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The 48th Highlanders of Toronto
Chapter 4 - Work at the Rifle Ranges


The Forty-Eighth pleads not the excuse of youth for any shortcoming in efficiency. Nothing is more obvious than that a regiment makes progress towards a high standard of efficiency, with years. But the Forty-Eighth aimed high at the beginning, the motto might have been, "Begin as you would wish to end." This has been the case in an especial manner with respect to rifle shooting. From the out set the desire to become crack shots was strong, and year after year we find in the Annual Reports appeals to greater devotion to the rifle. Consequently it would not be surprising that good records should be met with, but few indeed would be prepared for the remarkable results obtained The year 1892 gave no very favorable opportunity for rifle shooting. The question of the ranges was in an unsettled state, and but little practice could be indulged in. It may be passed over without details.

But when we come to 1893, which may be taken as the first shooting year of the Regiment, the record arrests attention. This year was the first year in which the Lake Shore Ranges were used, and that fact may to some extent account for the comparatively small attendance at the Saturday practices, which varied from forty to fifty men. The shooting at these practices, however, showed up well, and hopes were built on it which were well placed.

The Ontario Rifle Association Matches attracted a fair number of competitors from the Forty-Eighth, who, in addition to a gratifying share of individual prizes, won in these team competitions: Canada Company (Nursery) 3rd and 4th prizes; Tait-Brassey Match (Regimental teams of six) 3rd prize; Gzowski Match, prize in skirmishing, prize in volley-firing. It will be admitted that this is an excellent beginning, which drew attention to the Regiment as a new factor in the great rifle matches of the country.

Five representatives of the Regiment attended the Dominion Rifle Association Matches this year. No team victories came their way, but two members won places in the Grand Aggregate, and were entitled to take part in the final competition for the Bisley Team.

The Annual Rifle Match of the regiment was held on the afternoon of Saturday, the 7th of October. The attendance reached 125. The arrangements were complete, the weather fine, and the shooting excellent.

The Rifle Committee s Report includes a high tribute to Major Henderson, and to the young but energetic Secretary of the Committee, Lieutenant (afterwards Captain) Ramsay, whose attention to the work of the Committee merited all praise.

1894. In 1894 the Saturday practices were attended by an average of about fifty men, not so large a number as was to be expected from the privileges and encouragement afforded. Yet, the shooting was very good, and excellent results modified the disappointment felt at the comparatively small attendance. There were many keen shots in the Regiment, some of whom did not find it convenient to put in much time at the ranges, yet whose marksmanship was far above the average. This fact has to be taken into account when considering the attendance column in the shooting statistics. The Highlander naturally loves a gun, and it is no indifference, but business considerations that prevent the Highland volunteer from practising rifle shooting on every opportunity that offers.

Two teams were entered in the Martini series of the Canadian Military Rifle League; one team was also entered in the Snider series, but was subsequently withdrawn, owing to the fact that there were not a sufficient number of eligible men to fill the places in the team. In the ten-men team series, the first team of the Forty-Eighth occupied 11th place. In the twenty-men series, the Forty-Eighth team occupied 8th place.

At the Ontario Rifle Association there were eighteen representatives of the Regiment who fired throughout the competition, besides a number of others who fired in several of the matches.

At the Dominion Rifle Association Matches, eleven men competed, a comparatively large number. A fair number of individual prizes was secured by members of the Regiment at both these competitions the Ontario and the Dominion. At the former, Staff-Sergeant Wm. Harp and Major W. C. Macdonald secured places in the grand aggregate, occupying respectively 1st and 8th places. At the latter, the Dominion, Sergeant Adam Graham was fortunate in securing a place in the grand aggregate. In the team competitions the Regiment was very successful. In the Skirmishing and Volley Firing competitions at the Ontario Rifle Association, 2nd place was secured, and at the Dominion, the following record was made: 1st place in the Walker Match, which was open to battalion teams of six men, the number of entries being very large; 4th place in the Gzowski Military Match; tied for 3rd place in the British Challenge Shield Match. The capture of the 1st prize in the Walker Match was a victory for which the Regiment had every reason to feel proud. The score made was, it was said, the highest on record made by any regimental team in Canada, and it is doubtful if it had been excelled elsewhere under similar conditions. It was 539 points, or an average of 90 points per man. Members of the Regiment then at Ottawa wore heartily congratulated, and the superb shooting evoked much popular praise.

