to 1950, and was the former location of "B" Coy RCR.

Tecumseh Block (No. 4 Barrack Block)

Named after Tecumseh Barracks, London, Ont., they were the former World War 1 Barracks in London and location of HQ & "C" Coy of the Regiment from after World War 1 until The Regiment moved back into Wolseley Barracks Apr 1923.

St. Jean Block (No. 5 Barrack Block)

Named after Fort St Jean, Quebec, which was the original location of "B" Coy Infantry School Corps, 1884. "D" Coy of The Regiment also moved into the barracks from Montreal in Oct 1925, and remained there until Dec. 1939.

Glacis Building (Lecture & Training Building)

Named after Glacis Barracks, Halifax, NS. These barracks were occupied by members of 3 (Special Service) Bn RCR from 1900 to 1904, and were torn down in 1946.

Gloucestershire Hall (PT & Rec Building)

This gymnasium was thusly named to commemorate our affiliation with The Gloucestershire Regiment.

Victoria Building ( Administrative Building)

Named after Victoria Barracks in Camp Petawawa, Ont., which was occupied by 1 & 2 Bns RCR before their move back to London.

Beaver Hall (Drill Hall)

Since the Beaver is part of our collar badge, and denotes "Work" we feel is is most appropriate for the Drill Hall, in which most of our training is conducted.

New Fort Hall (No. 1 Mess Hall)

Named after New Fort Barracks, which was first occupied by "C" Coy, Toronto, Infantry School Corps, 1 Apr 1884.

Prince of Wales Hall (No. 2 Mess Hall)

Named after Prince of Wales Barracks in Montreal, which was occupied by "D" Coy RCR after World War 1, until their move to St Jean, Que., in 1924. This barracks has since been torn down.

Wolseley Block ("A" Block)

This name was taken from the inscription on the corner stone.


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Wolseley Barracks, London, Ontario, the 1950s
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

Thanks to the University of Western Ontario, we can explore the development of London through their online publication of local aerial photos. Among their resources can be found a series of images taken of London's urban area in the 1950s, including the neighbourhoods covering and surrounding Wolseley Barracks.

Wolseley Barracks, created in 1886 on property formerly owned by the Carling family, saw the construction of Wolseley Hall between 1886 and 1888 and the occupation of the barracks by "D" Company of the Canadian Infantry School Corps in 1888. The Infantry School Corps has become The Royal Canadian Regiment, which had had a continuous presence in London since the 1880s and still recognizes Wolseley Barracks as its Home Station today. Today the 4th Battalion of the Regiment and The RCR Museum remain quartered in Wolseley Hall.

In these aerial photos taken in 1950 and 1955, we can see the development and growth of the buildings at Wolseley Barracks in the post Second World War decade. During the War, Wolseley Barracks was the home of No. 1 District Depot which saw Canadian servicemen at the start and the end of their service, passing through Wolseley Barracks for some of their training and then again for discharge. The RCR, which always maintained a foothold in Wolseley Barracks, returned in strength with a battalion of soldiers in 1952, necessitating the rebuilding of the base to replace the Second World War era hutments with new modern barracks, kitchen, headquarters and supporting services buildings.

1950

In 1950, the base area looks much as it did at the close of the Second World War. Filling a good share of the base property are Second World War "H Huts," construction of which started in 1941. These buildings, named for their distictive shape were, in their simplest use, two long open barracks joined in the centre by washrooms and utility areas. These will be familiar to anyone who has served on almoat any Canadian Army base from that era to the 1990s, and some are probably still standing around the country.

1955

By 1955 we see the change of the base to the look it would have in until the 1990s. The H-Huts are starting to disappear and new buildings have been going up. In the lower right corner of the base is the building that will be the bataliosn maintenance hangar, above that three barracks blocks and a kitchen building are starting to circle an area that will soon be a newly paved parade square. In the centre of the base, the white-roofed "U" cshaped building will house base and battalion headquarters and the large "U" shaped building at top centre will be another barracks, holding 500 men when packed with four soldiers to a barrack room (spacious accommodations indeed after the bunkbeds found in the older H-Huts). yet to apear in this image are the chapels, the base gymnasium, new Mess buildings for the Officers, the Warrant Officers and Sergeants and the Junior Ranks.

The aerial photos at Western Libraries Map and Data Centre are provided with the following source data:


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 25 April 2013

Wolseley Barracks, London, Ontario, the 1940s
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

Thanks to the University of Western Ontario, we can explore the development of London through their online publication of local aerial photos. Among their resources can be found a series of images taken of London's urban area in the 1940s, including the neighbourhoods covering and surrounding Wolseley Barracks.

