The First World War broke out on July 28, 1914 and ended on the 11th of November, 1918. The 88th Regiment was called to action and in 1915, the 88th Battalion was formed and deployed overseas. On the home front, the 88th Regiment continued to recruit and serve the people of Victoria and the surrounding area.

The Home Front

As of September 5, 1915, the 88th Regiment had 575 officers and men in Victoria, with 405 on permanent duty, located at the Willows camp and other stations such as the dry dock, ordinance department, the oil tank, and at Bamfield and Pachena.[1]

The 88th Regiment continued to recruit men with the goal to enlist a 1000 men for when the authorization of mobilization arrived. May 1916 marked the authorization of deployment of the 88th Battalion. After deployment, the 88th Regiment continued to recruit in an effort to bring up its strength after the deployment of many of its officers and men, which numbered just over 1100 men sent overseas; they continued to train in preparation of home defense in the case of emergency.[2]

The Nanaimo Miner’s Strike

On August 13, 1913, a miner’s strike caused disturbances in Nanaimo, Ladysmith, and other Vancouver Island areas; the Victoria Fusiliers was mobilized to keep the peace. During this period, Lieutenant-Colonial Hall commanded what was known as the Civil Aid Force and fortunately, the presence of soldiers was enough to restore order.  In Victoria, Lieutenent-Colonial H. J. Rous Cullen had command of the regiment at home. From this date forward, the 88th Regiment was to be on permanent duty.[3]


The Daily Colonist 1915-10-17

The 88th Victoria Fusilier’s Band

The 88th Victoria Fusiliers Band saw its creation in June of 1913.  By the end of 1915, the band made up of 36 instruments, forming one of the most complete and efficient organizations in the West.  It was led by bandmaster Mr. Rumsby. During this year, the band was mobilized at the Willows Camp.

Every Sunday night, the band played at the Variety Theatre and it was said to give “a concert of first class music” to thousands of Victorians.[4]

The Daily Colonist reported on October 17, 1915 the holding of a Patriotic Concert where the 88th Victoria Fusiliers Band would play selections for the evening at the Victoria High School Auditorium with proceeds of the event going to the purchase of uniforms for 100 cadets.

The Daily Colonist 1915-12-05
The Daily Colonist 1915-12-05

Military Tournament

In December of 1915, a military tournament was held at the Horse Show Building, Willows Camp. The event was participated by military and naval units stationed in Victoria. Games and entertainment such as tug-of-war, centipede races, and blindfolded squad drills were played, with bands of the 11th Canadian Mounted Rifles, C.E.F., the 5th Canadian Garrison Artillery, the 67th Battalion, Western Scots, and the 88th Victoria Fusiliers all played at intervals during the performances, concluding with ‘God Save The Queen’.[5]









Soldiers Assist in Opening Streets

In February of 1916, military and civic authorities agreed that a large force of soldiers from a variety of regiments would assist in clearing the main streets of Victoria as to allow the B.C. Electric Railway Company to be able to resume operations as soon as possible.

The 88th Regiment, Victoria Fusiliers detached 130 men to clear the streets from Fort and Government Street along Government to Superior Street and along Superior Street. It was said that the “soldiers labored all day and made splendid progress.”[6]

Written by Geoffrey Hendrie and Nathan Waller


[1] 88th Regiment has Splendid Record. The Daily Colonist September 5, 1915.  Page. 16.
[2] 88th Regiment in Search for New Recruits. The Daily Colonist. June 25, 1916 Page. 5.
[3] 88th Regiment Has Splendid Record. The Daily Colonist September 5, 1915. Page 16.
[4]  Patriotic Concert. The Daily Colonist.  December 2, 1915.
[5] Events Arranged for Tournament. The Daily Colonist December 5 1915.
[6] Soldiers Assist in Opening Streets, The Daily Colonist. February 4, 1916.