The annual rifle match of the Regiment took place on the last Saturday in September of this year. The prize list was long and tempting from the competitor s point of view, the value of the prizes offered amounting to $1,500. Two hundred and fourteen men attended, and the weather being fine, the day was not only profitably, but enjoyably spent.

The Annual Report singles out "H" Company as specially worthy of commendation for its shooting during the season, and at the annual regimental match.

In this year Lieut. -Colonel Davidson was elected president of the Ontario Rifle Association.

1895. The motto for this year's work at the butts was the axiom of Lord Wolseley: "If a volunteer is to be worthy of his name, of the nation he serves, and of the Queen's uniform, his first duty is to shoot well." On this the committee, of which Major Macdonald was president, acted strenuously, and the reward of their efforts was a gratifying record for the year.

Beginning with the Canadian Military Rifle League, the Regiment entered two teams. In the ten-men series they secured I2th and 37th places in a competition with about seventy teams, a very good standing indeed, and an improvement on the year previous.

In the Ontario Rifle Association Matches, seventeen fired throughout the competition. The individual winnings were thirty-six prizes, amounting to $189, and including three firsts, viz.: the Gilmour, Gibson, and Macdonald Matches; and three team prizes : second in the Canada Company, $25; fifth in the Walker, $10; third in the Gzowski, $25; making the total winnings of the Regiment thirty-nine prizes, for $249, as against twenty-four prizes, for $147, in 1894.

But the year 1895 is famous in the annals of the Regiment chiefly on account of the magnificent shooting at the Dominion Rifle Association Matches. Sixteen competitors represented the Regiment. There were but eleven in the year before. The individual winnings were thirty-one prizes (including two firsts, viz.: the Hamilton Powder and Grand Aggregate), amounting to $258.40. Team prizes: Minister of
Militia, third prize, $25; Lansdowne Aggregate, sixth prize, $18; British Challenge  Shield, sixth prize, $20; a total of thirty-four prizes, aggregating $321, as against twenty-six prizes, aggregating- $208.72 in 1894. Not only the total but the average winnings per man were greater than in 1894. Four members of the Regiment, viz., Staff-Sergeant Wm. Harp, Major Macdonald, Private McVittie, and Sergeant Milligan secured places in the hundred who were entitled to compete for Bisley, and two representatives were eligible for the Bisley team, viz.: Staff-Sergeant Harp and Major Macdonald, who occupied the first and the sixth place respectively. Special mention should be made of Staff- Sergeant Harp s splendid shooting, inasmuch as the scoring made by him had not been equalled in any similar competition of a similar nature in Canada! He won the first prize in the Grand Aggregate, and occupied the first place on the Bisley team. In recognition of the honour he brought to the Regiment, and with which he crowned himself, the Caledonian Society and a few friends, led by the president, Mr. Win. Simpson, an enthusiastic friend of the Regiment, and Mr. David Walker, presented Mr. Harp with a valuable and beautifully inscribed gold watch and chain, with a valuable pendant attached, on the occasion of the annual dinner of the Society, in celebration of Halloween.

The Annual Regimental Match was held on Saturday, the 28th September. The weather was fine, but not favourable to high scoring. About 200 competitors entered. The amount offered in prizes, including challenge cups, was $1465, and the shooting under the conditions existing was fairly creditable.

The services of Lieut. Mitchell, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Committee, were most valuable during the year and call for special mention.

1896. - The increasing interest in rifle shooting is to be seen in the additional facilities granted to the members of the Regiment this year, by a material reduction on the railway fare of those attending the ranges. Sergeant Hollinger had charge of the young shots, assisted by a non-commissioned officer detailed weekly, and this arrangement proved satisfactory.

Three teams were entered in the Martini series of the Canadian Military Rifle League. The standing of the twenty-men team and the thirty-men team was higher than that of former years, and evidenced a very marked improvement in team and individual marksmanship.

