Saturday, 23 August 2014


On August 23 1914, the Regiment celebrated its first formal parade at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa. With the mobilization process complete, it was time for the Regiment to be presented to Canadians through a church parade.

It was a simple but poignant service and emotions ran high for these men that had come to serve again as they expected to be sailing overseas within the week. A sense of patriotism and loyalty to the new found Regiment heightened the intensity of the occasion. 

There was a keen awareness of the Regiment's unique spirit which served to enhance the men's dedication and pride. A greatly adored Princess graciously consented to give her name to the Regiment and would serve as their Colonel in Chief. Even the unusual title of 'Light Infantry', established by Gault, contributed to the prestige. The title of Princess Patricia's Light Infantry was made complete with the addition of the designation 'Canadian' added by Sam Hughes.

Princess Patricia presented the men with a colour which she herself had designed and crafted which they proudly marched past to "Blue Bonnets Over the Border" played by their pipe band. It was not meant to be an official Regimental Colour approved by the College of Heralds, but was intended It featured a maroon flag with a gold fringe with a dark blue circle at the centre. Princess Patricia stitched her cipher ‘VP’, for ‘Victoria Patricia’ in gold thread within the blue circle simply to mark headquarters of the Battalion in the field and, unlike a Regimental Colour, could be taken into battle with them.

Presentation of Colours Lansdowne Park August 23, 1914

Princess Patricia would later recount, “I was very anxious to give the Battalion some present to take overseas and I first thought of a set of Bugles, since these seemed suitable to a Light Infantry regiment; but Colonel Farquhar much wished for a Camp Colour instead, such as the Brigade of Guards have; so a Camp Colour it was. There seemed no possibility of getting one made in the short time of two weeks which was available - so I set to work to design and work the Colour myself - I had never done any work of this kind before, and had no idea how to do it - so I just did it the best way I could! - and with the best materials I could obtain in the short time. The staff, too, was home-made being fashioned by our house carpenter from walnut wood grown in Government House grounds.”
Presentation of Colours Lansdowne Park August 23, 1914
It held much greater power, however, than a mere camp colour to the Regiment. Soon known affectionately as the Ric-A-Dam-Doo, it attained an almost mystical significance as the Regiment carried it with them into every battle which it fought in the First World War. However, tattered and torn, it was given special recognition throughout the British forces fighting in Europe and consecrated as the Regimental Colour after the war, in February 1919, in a ceremony on a snow covered Belgiun Parade ground. 

The meaning of the name Ric-A-Dam-Doo is mysterious. One explanation suggests that the name was rooted in the Highland traditions of the British Black Watch. The Black Watch Regimental Colours were called the rikk u dan du, a Gaelic term meaning “the cloth of our mother.” This theory goes further to suggest that former members of the Black Watch serving with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry gave the Camp Colour its name. 

When the Colour was presented by the Princess at Lansdowne, she declared “I have great pleasure in presenting you with these colours, which I have worked myself. I hope they will be associated with what I believe will be a distinguished corps. I shall follow the fortunes of you all with the deepest interest, and I heartily wish every man good luck and a safe return.”