Wolseley Barracks, created in 1886 on property formerly owned by the Carling family, saw the construction of Wolseley Hall between 1886 and 1888 and the occupation of the barracks by "D" Company of the Canadian Infantry School Corps in 1888. The Infantry School Corps has become The Royal Canadian Regiment, which has had a continuous presence in London since the 1880s and still recognizes Wolseley Barracks as its Home Station today. Today the 4th Battalion of the Regiment and The RCR Museum remain quartered in Wolseley Hall.

In these aerial photos taken during and just after the Second World War, we can see the development and growth of the buildings at Wolseley Barracks during this very busy period for the base. During the War, Wolseley Barracks was the home of No. 1 District Depot which saw Canadian servicemen at the start and the end of their service, passing through Wolseley Barracks for some of their training and then again for discharge.

1942

The 1942 arial photo shows the base area as still mostly open ground. Now bounded on the east by a solid row of civilian housing on Sterling Street, that boundary plus Oxford Street on the North, Elizabeth Street on the west and the rail tracks to the south will be the familiar base property for generations of Canadian soldiers who served in London. The base area is still anchored on its west boundary by the (still-standing) buildings of the old Quartermaster's stores in the lower left corner (now found behind McMahen Park) and by Wolseley Hall in the upper left (the home of the 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, the 1st Hussars, and The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum).

Most of the First World War generation of buildings are gone in this image, starting to be replaced by the ubiquitous Second World War "H Huts," construction of which started in 1941. These buildings, named for their distictive shape were, in their simplest use, two long open barracks joined in the centre by washrooms and utility areas. These will be familiar to anyone who has served on almoat any Canadian Army base from that era to the 1990s, and some are probably still standing around the country. In the upper right of the base area, tent lines can be seen as the need for housing easily outstripped available barracks space.

1945

By 1945 we find more "H-Huts" filling in the base, the tent lines are now gone and more training facilities have been created, the majority of these having been completed by the end of 1942. By 1946, over 30,000 servicemen would return through Wolseley Barracks for demoilization. The turning point in the function of District Depot No. 1 was V-E Day, when the emphasis changed from enrolment of recruits to discharging returning servicemen.

The aerial photos at Western Libraries Map and Data Centre are provided with the following source data:


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 25 April 2013 1:03 AM EDT
Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Wolseley Barracks, London, Ontario - 1922
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

Thanks to the University of Western Ontario, we can explore the development of London through their online publication of local aerial photos. Among their resources can be found a series of images taken of London's urban area in 1922, including the neighbourhoods covering and surrounding Wolseley Barracks.

These 1922 aerial photos show London a few years after the end of the First World War and the composite shown above displays the area occupied by Canadian Forces Base London, long known as Wolseley Barracks. In the photo above we can still see the well-worn paths made by thousands of soldiers as they marched between barracks and training locations. The Quartermasters' stores building on the lower left (still standing behind McMahen Park) has a compound still full of military stores, above it is a long gone building, probably a headquarters or officers quarters from the round driveway in front of it. The white square in the centre of the image, on close inspection, appears to be a baseball diamond, proof that leisure activities were never completely neglected in training. Except for Wolseley Hall itself in the upper left and the QM Stores building, all the buildings shown are gone, the base having been reconstructed during the Second World War and again in the 1950s with some newer buildings after that period. Since then, the base was reduced in size in the 1990s and the lower third of the image now contains a housing development while the upper right quadrant is occupied by a major grocery store.

Wolseley Barracks, created in 1886 on property formerly owned by the Carling family, saw the construction of Wolseley Hall between 1886 and 1888 and the occupation of the barracks by "D" Company of the Canadian Infantry School Corps in 1888. The Infantry School Corps has become The Royal Canadian Regiment, which had had a continuous presence in London since the 1880s and still recognizes Wolseley Barracks as its Home Station today. Today the 4th Battalion of the Regiment and The RCR Museum remain quartered in Wolseley Hall.

The base property at Wolseley Barracks had one of its busiest periods during the First World War when it was used as a training camp for many units that were formed in south-western Ontario. Panoramic photos of infantry battalions ready to leave Canada for England can be found with Wolseley Hall in the background as they formed up for the photo on the open training ground south east of that very recognizable building.