The individual winnings at the Ontario Rifle Association Matches were thirty-nine prizes, amounting to $229.16 and gold medal. Team: First prize City of Toronto Match. Ladies Challenge Cup and $30; fifth prize Gzowski Match, $15; making the total winnings of the Regiment forty-one prizes, for $274.16, and gold medal. The most valuable and important individual prize of the meeting, viz., the first in the City of Toronto Match, gold medal and $50, was won by Corporal Kerr.

The individual winnings at the Dominion Rifle Association were twenty-five prizes, amounting to $123.66 and badge. The team prizes won were: Gzowski Match, first prize, challenge cup and $50; British Challenge Shield, fifth prize, $22; a total of twenty-seven prizes for $195.66. Corporal Kerr, Pte. Mishaw, and Staff-Sergt. Harp secured places in the Governor-General s Hundred. Corporal Kerr occupied seventh place on the Bisley Team list for the year. Corporal Kerr, who shows so well in these matches, received his entire training as a rifle shot while serving in the ranks of the 48th Highlanders.

This shooting year was signalized by the institution of a new competition for marching and firing. Eight teams were entered from the district, two of them from the Forty- Eighth, whose first team, commanded bv Lieut. T. H. Mitchell and Colour-Sergt. D. W. Smith, had the honour of securing first place and winning for the first time it was offered for competition the handsome Challenge Cup donated by Major-General Gascoigne. A large sized photograph of the team was" presented by the Regiment to each of its members in recognition of their victory.

The annual Regimental Match was held on September the 26th. About 200 entered into the competitions. The programme and the prize list were very inviting. Showers fell during the early afternoon, but good shooting was made. The team and principal individual prizes and marksmen's badges were formally presented on the 2oth of November at the Armouries, in the presence of a large number of friends of the Regiment.

1897. The Lee-Enfield rifle was introduced this year. The reports show a gratifying increase in the attendance at the weekly practices, and a marked improve ment in the good shooting already attained to. In the class-firing the regimental figure of merit was not only higher than formerly, but exceeded that of the other two City corps.

Seven teams, two in the Martini and five in the Enfield series, were entered for the Canadian Military Rifle League competition, and excellent shooting was made.

The individual winnings at the Ontario Rifle Association matches were fifty prizes amounting to $228, one bronze and two silver medals, second team prize Gzowski Match, $30; a total of fifty-one prizes; amounting to $258 and three medals, an increase on the record of 1896.

The number of representatives at the Dominion Rifle Association matches was only eleven, but the shooting was of the highest excellence. The individual winnings were thirty-seven prizes, aggregating $436 and two badges ; fourth team prize (Walker Match), $30 ; second in the Lansdowne Aggregate, $30 ; first in the British Challenge Shield, the shield and $40. The score made in the British Challenge Shield was the highest on record. Out of the eleven representatives, seven Staff-Sergt. Graham, Pte. McVittie, Major Macdonald, Pte. McLaren, Pte. Davidson, Corporal Kerr and Pte. Hutchinson obtained places in the Governor-General s Hundred. In the Governor-General s Match Privates Davidson and McVittie tied with Corporal Windatt, R.G., for the Governor-General s prize, and in shooting off the tie they secured second and third places respectively. Private McVittie secured sixth place on the Bisley Team and Pte. Davidson first place on the waiting list for same.

In the Marching and Firing Competition two teams entered. That commanded by Lieut. Harbottle and Sergt. Frank Dewar won the second prize.

The annual Regimental Rifle Match was held on Saturday, the 25th of September. The number of competitors was 225. The weather was good and the match passed off very successfully.

In reporting upon the year s work the Rifle Committee states that the advancement in rifle shooting exceeds that of any former year.

1898. The year opens well at the ranges, the weekly practices being taken advantage of very generally. The Canadian Military Rifle League attracted eight teams from the regiment, seven of whom fired throughout. Thirteenth place was secured by the 1st team, a higher standing than in any former year.

At the Ontario Rifle Association matches the number of representatives of the Regiment was larger than usual. Their winnings in individual prizes were 72, aggregating $322, a silver medal and cup, as against 50 prizes and $258 and three medals in 1897. The team prizes won were: Third prize Canada Company Match, $20; second prize Corporation of the City of Toronto Match, $25; fourth prize Tait-Brassey Match, $30; and fourth prize Gzowski Match, $20; total $97. In the individual competitions, the first prize in the grand aggregate, the most important contest of the meeting, was won by Sergt. J. McVittie.

