The 79th Cameron Highlanders of Canada at Sewell Camp

Private John Denholm (holding the mirror) at Sewell Camp in late June 1914

Private John Denholm (holding the mirror) at Sewell Camp in late June 1914

This is the first in a series of articles highlighting the experiences of Private John Denholm of the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) during the First World War. Articles will be published on the 100th anniversary of each event and will feature photos and ephemera from an amazing scrapbook that he compiled shortly after the war. The next article in the series will provide background on John’s early life in Scotland, his emigration to Winnipeg in 1912 and of his joining the 79th Cameron Highlanders of Canada. However to begin I’m featuring these previously unpublished personal photographs of John and the 79th training at Sewell Camp 100 years ago this week.

Winnipeg Free Press - 27 June 1914

Winnipeg Free Press – 27 June 1914

Sewell Camp was established in 1910 as a training base for militia units based in Military District 10, an area that included Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well as parts of northern Ontario and the Northwest Territories. The camp was located just west of Carberry, Manitoba and south of the Canadian Pacific Railway line. In September 1915 the camp was renamed Camp Hughes in honour of Sam Hughes, the Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence.

Prior to the First World War militia units from M.D. 10 would spend one to two weeks each summer training on the rolling pasture land. In 1914 the first militia units arrived from Saskatchewan on June 21 however advance parties from infantry regiments in Winnipeg, including the 79th Cameron Highlanders, did arrive until Friday June 26. By the following afternoon the remainder of the 79th had arrived by train from Winnipeg.

While the regiments drilled and honed their skills on the rifle range events were taking in place in Europe that would dramatically alter the course of these men’s lives. However in late June 1914 few, if any of these part-time soldiers considered the possibility that by early October they would be sailing to Britain as members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. These candid photographs provide a unique snapshot of camp life in the final few weeks leading up to the outbreak of the First World War.

 

 

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