Over Twenty Years of Service

A HISTORY OF THE COLOURS OF THE RECREATED KING'S ROYAL YORKERS

by Gavin K. Watt

On May 24, 1982, a set of Colours was presented to the 1st Battalion, King's Royal Regiment of New York in a formal ceremony held at historic Fort York in Toronto. The Colours were fashioned in silk with a painted centerpiece to a pattern researched by the noted historian, and regimental member, Private John A. Houlding, Colonel's Company, the author of the much-acclaimed book on the British Army in the late 18th Century entitled, "Fit for Service."

Ironically, no record had been found to confirm that a set of Colours was carried by the original KRR NY. Edward Anderson, one of the unit's founders, recalled finding a reference to Governor Guy Carleton criticizing the regiment's Lieutenant-Colonel, Sir John Johnson, for purchasing Colours before the completion of his battalion; however, this document has never seen the light of day again.

Consequently, Houlding researched a number of Colours carried during the Revolutionary War period. The fundamental elements of the King's and Regimental Colours were dictated in the Royal Warrant of 1768; however, there was a great deal of latitude taken in the design of the decorative wreaths and cartouches which formed the centrepieces of many Colours. Houlding measured and sketched the Colours of the 9th, 12th, 33rd, 55th, 93rd, 103rd and the Queen's Rangers, 1st American Regiment, which had been presented over the years 1771 to 1786. From his extensive examination, Houlding made specific recommendations which were adopted.

The complex work of cutting and piecing the silk material was skillfully performed by Deborah Mills, a noted seamstress and reenactor from Toronto. While Mills was completing her work, a pair of 9'9" staves, with the requisite brass fittings, was custom manufactured by James Alexander of Toronto. After the Colours were assembled, the demanding painting of the wreaths and cartouches on both sides of each Colour was undertaken by Royal Yorker Drummers, Mike Wylie and Garth Armstrong, two talented artists employed by the Toronto Historical Board at historic Fort York.

Although the original 1st Battalion of the Royal Yorkers had been headquartered in and about Montreal during the Revolution, the recreated regiment was without a base in that city, so it was decided that the presentation would be in Toronto at historic Fort York where the unit had enjoyed a particularly warm welcome from the staff over the seven years of its existence.

Of course, with Regular Force and Reserve regiments, the presentation of Colours is always a gala event with support from Defence Headquarters, the regimental family, the local community and media and often a representative of the Crown. Naturally, the recreated Royal Yorkers wished to stage a similarly grand event, but the reality of only being an amateur military formation dictated otherwise. Many members of the United Empire Loyalists' Association had become staunch friends and supporters. Two of their Dominion Executive members, who were descendants of the original regiment and honorary officers of the recreated regiment, were invited to make the presentation. The Honorary Major, Colonel Judge John R. Matheson UE, a former Federal cabinet minister, represented the Crown and presented the King's Colour. Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel Mrs. Elizabeth Blair UE, past UEL Dominion Genealogist, presented the Regimental Colour. Special guests were Mary Beacock Fryer UE, a noted author of several books about the loyalists, and her husband Geoffrey and Judge Matheson's son Murdock.

The conduct of the ceremony was researched with the Director of Ceremonial at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa by Captain Robert Anglin, 2RCR, a Serjeant in the Colonel's Company.

The ceremony was held on Sunday, May 23, 1982. A record turnout of sixty-one troops and eighteen regimental followers and refugees were under the command of Captain-Lieutenant Gavin K. Watt. Nine soldiers were Light Infantrymen led by 1st Lieutenant William Severin, thirty-seven were Hatmen of the Colonel's Company led by 1st Lieutenant Edward Anderson and thirteen composed a superb Drum corps under the direction of Drum Major William Henry.

The very next day was a holiday and featured the annual Military Festival at Fort York where the Royal Yorkers' new Colours were given their first public exposure in Vice-Regal style when Ontario's Lieutenant-Governor, John Black Aird inspected the troops.

