PWOR History

Princess of Wales’ Own Regiment Museum

A short history about the PWOR

The Regiment was founded on 16 January 1863 as the 14th Battalion Volunteer Militia Rifles, Canada. On 3 July 1868, the Battalion was renamed the 14th Battalion, Princess of Wales’ Own Rifles in honour of Alexandra, Princess of Wales, whose marriage had taken place on 10 March 1863. During the Fenian troubles in Canada the 14th contributed a company to the Niagara frontier in 1864; the whole battalion was called-out to Cornwall in 1866; and half the battalion was placed on active duty in Kingston in 1870. A Drum Major’s mace that was presented to the Battalion by a number of officers “In Remembrance of Cornwall” is in the Regimental Museum. During the Northwest Rebellion the PWOR was placed on active service to garrison Fort Henry from April 1885 to September 1886. Twenty-one volunteers from the PWOR served overseas in the South African War, earning the Regiment its first battle honour.

At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the PWOR was called-out to guard vital points in Kingston, a duty that lasted until October 1917. In the meantime, the Regiment became a recruiting base for the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). A company was sent to the 2nd Canadian Infantry Battalion, CEF, which went overseas in October 1914. On 3 November 1914, the 21st Battalion, CEF, was raised by the PWOR, which supplied numerous officers and men, including its commanding officer, LCol W. St Pierre Hughes. For its contribution, the PWOR was entrusted with the 18 battle honours won by the 21st in France. In addition, the Regiment supplied the commanding officers and many officers and men to the 59th, 146th and 253rd Battalions, CEF.

In 1920, the PWOR changed from a rifle to a line regiment to have Colours to display the Battle Honours of the 21st Battalion, CEF. In 1936, the Regiment received its first set of Colours from Lord Tweedsmuir, Governor General of Canada.

During the Second World War the PWOR contributed a company in 1940 to the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders. Led by LCol G.H. Christiansen, a former PWOR officer, the Glens went ashore on D-Day as part of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade, commanded by Brigadier D.G. Cunningham, another former PWOR officer. In June 1942, the Regiment formed, for active service, the 1st Battalion, commanded by LCol E. Cockburn. It was disbanded in October 1943 in Debert, Nova Scotia to provide reinforcements for units already overseas. Altogether, the PWOR supplied nearly 1,500 officers and men to all three services during the war.

In 1963, the Regiment celebrated its centennial by receiving a second set of Colours. Affixed to the Regimental Colour was the Regimental Badge of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders and the year 1944-45. The PWOR also was granted the Freedom of the City of Kingston.

In 1985, Diana, Princess of Wales became the Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment, a title she held for 11 years. In 1991, she visited the PWOR. In her honour, a third set of Colours with her Cypher and Coronet emblazoned on each corner of the Regimental Colour was presented to the Regiment in 2002.

The PWOR continues to serve Canada as part of the Primary Reserve, and in recent years has sent both men and women to serve overseas in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

The museum has for sale copies of Kingston’s Own, a complete history of the PWOR by BGen (Retired) William J. Patterson, OMM, CD.