Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

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Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 30 May 2014 05:02

I am pleased to report that I have just been successful bidder on a very nice example of the General Service Pattern Canada Militia shako plate, in use from 1866 -

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(Dealer's photo)

Here is a period photo showing a Canadian militiaman with this badge being worn on the kilmarnock -
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This "voided" version (there was a solid version as well) was often worn with a red backing behind the beaver, as seen worn by this modern re-enactor -
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby rd72 » 30 May 2014 05:39

Nice going Grant. Have you found a shako for it to be mounted to? (as I recall, you were looking for on a while ago to complete your 1860s kit) Maybe on your kilmarnock as a back-up plan? What "holes" are left in your latest project? You must be pretty close to finishing up your acquisitions with this shako plate, no?
Cheers,
Rob
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 30 May 2014 17:07

Rob:

I'm still planning on "fixing up" the reproduction shako body I acquired a year or two ago, but haven't got that done yet ..... now that I have this plate, though, I will have to get right on that! :roll: The shako is the only hole to fill for this impression, in fact. (I have a reproduction British 43rd Regiment shako plate as an alternative .... there being a number of examples of Canadian Militia Battalions using the appropriately numbered British plate on their shakos .... but had found no indication that the 43rd Battalion did so. Thus, In the absence of a proper shako plate, I hadn't been all that inspired to begin that project ....)

At least I have determined that, for my circa 1870 impression, I can legitimately go with the "Last Pattern Shako" (introduced in 1867/68) which allows me to avoid the difficulty of achieving the cross-stitched appearance of the body of the earlier "Quilted pattern" shako!

The Canada militia shako plates are not terribly common .... and are accordingly rather pricey when you find one. Since I am not sure I want to use a C$200 badge for re-enactment purposes, I will likely make a silicon mould of this original, and produce a resin replica for the long term. Once I have such a mould, I could also produce replicas for anyone else who might want one ....

I have managed to make a pretty decent resin reproduction of a Victorian-crown Canadian Artillery helmet plate for use by my 1885 Horse Artillery detachment - all of them are cleaned up and painted now, with only the task of affixing them to everyone's helmets yet to be done -

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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby rd72 » 31 May 2014 21:00

Wow, great work for such an expedient solution... Look forward to seeing the finished product (the shako with plate, that is)
Cheers,
Rob
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby red25847 » 04 Jun 2014 13:19

A very nice example of the Canadian Militia general service plate. What does the back look like, and do you know of a source for a reproduction of these plates?
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 04 Jun 2014 14:48

Still awaiting receipt of this plate, but here is the vendor's photo of the back - clean and undamaged:

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Unfortunately, despite various efforts to find out, I know of no source for reproductions, although I think some must have been made at one time, as it is very unlikely that all the re-enactors in the photos one sees are using originals!

I have placed bids on a couple of original platess previously, albeit not high enough .... this time I was more generous with my bid and succeeded .... but not by much! These are neither common nor cheap, especially in such nice condition.

As mentioned in my last post, I will likely make a silicon mould of this plate to enable one-at-a-time production of resin copies, which I could possibly be induced to sell to re-enactors and such. (Might help recoup some of my outlay on this original! :roll: )

I am currently making myself a set of resin copies of the equivalent button -

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- a rather slow process with a single silicon mould .... :wink:
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby red25847 » 04 Jun 2014 22:52

Very nice. That guard looks like he might be at Old Fort Henry. I imagine they have a source for reproduction buttons and plates. Keep me in mind when you make some copies.
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby rd72 » 04 Jun 2014 23:12

Hi there Red,

Just a small note, the Fory Henry mob recreate generic British Regular troops and do not wear Canadian Militia uniforms... They have full epaulettes (vs the cords) and slashed cuffs, etc.... Though the uniforms are similar, the bits, like buttons and badges, would not be.....
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Rob
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 05 Jun 2014 01:35

Yes, although the changing uniform patterns of that era are similar to each other, they had distinguishing features - the most noticeable being the cuffs. As Rob indicates the Fort Henry Guard uniform incorporates the British Army Pattern 1856 tunic (which was also, in fact, worn by Canadian Militia prior to 1863) .... note the slashed cuffs -
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Fort Henry Guard -
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The FHG also have their own unit-specific badge:
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The Pattern 1856 tunic was replaced in the British Army by the Pattern 1868 tunic, with a simple pointed cuff surmounted by a chevron of tape and piping -
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Shortly thereafter, the Pattern 1871 tunic was adopted for the British Army, with a pointed cuff surmounted by a simple trefoil knot of piping -
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The final Victorian-era British Army red tunic was the Pattern 1881, with simple "jampot" cuffs -
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Note that all of these British tunic patterns had shoulder straps (epaulettes).

The Canadian Militia used most of these patterns at one time or another, but at the time of the Fenian Raids (1866-1870) had a unique tunic pattern, adopted in 1863, not duplicated by anything worn by the British Army - it retained the scalloped back skirt flaps of the 1856 Pattern, but the cuff was a pointed design surmounted by a fairly elaborate braid 'Austrian knot' but a plain double shoulder cord instead of shoulder straps, very much like those features on the Royal Engineers tunic -
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This is the uniform I am re-creating for myself, which I can use either with the Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle musket with which Canadian Militia were armed when the raids started, or the breech-loading Snider-conversion of the Enfield with which all of our troops had been re-armed by 1869. With acquisition of this shako plate, I now have all the bits and pieces assembled .... although as mentioned above, I must rebuild the shako body which I have - seen in the upper left,below. I already have the undress "kilmarnock cap" .... seen beside it -
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby red25847 » 05 Jun 2014 14:23