*****

Over the following two decades, the Royal Yorkers' Colours were flown at a great number of historical celebrations and venues, but none were more important than two appearances for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1984 - Ontario's bicentennial year. The first of these occurred at mid-week at Fort Wellington in Prescott and saw a new record turnout of seventy-five troops and twenty-five followers, including a battalion 3 pounder brass 'Grasshopper' Gun and 4.2" 'Cohorn' flatbed mortar. Regimental members were deeply honoured when Her Majesty rose to greet the Colours during a formal march past. Shortly thereafter, the regiment was caught entirely off guard (and delighted) when the Royal party made an unscheduled inspection. The second appearance occurred two days later in Toronto at a massive Reserve Army Tattoo at Exhibition Stadium. Once again, the men were flattered when the Queen and her Consort waved most specifically in their direction as they were driven out of the stadium in a carriage.

In keeping with historical precedent, the KRR Colours have not been fielded with small detachments, unless they were required for a Colour guard. For several years, in the spirit of maintaining the absolute maximum number of bayonets in the line, the regiment's junior officers - the Ensigns - who were responsible for carrying the Colours - were appointed on a temporary basis. More frequently, they served in the ranks as Gentlemen Volunteers in the absence of the Colours. In more recent times, the permanently appointed Ensigns have stepped back into the line as required.

The following is a list of the regiment's Ensigns who have served since the 1982 presentation of the Colours. Historically, as there were no Ensigns in the Grenadier Company, the company's Second Lieutenant has been assigned to that role. It should be noted that the Colours have often been carried by senior commissioned officers, Serjeants and Volunteers in the absence of the Ensigns.

 

Name & Rank 
Appointed
From which Company
Present Duty
Ens Denis Bourget
81.09.26
Colonel's
Volunteer, Duncan's Coy
Ens Ian Anderson
83.11.01
Colonel's
retired
Ens Syl Haase
85.06.29
Colonel's 
retired, deceased
Ens Daniel Moreau
85.06.30
Major's
1Lieut, Duncan's Coy
2Lieut Duff Steele
89.03.15
Grenadiers
2Lieut, Grenadiers
Ens John Moore
93.02.17
Colonel's
Ens, Duncan's Coy

 

During a Tour of England in 1987, an accident occurred at Tilbury Fort when the Colours were paraded in abnormally tight circumstances. The detachment was demonstrating alternate line firings when a strong gust of wind snapped the Regimental Colour across the face of the right platoon and the lower right canton was disintegrated in a discharge. Fortunately, this damage was easily repaired by Loyal Refugee Nancy Watt who sewed in a large rectangular piece upon our return to Canada.

By 1999, the Colours had become extremely frail. The King's Colour had torn edges along the fly, which were readily repaired by Watt, but the body of the flag exhibited stress separations. The same was also true of the Regimental Colour and its lower left canton had separated from the staff sleeve. Again, Watt made repairs, but these were recognized as temporary only. Due to this general deterioration, it was decided to commission a new set of Colours and, in the interim, not to field the old set except on particularly important occasions.

Through the assistance of Radford Polinsky, officer commanding the 33rd Regt of Foot (British Brigade) and confirmed by Duncan's Company Serjeant, Eric Fernberg, a curator of the Canadian War Museum, that our 1981 choice of weave of silk cloth had been incorrect. Radford was particularly helpful in locating a source of proper silk faille and a quantity was imported from California.

Dianne Sharp, master seamstress to the Royal Yorkers, was given the commission to cut, piece and decorate the new Colours.

