Regimental history

An overview of our history to today

History

Origin

It was in Trois-Rivières, at the confluence of the Saint-Maurice and Saint-Laurent rivers, that the roots of the Canadian militia were laid. Indeed, from 1651 (during the Amerindian wars), Pierre Boucher, Captain of the town of Trois-Rivières, since 1649, received an order from the Governor of New France ordering him, among other things, to obtain weapons, to exercise the inhabitants in their handling and relay them to the guard service. On April 3, 1669, the Governor of Courcelles received a letter from King Louis XIV ordering him:

“… To divide the inhabitants into companies,…; to assemble them once a month by squads or by companies…; to bring them together once or twice a year; to provide it with lead, powder and wick, to make them pass in review while letting carry out all the movements of the trade of arms … ”

Anyone from 16 to 60 years old was called to the service. Officers and men were to serve free of charge. From then on, each parish had its own company of militiamen. The more populous parishes comprised of two or more companies whose numbers vary from 50 to 80 men. Depending on the size of the population, they may have had one or more captains, lieutenants, ensigns and sergeants. Among the officers, the militia captain is a very important figure in the parish: he falls immediately under the lord. He represents the governor, the stewards as well as the peasants. Some captains even perform civilian functions such as local administrators and government spokespersons. The Militia, as an auxiliary force of the regular army, was thus maintained throughout the eighteenth century.

During the War of 1812 against the Americans, two battalions of volunteers were raised in Trois-Rivières: one from the town in which the Captain Zacharie Macaulay came from and one from the Forges Saint-Maurice, commanded by Captain Jean-Baptiste Landry. On May 24, 1812, Captain Sabrevois de Bleury was appointed major of the 3rd Battalion of the elite and incorporated militia which included Trois-Rivières and Berthier. In 1830, the county of Saint-Maurice had three Militia battalions: the first battalion consisted of Trois-Rivières and its suburbs which were made up of the fief of Sainte-Marguerite, the fief of Saint-Maurice, Pointe-du-Lac, the fief of Gatineau and the township of Caxton. The second battalion was from Maskinongé which included the following : the fief of Saint-Jean and its augmentation, Carufel and part of Lanaudière as well as all of the islands of the Saint-Laurent near the said county. Finally, the third battalion was from Yamachiche and included: the fiefs of Dumontier and Grandpré and the townships of New-Glasgow and Hunterstown.

In 1855, the Government of the Province of Canada passed the new Militia Act that leads to the direct origins of the Canadian militia today. A small force of 5,000 Volunteers was then equipped and organized into independent rifle companies. This law created several classes of militia, to include: the active militia, the sedentary militia and the Reserve. In addition, the province of United Canada was divided into nine military districts. This saw the creation of a rifle company in Trois-Rivières, made up of 63 Volunteers.

In 1865, an Irish-American organization called the Brotherhood of the Fenians, formed in 1858, began raids against Canada. The Militia was called up and a group from Trois-Rivières, returning from Upper Canada, settled on the Lower Canada line, from Valleyfield to Frelighsburg. The unit headquarters was established in Trois-Rivières at the town hall where guard is kept every night.

The most important result of this period of repeated crises was the Confederation of the Colonies of British North America in 1867. This saw the withdrawal of the regular British Troops and led to the creation of a permanent Canadian force. Thus, in 1868, by the “Militia Act”, a Ministry of Militia and Defense was established and the authorized strength was increased to 40,000 men for the Active Militia (which is the ancestor of the current Regular Force).

Two years later, in 1870, the Volunteers of company No. 1 of Trois-Rivières, which was part of the 5th Brigade Division (or battalion) of Military District No. 6, were called upon to deploy to the Red River Territory for the North West Campaign. The other companies in the Division were as follows:

  • Company no 2, Rivière-du-Loup or Louiseville;
  • Company no 3, Berthier;
  • Company no. 4, Sainte-Elizabeth;
  • Company no 5, Joliette;
  • Company no 6, Saint-Jacques;
  • Company no. 7, Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon;
  • Company no. 8, Sainte-Mélanie;
  • Company no 9, Rawdon no 1;
  • Company no 10, Rawdon no 2.

By the end of June and beginning of July, the volunteers of the 5th Division left Montreal for Canada’s Northwest Territories. Among them were Captain François-Xavier Lambert and the surgeon Frédéric-Augustus Dame. Both would later become commanders of the Trois-Rivières Unit.

Tradition

Regiment toast

(Toast to the 12th CAR Veterans Association Regimental Dinner, Ottawa, October 25, 1995)

“The Regiment is not the officers and men who serve there. The Regiment is not the officers and men who founded it, or those who served there in times of war or peace; the Regiment is not only those officers and men who will proudly bear its name in future years. The Regiment is much more than those who serve there. It would take a much more eloquent spokesperson than I to adequately define this intangible thing that we are honoring right now.