This is all great. I used to own a full set of original belts, bayonet, box and pouches; but sold them through Marway several years ago. I have researched 1812 uniforms for many years, and made several reproductions, both Brit and US. With the 150th of the Fenian raids coming up, I was toying with the idea of putting together a reproduction uniform of the Queen's Own Rifles. I noticed your 43d plate in the photo, is it the same dimensions as the militia plate? Those numbered plates seem to be common in reproduction.
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 05 Jun 2014 20:20

That is, in fact, one of the reproduction British numbered plates, which I got as a "backup plan" since there are a number of known examples of Canadian Militia Battalions using the British plate with the appropriate number. I have found no indication that the 43rd Battalion (the specific unit I will represent) did so .... but also no indication that they didn't .... :roll: Subject to further research, that could mean the 43rd just used the General Service plate, or could have used the British 43rd plate, or even that they actually had no shakos at all! (As I understand it, the Department of Militia issued only kilmarnock caps, and if a Battalion wanted shakos they had to provide them at their own expense .... so less-affluent units made do with their kilmarnocks.)

Mazeas depicts no shako plate for this battalion, only the Regimental number, such as worn on the kilmarnock, in their first incarnation (formed 1866, disbanded 1875) although he does depict the Rifles-style shoulder-belt plate and helmet plate adopted after the Battalion had been re-formed in 1881, with an immediate change of name to the 43rd Ottawa and Carleton Battalion of Rifles .....

I am not sure if the Canada Militia plate is the same size as the numbered British plates, as it hasn't arrived yet. (Mind you, when I was out there was an attempted parcel delivery and a "pick-up card" left .... I'll have to see if that is it, although there is another shipment it could also be. When I do get it, I'll photograph the two together for a size comparison.

If you wonder why I want to specifically represent the 43rd (Carleton) Battalion of Infantry - a relatively obscure semi-rural unit - it is because I bear the surname, and am a direct descendant, of the family from which there were no less than three Privates enrolled in this Battalion who were awarded the Canada General Service Medal with 1870 Fenian Raid bar. I have one of those medals in my collection, and also a very nice Snider-Enfield 3-band rifle marked to the 43rd Battalion -

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Speaking of the Queen's Own Rifles .... I also re-enact that unit, albeit uniformed and equipped as they were during the 1885 North-West Rebellion -

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When I first began thinking of doing a Fenian Raids-era impression, the QOR were my first thought ....although of course a different tunic and headgear (at the very least) would have been necessary. I would have been able to take the field with either the P'1853 Enfield or Snider-Enfield rifle, or the Spencer rifle with which the unit was briefly armed in 1866-67 -

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My Spencer rifle is a modern reproduction, however -

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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 05 Jun 2014 22:24

Picked up the Canada Militia shako plate at the postal outlet .... Yes, it is the same size as the numbered British plates of the same era -

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I neglected to mention in my previous post that, strictly speaking, for a Fenian Raids QOR impression one would need special insignia - i.e. badges, buttons, etc., even though essentially the same as used today, would not bear the words "of Canada" .... the name not having been changed to its current form until 1882 .... not that anyone would likely notice if the "real thing" (or copies thereof) couldn't be found for a re-enactment impression.....

However, lurking among my QOR "stuff" is a pre-1882 Officer's shoulder-belt plate -

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I got this one on eBay for an unusually low price. The vendor (located in the U.S.) had it described as a "large british hat badge" or something like that .... :roll: A standing search for Queen's Own Rifles or QOR or anything similar wouldn't have have turned it up! (I just stumbled upon it purely by accident, as I recall....)
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby red25847 » 06 Jun 2014 12:49

What great luck; both in the same surname fenian raid medal, and with the QOR ebay plate. You certainly know your stuff. And a very nice impression of the 1885 QOR!
I attended a service to mark the 148th anniversary of the Battle of Ridgeway this past weekend were they had a ceremonial group from the Hamilton Light Infantry and the QOR. There uniforms were quite good, but a more modern cut than the originals. They did have reproduction 1961 quilted shakos though, complete with plates; I wonder what their source is? I'll try and reach them to ask them. They also had some period illustrations from a fellow who travelled with the fenians that showed some QOR.
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 06 Jun 2014 18:25

The three chaps of the same surname in the 43rd Battalion are unquestionably related to me since, as nearly as can be ascertained, every Rombough in Canada is descended from a single UEL family in which there were four sons. (Indeed, the father and three eldest sons all served in the 2nd Battalion, King's Royal Regiment of New York, during the Revolution .....)

I would dearly love to acquire a decent reproduction shako, so please do keep me posted on anything you can find out! All inquiries I have made (admittedly only by e-mail) to the Fort Henry Guard, QOR, Brockville Infantry Company, etc. regarding the source of their shakos have gone unanswered, but if you are closer or can perhaps locate a good phone number to call, you may meet with more success.

For what it may be worth, one of a series of representations of uniforms published (I think) in their quarterly, The Powderhorn, showing a circa-1866 QOR Rifleman -

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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby red25847 » 07 Jun 2014 13:11

I'll put out some feelers and let you know what turns up if I hear anything back. If I had an original to study it may be possible to make one, I've made several American 1813 leather shakos, but I had access to one to examine. I don't know what stiffener was used for the 1861, canvas, buckram, cork, cardboard? The one in the Canadian War Museum is an officer's, which might be a different construction. If memory serves, I think there was an original other ranks in the Fort Erie collection. I'll check that out too, and let you know.
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