 

SOME IMPORTANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF THE COLOURS
(names of the men who carried the Colours are in brackets)

  • 23May82 - Colours' Presentation and Dedication, Historic Fort York, Toronto, ON. Strength - 61 troops, 18 followers. (1Lieut William Severin, Ensign Denis Bourget)
  • 24May82 - Inspection of Regiment by Lieutenant-Governor John Black Aird, Historic Fort York, Toronto, ON. Strength - 50 troops, 16 followers. (1Lieut Edward Anderson, Ensign Denis Bourget)
  • 17Jul82 - Brigade of the American Revolution Event: Inspection of Regiment by the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, Joe Clark, Fort Wellington, Prescott, ON. Strength - 56 troops, 6 followers. (1Lieutenant William Severin, Ensign Denis Bourget)
  • 30Jul83 - Freedom of the City of Kingston, ON. Strength - 48 troops, 8 followers. (1Lieutenant William Severin, Ensign Denis Bourget)
  • 24Dec83 - 200th Anniversary, Disbandment of the 1st Battalion, KRR NY, Historic Fort York, Toronto, ON. Strength - 34 troops, 5 followers. (Captain-Lieutenant Edward Anderson, Ensign Ian Anderson)
  • 2,3Jun84 - Annual Convention of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada on the occasion of the bicentennial of Ontario, MacDonald Park, Kingston, ON. Strength - 50 troops, 6 followers. (1Lieutenant Denis Bourget, Ensign Ian Anderson)
  • 22Jul84 - Bicentennial March marking the Founding of Cornwall, ON. Strength - 64 troops, 16 followers. (Captain-Lieutenant Edward Anderson, 1Lieutenant Denis Bourget)
  • 08Sep84 - Ontario Bicentennial event, Trenton, ON. Strength - 48 troops, 13 followers. (A/Ensign Syl Haase, A/Ensign Dan Moreau)
  • 27Sep84 - The Royal Visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Inspection of Royal Yorkers, Fort Wellington, Prescott, ON. Strength - 76 troops, 19 followers. (1Lieutenant Denis Bourget, Ensign Ian Anderson)
  • 29Sep84 - The Royal Visit: "A Royal Salute" - a military tattoo coordinated by Central Militia Command, Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, ON. Strength - 16 troops. (1Lieutenant Denis Bourget, Ensign Ian Anderson)
  • 15Jun85 - 10th Anniversary of the recreated King's Royal Yorkers, Black Creek Pioneer Village, North York, ON. Strength - 71 troops, 12 followers. (A/Ensign Syl Haase, A/Ensign Dan Moreau)
  • 30May87 - Provincial Historic Plaque Dedication to the King's Royal Regiment of New York and exercising of Freedom of the City of Kingston, ON. Strength - 61 troops, 18 Followers. (Ensign Syl Haase, Ensign Dan Moreau)
  • 28Aug87 - British Brigade/Continental Line Event: Tour of England, Dover Castle. Strength - 42 troops, 10 Followers. (Ensign Moreau, A/2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE)
  • 31Aug87 - British Brigade/Continental Line Event: Tour of England, Audley End Estate, Saffron Waldon. Strength - 42 troops, 10 Followers. (Ensign Moreau, A/2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE)
  • 23Apr88 - Museum of Applied Military History Event: Visit by Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel William Tower at the Museum's Winter Party, Kingston, ON. (Ensign Syl Haase)
  • 01Jul88 - Museum of Applied Military History Event: Parade for the Duke of Wellington, Fort Wellington, Prescott, ON. Strength - 76 troops, 32 Followers. (Captain Ed Anderson, 2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE)
  • 29Jul89 - Filming of "Divided Loyalties" - the life of Joseph Brant, Kleinberg, ON. Strength - 58 troops, 18 Followers. (2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Ensign Syl Haase)
  • 06Oct90 - BVMA Event: 210th Anniversary, Burning of the Valleys - Skirmish at Middle Fort, Middleburg, NY. Strength - 58 troops, 27 followers. (2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Ensign Dan Moreau)
