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The Beginning, 1907, 1908 and 1909

In 1903 Lord Dundonald, the hero of Ladysmith, in the South African War (1899-1902), who was at that time in command of the Permanent Forces in Canada, including the Militia, devised a new plan of military organization for the whole of the Dominion of Canada. The country was divided into five districts, one of which was designated as The West. This area included the Provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia as well as the North West Territories. In 1904, Sir Frederick Borden, the Minister of Militia in the Laurier Government, introduced the Militia Act, providing for the formation of Militia Units, Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and ancillary services, throughout the whole country. It was hoped to have the organization completed by the end of 1908. In 1905, the new provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were formed from the Old North West Territories. In 1906 and 1907, the Dominion Government, with advice and direction from members of the Imperial General Staff, proceeded with the task of re-organizing the entire Canadian Militia in all parts of the country, including the two new Provinces.

Shortly after the Province of Saskatchewan was formed, a young lawyer from Ontario, Mr. Frank Ford, was appointed Deputy Attorney General. He was, at that time, a Captain in the Canadian Militia on the reserve of the 20th Regiment (The Lorne Rifles) in the County of Halton. When it was decided to form an Infantry Regiment embracing the whole of the newly-formed Province of Saskatchewan with Headquarters in Regina, Captain Ford was offered, and accepted, the Command with the rank of Major. The Unit was designated as the 95th Regiment, its formation being published in the Canada Gazette effective April 2, 1907. General Order No.67 dated April 13, 1907, stated that Regimental Headquarters would be in Regina with the various company locations as follows: 'A' and 'B' Companies in Moose Jaw, 'C' and 'D' Companies in Regina, 'E' Company in Wolseley, 'F' Company in Saskatoon and 'G' and 'H' Companies in Prince Albert.

During the balance of the year 1907, Major Ford proceeded with the task of enlisting commissioned and non-commissioned officers and private soldiers for the newly-formed Regiment. He was responsible for this task in the vast territory comprising the whole of Saskatchewan in the days when most of the roads were trails and railways, horse and buggy and the saddle horse were the means of transportation. The automobile was still an oddity, the hobby or plaything of the petrol-propelled vehicle connoisseur.

Historical research has failed so far to furnish the exact date of the first organizational meeting, the first parade, or the name of the first recruit (private soldier) to be enlisted in the new regiment. The Regimental Headquarters was located in the Old Post Office building, then at the corner of Scarth Street and 12th Avenue. There was only one room available for equipment, stores and office. Parades were held in Broad Street Park or at the Exhibition Grounds. These parades definitely began in the spring of 1908. Photostat copies of the 12 day training periods held from May to September of that year are now in the archives of the Regina Rifle Regiment. One hundred and twenty-three all ranks attended and were paid for these parades. The rates of pay ranged from $4.00 per day for the Officer Commanding to 50¢ per day for the private soldier.

A most interesting historical photograph has been received from Lieutenant Colonel Frank Ford at the present time (1960) now residing in Edmonton, Alberta. It shows the two Regina Companies on parade at the Exhibition Grounds. The Original Pipe Band (bagpipes and drums), consisting of ten members dressed in dark rifle green uniforms, heads the parade. On horseback at the head of the two companies is Major Frank Ford on his charger 'Heck'. The Major is wearing a 'Sam Browne' belt and is holding a sword at the 'Carry'. The Platoons, five in number and each having twenty-five or more members, are seen advancing in a company formation, in close column of platoons, in single extended line. This was a formation suitable for advancing over rough terrain. A Commissioned Platoon Officer, wearing a 'Same Browne' and holding a sword at the 'Carry' is at the head of each platoon. All officers are wearing white covers on their forage caps. The Regiment's Second-in-Command (also mounted) brings up the rear.

The Regimental Sergeant Major (possibly acting as a Company Non-commissioned Officer) is on the right flank between the second and third platoons. In the distance to the West, 'Government House' can be seen in its shelter belt of trees. Several pedestrians are seen moving along what was then and still is Dewdney Avenue. In the far distance (in the upper right hand corner of the photograph) is seen the outline of the Old Indian School, afterwards used as a. Boys' Detention Home. Many years later this building was entirely destroyed by fire. The Platoons are marching with rifles at the trail (a form of rifle regiment drill) indicating that at this early stage in its existence, the 95th Regiment was in the process of becoming the 95th Saskatchewan Rifles. A further unique feature is the fact that a Rifle Regiment is using a band consisting of Pipers and drummers, dressed in Rifle Garb and not in the customary kilts. The White leopard apron on the drummer is very noticeable.

D.G. Scott-Calder's
The History of the 28th (Northwest) Battalion, C.E.F. (October 1914 - June 1919)
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