The Regiment is tradition – the Regiment is service – the Regiment is love of the country – the Regiment is our unwavering loyalty to the Crown and everything it stands for – the Regiment is first and foremost a passion. Those who served there yesterday, those who serve today and those who will serve there tomorrow have added and will continue to add honor and prestige. They are honored by this opportunity. From year to year the faces among the ranks change. From year to year the young men and women will come to take the place of the elders, but the Regiment continues. When all is a memory, the Regiment will be there – prestigious in the past, always ready for new challenges.”

Brigadier William Murphy
Commander
1st Canadian Armoured Brigade

Credit to Mr. Tojo Griffiths

Collar dogs

The 12e Régiment blindé du Canada, the only Regular Force armoured unit with a French-language name, is also the only regiment that continues to observe the tradition of wearing the coat of arms of its hometown, Trois-Rivières, on the collar dogs of its uniform as an emblem. The Regiment was conferred the “Key to the city” by the City of Trois-Rivières in 1978.

THE COAT OF ARMS: Azure (blue) with a silver chevron is laid upon a fleur-de-lys, and accompanied by three fish on the second (two in chief, one in point).

THE OUTER ORNAMENTS: The shield, stamped with a beaver sitting on its tree trunk, and supported by two scrolls (branches) of maple leaves of sinople (green color) crossed at the point in a long necklace (cross): on a banner of silver at the bottom, the motto: “DEUS NOBISCUM QUIS CONTRA”.

Toast to the Fallen Comrade

You may have noticed the table alone at the end of the central aisle. It has been put to symbolize people very dear to us… our fallen comrades. She is here to remind us of their efforts, to remind us that some members of our profession have fallen in combat. They are unable to be with us, but we want to recognize their ultimate sacrifice.

This table, with a simple cover… it represents the fragility of our comrades in the face of oppression.

The tablecloth that covers it is white… it symbolizes the purity of their intentions to respond to the call to arms of their nation.

The rose represents the families and their loved ones who continue to keep the faith by remembering their sacrifices.

The red ribbon surrounding the vase means determination, determination to give oneself body and soul for a just cause.

The slice of lemon is there to remind us of the bitterness of their battle.

Salt is a symbol of the tears of the grieving families.

The glass is upside down … They cannot feast with us.

The chair is empty… They are absent.

We will remember!!! All of you who have served with them or who live freely through them, remember. The homeland relied on them and they gave their lives to save it. Do not abandon them, pray for them and continue to cherish them. We will always remember them. Ladies and gentlemen, our fallen comrades.

Madames et messieurs, nos camarades disparus.

Affiliated units

  • United Kingdom : Royal Tank Regiment since 1963
  • France : 4e Régiment de Chasseurs since 2013
  • France : 2e Régiment de Hussards 1993 to 2012
  • France : 8e Régiment de Hussards 1984 to 1993
  • France : 12e Régiment de Chasseur 1972 to 1984

Black beret of armored units

Black Beret of armored units

There used to be a custom that, after the battle, the victorious Regiment adopted the headdress of the defeated regiment as a trophy. The tradition of the black beret, worn by the Armoured Corps, seems to come from the Royal Tank Regiment which adopted the beret of the French Army instead of the cap with a visor worn by the remainder of the British Army, to drive the tanks. It was also believed to have been chosen to hide the greases and oils of the tanks of the time. In 1924, the black beret became the official headdress of the Royal Tank Regiment. It was therefore authorized in the British Army and, consequently, in the Canadian Army. On December 15, 1936, the Three Rivers Regiment adopted the Black Beret when it went from infantry to armoured vehicles.

Songs

Regimental Badge

  • AZURE: Blue is a symbol of truth, justice, fidelity and loyalty. It is drawn from the colours of the old parish militia companies, the coat of arms of the governor of Trois-Rivières, Pierre Boucher (founder of the Canadian militia), and those of the City of Trois-Rivières.
  • OLD GOLD: This colour, which symbolizes life, light, wisdom, intuition and balance, is also that of friendship and brotherhood.
  • BROWN: Red is the color of blood and heart. It embodies activity and strength and represents the blood shed by the Regiment’s combatants during the Second World War, as well as during its successive missions, with the U.N. and the N.W.T.
  • THE BEAVER ON HIS ECOT: symbolizes the spirit of work and tenacity.
  • THE THREE FISH: each fish symbolizes one of the three rivers. Also recalled are the Aboriginal people of the region, the Attikameks, whose name means “white fish” in the Amerindian language.
  • THE FLEUR DE LYS: indicates the French origins of the city.
  • MAPLE LEAVES: Underline Canadian belonging.
  • THE SILVER CHEVRON: is taken from the coat of arms of Pierre Boucher, the first governor of Trois-Rivières and founder of the Canadian militia.
  • THE MOTTO: “DEUS NOBISCUM QUIS CONTRA” is translated as “If God is with us, who will be against us?” A verse from St Paul’s Epistle 8-31 to the Romans.