  • 08Oct90 - BVMA Event: 210th Anniversary, Burning of the Valleys - Battle of Stone Arabia, Stone Arabia, NY. Strength - 58 troops, 27 followers. (2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Ensign Dan Moreau)
  • 15Jun91 - Black Creek Pioneer Village, North York, ON. The retirement of Ensign Syl Haase upon his transfer to von Barner's Brunswick Light Infantry. Strength: 77 troops, 33 followers. (2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Ensign Syl Haase, Ensign Dan Moreau)
  • 25May92 - Queen's Birthday Parade, Toronto, ON. Strength - 32 troops, 4 followers. (Captain Reg James, Serjeant John Moore)
  • 04Jul92 - The Commemoration of the Landing of Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe in Upper Canada. Strength - 93 troops, 38 followers. (2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Serjeant John Moore)
  • 01May93 - Northern Brigade: Battle of Conhocton, Bath, NY. Strength - 41 troops, 14 followers. (Ensign Dan Moreau, Serjeant Andy Weston)
  • 01Aug93 - Northern Brigade: Support of Queen's York Rangers at Skydome, Toronto, ON as the opener for a Blue Jays game. Strength - 34 troops. (1Lieutenant Ted Visser, 2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE)
  • 08Aug93 - Northern Brigade & Guests: The Commemoration of the Founding of York by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe. In attendance at Simcoe's landing on the waterfront - Lieutenant-Governor Henry Jackman. Strength - 92 troops, 34 followers. (2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Ensign Dan Moreau, Ensign John Moore)
  • 09Oct95 - Northern Brigade: 215th Anniversary, Burning of the Valleys - Battle of Stone Arabia, Stone Arabia, NY. Strength - 43 troops, 14 followers. (1Lieutenant Dan Moreau, Volunteer Steve Sandford)
  • 12May96 - Northern Brigade & guests: Drumhead Memorial Service to mark the 200th Anniversary of the Death of Lieutenant-Colonel John Butler of Butler's Rangers at Butlers' Cemetery, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON. Strength - 39 troops. (1Lieutenant George Howse, Ensign John Moore)
  • 19Jun98 - Northern Brigade: The inaugural celebration and flag raising for Loyalist Day, Queen's Park, Toronto, ON. Strength - 24 troops, 9 followers. (2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Ensign John Moore)
  • 20Jun98 - Northern Brigade: Black Creek Pioneer Village, North York, ON. The folding of the Colonel's and Major's Companies into Captain Richard Duncan's Company. Strength - 69 troops, 39 followers. (2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Ensign John Moore)
  • 15Aug98 - Big 3 Event: Defence of Quebec City, Plains of Abraham, Quebec City, QC. Strength - 52 troops, 30 followers. (2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Ensign John Moore)
  • 17Jul99 - Brigade of the American Revolution Grand Encampment: Sackett's Harbor, NY. Strength - 48 troops, 24 followers. (1Lieutenant Dan Moreau, 2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE)
  • 13Aug00 - RCMP Musical Ride 2000, Dickson Park, Cambridge, ON. Strength - 28 troops. (1Lieutenant Ted Visser, 1Lieutenant George Howse)
  • 03Aug02 - Northern Brigade & Guests: 225th Anniversary of the Siege of Fort Stanwix, Rome, NY. Strength - 33 troops. (2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Ensign John Moore)
  • 11Jul03 - Northern Brigade & Guests: Crysler's Farm Battlefield Park and Upper Canada Village. Strength - 69 troops, 40 followers. (2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE)
  • 05Jun04 - Northern Brigade: Historic Fort York for the Last Trooping of the Old Colours and the Consecration and Presentation of the New Colours and their First Trooping. Strength - 85 troops, 28 followers. (Old Colours: Captain Jeff Paine, 2Bn, 1Lieutenant Dan Moreau) (New Colours: 2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Ensign John Moore)