Fifteen representatives entered for the Dominion Rifle Association matches. The total individual winnings were 29 prizes, amounting to $153, and four team prizes, amounting to $65. Three members of the Regiment, viz., Staff-Sergt. Graham, Corporal J. C. Smith (a young shot who made an excellent record at these matches), and Corporal H. Kerr won places in the Governor-General s Hundred, and Staff-Sergt. Graham won his place upon the Bisley Team for 1899.

In the Marching and Firing Competition No. i team, commanded by Lieut. Harbottle, won third place, and No. 2 team, commanded by Lieut. Hamilton, won fifth place.

The annual Regimental Rifle Match took place on Saturday, the 8th of October. 235 competitors were present, a larger number than on any former year. A good prize list was offered, and, the weather being favourable, the match passed off very satisfactorily.

Special measures were adopted this year to turn the rifle gallery at the Armories to the best advantage, and the suggestion made that a company be detailed from parade each night to devote the entire evening to practice firing, it being apparent that better instruction in position and aiming drill could be imparted at the gallery than at the ranges.

1899. This year was comparatively uneventful at the weekly practice and in the Canadian Military Rifle League Competition, although excellent work was put up.

At the Ontario Rifle Association Matches there was an increased representation, with seventy individual prizes, aggregating $284.90, and a bronze medal as winnings. Five regimental team prizes, amounting to $156, were won, as compared with four prizes and $95 for the previous year. "E" Company won first prize, $20 and the Brassey Cup, in the competition for company teams in the Tait-Brassey Match.

Sixteen crack shots attended the Dominion Rifle Matches from the Regiment. The winnings were 53 individual prizes, $299.10, and four team prizes, viz., $76 in cash and the Gzowski and Gillespie Challenge Cups, and the British Challenge Shield. The team prizes included first in the Gzowski Match, first in the British Challenge Shield, and first in the Gillespie Challenge Cup Aggregate, and third place (only four points behind the first team) for the Lansdowne Cup Aggregate. Sergt. J. McVittie, Sergt. J. C. Smith, Pte. H. McLaren, and Corporal H. Kerr secured places in the Grand Aggregate, and Sergts. McVittie and Smith were entitled to represent the Regiment at Bisley in 1900.

This, it must be admitted, is a record to be proud of, proving, as it does, that in the fluctuations to which a shooting record is so obviously liable, the Forty-Eighth have held their own with the best marksmen in Canada for a period of years which may be taken as long enough to be a valuable test.

The Annual Rifle Match, and the Marching and Firing Competition were well patronized and the Regiment showed up well in both events.

Cups and Trophies. Following are the winnings for the cups and trophies offered for competition by the Regiment:

OLD CHUM TOBACCO TROPHY, donated by D. Ritchie & Co., Montreal, through Hon. Major and Quartermaster W. H. Orchard: 1892, won by "A" Co.; 1893, "H" Co.; 1894, "H" Co.; 1895, "H " Co. Finally won by "H" Co.

TORONTO SILVER PLATE Co.'s TROPHY: 1893, won by "G" Co.; 1894, "E" Co.; 1895, "E" Co.; 1896, "A" Co.; 1897, "G" Co. ; 1898, "G" Co. Finally won by "G" Co.

CREAN & ROWAN BANNER: 1893- won by "H " Co.; 1894, "H" Co.; 1895,"C" Co.; 1896, "A" Co.; 1897, "A" Co.; 1898, " E " Co.

THE LADIES CUP: 1893, won by "B"Co.; 1896, "C" Co.; 1897, "G" won by "B" Co.; 1894, "C" Co.; 1895, "H" Co.; 1898, "G " Co.

CALEDONIAN SOCIETY TROPHY, Scotch Tup s Head, donated by the Caledonian Society of Toronto: 1894, won by "H" Co.; 1895, "A" Co.; 1896, "H" Co. ; 1897, "E" Co. ; 1898, "H" Co. Finally won by "H" Co.

CANADIAN MILITARY RIFLE LEAGUE CUP: From 1895 to 1898 inclusive, won by Sergeants.

WALKER TROPHY : 1896, won by "H" Co.; 1897, "E" Co.; 1898, "E" Co.


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