The 1922 aerial photos at Western Libraries Map and Data Centre are provided with the following source data:

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 19 November 2016 9:45 AM EST
Saturday, 23 March 2013

How Carling Farm became Wolseley Barracks
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

On 2 June 1886, during budget discussions in the Canadian House of Commons, the topic of an appropriation for the new Infantry School Corps building in London was raised. $30,000 was being requested to continue with the proposed infrastructure for the establishment of "D" Company at what would become Wolseley Barracks.

Members of Parliament who are quoted below are:

  • The Hon. Joseph Philippe René Adolphe Caron, P.C.; Conservative Member for Quebec County, Quebec (Appointment at the time of this session: Minister of Militia and Defence)
  • The Hon. Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, P.C., Q.C., C.B.; Conservative Member for Three Rivers, Quebec. (Appointment at the time of this session: Minister of Public Works 1879 – 1891)
  • The Right Hon. Sir William Mulock, P.C.; Liberal Member for York North, Ontario
  • The Hon. Edward Blake, P.C., Q.C.; Liberal Member for Durham West, Ontario

House of Commons of the Dominion of Canada
Fourth Session – Fifth Parliament

2 June 1886

London Infantry School – $30,000

Mr. Blake – Will the hon. gentleman explain the vote of $30,000 for the London Infantry School?

Sir Hector Langevin – It is to enable the chief architect to carry on the work of the proposed new barracks. The cost of the barrack building, including furnishing, heating, etc., is estimated at $75,000; then there is $3,600 for the architect and $2,000 for the clerk of works, the total estimated cost being $81,000.

Mr. Blake – Has the hon. gentleman received any information as to difficulties with the drainage of the site of the school.

Sir Hector Langevin – I have not.

Mr. Blake – It has been stated in the papers that there are serious difficulties, and that pile driving will have to be resorted to in order to overcome them.

Mr. Carling – The architect was in the city yesterday, and he says that the difficulty can be overcome by the construction of a drain.

Mr. Blake – I suppose this is the property as to which the tripartite agreement was made some time ago, under which the city bought some property from the Minister of Agriculture, and the hon gentleman took that property and gave the city some other property?

Sir Adolphe Caron – Yes

Mr. Blake – Will the hon. gentleman state the nature of the arrangement?

Sir Adolphe Caron – In 1884, on the recommendation of General Middleton, it was determined to establish an Infantry School in London. The citizens of London were very adverse to the school being established on the Government Property, for reasons which they set forth. Upon that recommendation, three sites were offered, the Geary site, the Kent Site, and the Carling farm. The matter was submitted to the brigade major of the district, and he recommended the Carling farm as the most suitable. The offer made to the city was $10,000 in cash and a deed of 16 acres of land of Government property and the right to use some 90 acres adjoining for camping purposes for 20 years, for 8 acres of land now used as our military property. The proposition was approved by Order in Council; but it had to be submitted to a vote of the ratepayers of London, who rejected it. Subsequently, however, the city made a new proposition, that they would give a free deed of fifty-five acres of the Carling farm within city limits, which has been used as a military camp-ground for many years, for eight acres of the Government property referred to in the former proposition. This proposition was again referred to the brigade major, and was referred by him to Mr. George Durand, a well-known architect of London, on the 26th of April, 1885. A valuation of the two properties was sent in by him. The Government property was estimated at $141, 355 and the fifty–five acres of the Carling farm were estimated at $46,000. I was not satisfied to take this valuation; I wanted to get more than one, and the proposition was again submitted to the valuation Mr. McElheran, and auctioneer and valuator, and Mr. William M. Ward, a real estate agent, and these gentlemen reported the value of the Government property at $39,030, and the fifty-five acres of the Carling farm at $44,000. This subsequent offer of exchange was referred to the council and approved, and the exchange has been made, and the contract for the building let, and the work is now going on. I will bring down and lay on the Table all the papers.

Mr. Blake – Is Mr. Durand the architect of the building now?

Sir Hector Langevin – Yes.

Mr. Blake – It has been represented outside, from time to time, that this institution, which is to be erected in or near London, is to be analogous to the Kingston College.

Sir Adolphe Caron. – No; it is to be analogous to the School of Infantry, Toronto.


Although Mr Durand is identified above as the architect for the new Infantry School in London, the building was designed by Henry James, Chief Architect for the Militia Department. (With thanks to Dr Georgiana Stanciu, Curator of The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, for this confirmation.)


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 23 March 2013 2:42 PM EDT

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