 

Extensive photo collection to follow - please check back shortly.

PHOTO CAPTIONS

  1. 23May82 - Colours' Presentation: Immediately following its first unsheathing, the Regimental Colour is flourished before the regiment by Serjeant Joyner UE, Colonel's Company, prior to laying it over the stand of drums for the prayer of dedication.
  2. 23May82 - Colours' Presentation: After presentation by Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel Mrs. Elizabeth Blair UE, Lieutenant Edward Anderson carries the Regimental Colour to Ensign Denis Bourget.
  3. 23May82 - Colours' Presentation: The regiment prepares for the first march past of the Colours.
  4. 30Jul83 - Freedom of the City of Kingston: The regiment marches into Fort Frontenac, a post rebuilt by the 2Bn, KRR NY in 1783, and currently the Canadian Forces Staff College, Kingston, ON.
  5. 03Jun84 - Annual Convention of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada on the occasion of the bicentennial of Ontario. The Royal Yorkers and Queen's Rangers guests demonstrate a bayonet charge in MacDonald Park, Kingston.
  6. 03Jun84 - Annual Convention of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada: The Colours float above the smoke of several discharges.
  7. 22Jul84 - 200th Anniversary of the Founding of Cornwall and the Province: An overhead view of the 1st Bn, Royal Yorkers marching through the city. From top to bottom - the Lieutenant-Colonel; Section of Grenadiers; Drum Corps; Right Section, Colonel's Company; Colours; Centre and Left Sections, Colonel's Company and section of Light Infantry.
  8. 08Sep84 - Trenton Bicentennial Celebration: Captain-Lieutenant Denis Bourget leads the 1st Bn, Royal Yorkers over a hill during a tactical demonstration.
  9. 27Sep84 - The Royal Visit: The KRR NY and a handful of Brigade of the American Revolution member units on parade for the arrival of Her Majesty at Fort Wellington, Prescott.
  10. 27Sep84 - The Royal Visit: The Colours are dipped in a Royal salute to Her Majesty and Prince Philip.
  11. 27Sep84 - The Royal Visit: Led by Her Majesty, the platform party, including Ontario's Premier Bill Davis, rose as the Colours marched past.
  12. 27Sep84 - The Royal Visit: A heartfelt British cheer for Her Majesty.
  13. 27Sep84 - The Royal Visit: A very welcome, impromptu review of the regiment; the Queen is introduced to the Colour Party.
  14. 29Sep84 - The Royal Visit: "A Royal Salute" - a military tattoo coordinated by Central Militia Command, Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, ON. The Colour Party marches across the artificial turf in a portrayal of 'Citizen Soldiers Over 200 Years.'
  15. 15Jul85 - 10th Anniversary of the recreated Royal Yorkers: Privates Dave Kirby, Ray Tackaberry UE and Fred Gamester guard the Colours during a tactical demonstration at Black Creek Pioneer Village.
  16. 16Jul85 - 10th Anniversary of the recreated Royal Yorkers: The Colours pause as the Colonel's Company storms a rail fence. Left to right - Privates Len Skinner, Andre Gousse, Larry Ostola and John Anglin UE clearing the fence.
  17. 14Jun86 - With Colours streaming, a bayonet attack goes in against the rebels at Black Creek Pioneer Village, North York, ON.
  18. 30May87 - The Colours are paraded for the march to Kingston City Hall for the unveiling of a Provincial plaque honouring the King's Royal Regiment of New York.
  19. 30May87 - The Provincial plaque dedicated to the memory of the KRR NY, sited across from old City Hall, on the waterfront at Kingston, ON.
  20. 29Aug87 - Tour of England, Dover Castle. An officers' Orders Group - Lieutenant-Colonel Watt with 1Lieutenants Reg James, Grenadiers, and Allan Joyner, Colonel's. The battalion: a Flank platoon of Grenadiers & Lights and two Colonel's Company platoons flanking the Colours.
  21. 30Aug87 - Tour of England, Audley End House, Saffron Waldon. During an intense line battle, the flying KRR Colours are flanked on the right by those of the 43rd of Foot and on the left by von Donop's Hessian regiment.
