Militia Act of 1855

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The Militia Act of 1855, was an Act passed by the Parliament of the Province of Canada, which permitted the formation of an "Active Militia" (later subdivided into the Permanent Active Militia and the Non-Permanent Active Militia). The 5,000 volunteers were armed, equipped and paid 5 shillings a day for 10 days of training a year (20 days for those in the artillery). Captains were paid 10 shillings 6 pence a day.

Initially set at 5,000 men, the Act's popularity forced the government to double its size to 10,000 men by 1856. Trained at the expense of taxpayers, the men had to provide their own uniforms.

The Act divided Canada into 18 military districts. Assisted by volunteer staff officers, each district was commanded by a colonel, while the entire operation was led by Colonel E.P. Taché.

Enthusiasm for the Act waned by 1858 when economic depression occupied the minds of Canadians. In 1860, military spirit was revived by the royal visit of the Prince of Wales. Canadians, Nova Scotians, and New Brunswickers launched their own volunteer units. These companies began to form into battalions that gradually eclipsed the Sedentary Militia. In 1864, the Sedentary Militia was re-styled as the "Non-Service Militia", and in 1869, its battalions were reduced to the "Reserve Militia" of each county. The Reserve Militia was last enrolled in 1873 (but never called out), deferred thereafter, and the theory that every able-bodied man was liable for service was finally abolished in 1950.

Exemption from military service: "Every person bearing a certificate from the Society of Quakers, Mennonites or Tunkers, or any inhabitant of Canada, of any religious denomination, otherwise subject to military duty, but who, from the doctrine of religion, is averse to bearing arms and refuses personal military service, shall be exempt from such service when balloted in time of peace, or war, upon such conditions and under such regulations as the Governor in Council, may, from time to time, prescribe."[1] From 1869 to World War I, several Orders in Council were issued by the government providing "entire exemption" for religious groups that the Canadian government wished to encourage to immigrate to Canada. These were Mennonites from Russia (1873), Doukhobors (1898) and Hutterites (1899).[2]


  • Mills, T.F. "Regiments and Corps of the Canadian Sedentary Militia, 1855". Archived from the original on June 22, 2004.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  • Keleher, John W. (2 November 2001). "Civilian soldiers resisted rebels and raiders". Guelph Mercury. Archived from the original on June 23, 2004.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ewashen, Larry. "Book Reviews". Larry's desk. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  2. ^ "A short history of conscientious objection in Canada". Alternative Service in the Second World War: Conscientious Objectors in Canada, 1939-1945. Mennonite Heritage Centre. Retrieved July 13, 2017.