Thursday, 28 August 2014


Seventeen days since the first recruiting posters went up Gault and Farquhar’s objective had been achieved. 

Parade through Ottawa Streets
The entire Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, dressed in their khaki uniforms with combat webbing, and led by their pipes, marched through the streets of Ottawa to the train station. Among the many well-wishers present that day to see the Regiment off were Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden, Sam Hughes and Sir Wilfred Laurier, and other government officials. The Duke and Princess Patricia had said farewell to the men privately at Lansdowne Park. 

Parade through Ottawa Streets

Upon its arrival in Montreal, the Patricia’s again marched through the city’s streets to much fanfare as thousands of people watched the Regiment board the liner Megantic destined for war-torn Europe. The next morning, the ship pulled out of harbour, saluted by the whistles of every other ship, and began its journey to Europe. As they approached Quebec City, however, a signal from Ottawa order them to halt. The Admiralty had declared that no troops would cross the Atlantic unless in convoy. To the great frustration of Gault and Farquhar, the battalion was forced to remain in Quebec City until the First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) set sail for Great Britain. 

Gault was furious, suspecting that Sam Hughes, with a hidden agenda, had chosen to thwart the Patricia’s initiative to charge to the front. Farquhar made the difficult announcement to the men in the mess. Regimental Sergeant Major W.H. Marsden, a Canadian regular soldier, told of the Regiment’s reaction. 

“When we were told at Quebec that we would have to disembark, it is beyond me to describe how the men took it. At one time, it looked like mutiny. The men said they would not leave the ship….Nearly all these men were Reservists from the Army and Navy and could have joined their units if they wished. Colonel Farquhar addressed the Battn. and told us how hard he had tried to have the order cancelled. He told us that the Governor-General had been in contact with the War Office in London but they could not interfere with the Canadian Government….(Hughes) had objected to us going over before his army was raised. He was jealous of the Patricias….The minister never once visited us and I am glad he did not do so, the Battn. would have booed him. We were ordered to go to Valcartier camp and wait for his 35,000 troops to assemble there. Colonel Farquhar told us he would not take us to Valcartier, he would take the regiment to Camp Levis or take us back to Ottawa.”

Whether or not Hughes was behind the order for the CEF to sail in convoy, including the Patricia’s, the men were certainly convinced he had. To maintain morale, Farquhar arranged for the battalion to disembark at Camp Levis instead of entering the chaos at Valcartier under Hughes’ command. Gault and Farquhar made the best of the situation and took the opportunity to intensify training drills and further prepare the men. 

PPCLI Troops with Ross Rifles at Levis