  22. 29Jul89 - Filming of Divided Loyalties - the life of Joseph Brant at Kleinberg, ON. A column of Royal Yorkers is led into an amazing reconstruction of a period frontier fortress representing Fort Oswego.
  23. 29Jul89 - Filming of Divided Loyalties. A classic Stand of Arms outside the walls of Fort Oswego guarded by Ensign Syl Haase, Colonel's Company and 2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Grenadiers.
  24. 06Oct90 - 210th Anniversary of the raid on the Schoharie Valley. In a fog of war, the Colonel's Company engages the rebels at the Middle Fort.
  25. 08Oct90 - 210th Anniversary of the Battle of Stone Arabia. In a long Indian file, the regiment deploys up the hill on the original ground of the battle of 19Oct1780.
  26. 02Mar91 - A scene from a major, albeit unsuccessful recruiting drive at the International Hobby Show, Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, ON shows 1Lieutenant Reg James, Grenadiers and Serjeant-Major Dave Moore UE standing before the Colours which composed the focus of an extensive display.
  27. 15Jun91 - A solemn ceremony marked the retirement of Syl Haase as senior Ensign of the KRR NY and his transfer to the Brunswick Light Infantry. In this photo, Haase transfers stewardship of the King's Colour to Ensign Dan Moreau.
  28. 25May92 - The Royal Yorkers have marched in the annual Queen's Birthday Parade in Toronto from its inception in 1986 to 2003. In this view from atop the American Embassy on University Avenue, the march is led by SjtMjr David Moore UE followed by a mixed Flank Platoon; Colours, Drums and a platoon of the Colonel's Company.
  29. 04Jul92 - Lieutenant-Governor Henry Jackman inspects the parade at Fort George, Niagara-on-the-Lake during the 200th anniversary commemoration of the arrival of Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe in Upper Canada.
  30. 01May93 - After a tactical demonstration at Bath, NY, the Colours are carefully sheathed for lodging in the Colonel's marquee. A Major's Company Private, Gene Michaud, and Serjeant Dave Putnam UE, Colonel's Company, assist Ensign Dan Moreau of the Major's.
  31. 01Aug93 - In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the founding of York (Toronto), the Queen's York Rangers, RCAC, parade in the Skydome supported by the Grenadier, Light Infantry, Colonel's and Major's Companies of the King's Royal Yorkers.
  32. 08Aug93 - The 200th Anniversary of the Founding of York by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe. The Colours of the participating regiments are paraded before the troops.
  33. 09Oct95 - The 215th Anniversary of the battle of Stone Arabia. This photograph shows the regiment deployed into line and firing alternately by wings.
  34. 12May96 - The 200th Anniversary of Lieutenant-Colonel John Butler's death. A/Major Reg James about to command 'Present Arms.'
  35. 19Jun98 - Queen's Park, Toronto, ON. A Northern Brigade detachment drawn up on the grounds of the Provincial Legislature to raise a Grand Union flag and mark the inaugural celebration of Loyalist Day. The Colours of the King's Royal Yorkers and Butler's Rangers are on parade.
  36. 20Jun98 - Black Creek Pioneer Village was the venue for the ceremony of retiring the Colonel's and Major's Companies and forming them into Captain Richard Duncan's Company. Captain Allan Joyner UE, Major's Company, followed by 1Lieutenant Ted Visser at the head of his Grenadiers march on the Colours to commence the ceremony.
  37. 15Aug98 - On the glacis of the Quebec City Citadel - 2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Grenadiers and Ensign John Moore, Duncan's Company prior to the march through the Lower Town.
  38. 17Jul99 - The Northern Brigade (foreground 1Bn, KRR NY) has faced to the left with arms presented to receive the Colours as they are carried onto the parade at Sackett's Harbor, NY by 2Lieutenant Duff Steele UE, Grenadier Company and 1Lieutenant Dan Moreau, Duncan's Company.
  39. 13Aug00 - RCMP Musical Ride 2000. A detachment of Grenadiers and Colonel's Company warms up a crowd of thousands before the Horsemen come on to perform their famous display.