The Lincoln and Welland Regiment - History

Our History

The history of the Regiment can be traced to the raising of Butler's Rangers on 15 September 1777. Lieutenant Colonel John Butler, an officer in the New York colonial militia and the British Indian Department, was a Loyalist from the Mohawk Valley in New York. He convinced Sir Guy Carleton, the Governor of Canada, that a Ranger unit should be raised to fight on the frontiers in conjunction with the Indians. He eventually raised 10 companies and some 900 officers and men headquartered at Fort Niagara. Butler’s Rangers fought on the frontiers of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky before being reduced to nil strength on 24 June 1784. By 1794, after several re-organizations, Colonel Butler and most of the former Rangers formed the Lincoln Militia in the Niagara Region.

By the outbreak of the War of 1812 the Lincoln Militia had been organized into five regiments. Elements of each of those regiments were involved in all major engagements from Niagara to Detroit, including the Battle of Queenston Heights on 13 October 1812. There, a soldier of the 2nd Lincoln Militia, captured an American Regimental Colour - an act unique in the history of the Canadian Army.

During the rebellion of 1837, units of the Lincoln Militia were called out to quell rebel uprisings in the Niagara Peninsula and the 2nd Lincoln was warned for duty in Toronto. In 1838 the 2nd Lincoln conducted marches into the Short Hills to subdue rebel activity there. In 1866, large elements of the Lincoln Militia were called out to repel the Fenian Raids.

Between 1866 and 1914 there were various name changes and reorganizations. In 1914, the 19th “Lincoln” Regiment had its headquarters in St. Catharines, and the 44th “Lincoln and Welland” Regiment had its headquarters in Niagara Falls; each unit comprised eight companies. With the outbreak of World War I, both of those units contributed enormously to the Welland Canal Field Force and the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The gallant service overseas won numerous Battle Honours and awards, including one Victoria Cross.

On 15 December 1936, the two units, then known as The Lincoln Regiment and The Lincoln and Welland Regiment, were reorganized into The Lincoln and Welland Regiment with an establishment of 467 all ranks.

The day before the Second World War began, the Regiment was called out and posted to guard the Welland Ship Canal and various hydro-electric generation stations. It was demobilized in December of 1939 and almost 500 men immediately volunteered with Toronto units. In June 1940, the 1st Battalion, The Lincoln and Welland Regiment was mobilized for active service. The 2nd Battalion was to remain in reserve.

The 1st Battalion arrived in the United Kingdom in July of 1943 and fought its first action at Tilly ­La­ Campagne, France, on 31 July 1944. It saw combat in France, Holland, Belgium and Germany. On 5 May 1945, the battalion was out of contact with the enemy near Bad Zwischenahn, Germany, when it received orders to cease all offensive operations and stand fast. The war officially ended three days later. Over 1500 men of the Regiment were casualties, and of the original men who enlisted in 1940, only 3 officers and 22 men were on parade with the Battalion in St. Catharines in 1946 when it was dismissed.

Since the end of World War II, the Regiment has busied itself with the many tasks entrusted to the Canadian Militia in peace. Ceremonial parades have been attended and Guards mounted, the most notable of which were the visit of HRH The Princess Elizabeth and her husband HRH The Prince Philip at Niagara Falls in 1951, and the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, to Niagara­-on­-the-­Lake in 1981. Most recently, HRH Prince Edward visited in 2003, also to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

During the Blizzard of 1977 in the Niagara Peninsula, the Regiment was called out for the first time since the end of the war to provide assistance to the civil authority. It rescued over 1500 school children stranded in schools, and provided assistance to countless residents during the emergency. The Regiment received a vote of thanks from the House of Commons for this duty. The Regiment again answered the call providing soldiers to assist during the Winnipeg Floods in 1996 and the Ice Storm of 1998 in Ontario and Quebec.

The training of young soldiers in the skills of war continues, and large numbers of them have passed through the ranks of the Regiment. Many continue to be deployed into harm’s way overseas on tours of duty with NATO forces in Europe and peacekeeping forces in Egypt, Cyprus, Namibia, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Cambodia, the Middle East and the Congo. Most recently, members of the Regiment have deployed on operations in Afghanistan.

Its motto, NON NOBIS SED PATRIÆ, exemplifies the Regiment's service in peace and war.

More history on The Lincoln and Welland Regiment can be found on the History and Heritage website.

Date modified: