The Regiment was created on January 16, 1863 as the 14th Battalion Volunteer Militia Rifles, Canada from the amalgamation of Kingston, Ontario’s seven independent rifle companies, and predates Confederation. HRH The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) married Princess Alexandra of Denmark on March 10, 1863; just seven weeks after the founding of the Regiment. This prompted the Regiment to seek permission to become The Princess Of Wales’ Own Regiment, an honour which was granted on January 9, 1868. The exemplary service of the Regiment throughout the five year period (1865 -1868) during which the Fenian movement attempted to persuade the people of Canada to overthrow British sovereignty by propaganda and direct military intervention, was a deciding factor in her assent.
|1860s||During the Fenian scare, the Regiment provided a company from December 1864 to May 1865 to composite Militia Batallion formed to watch the border in the Niagara area. A call-out of the unit again occured from March 8-31, 1866 in Kingston and from June 2-18 in Cornwall during the time of an actual Fenian invasion of parts of Canada. The band mace with the inscription “Iim Remembrance of June Cornwall 1866” which was presented by eitght officers of the Reiment (presumably those who went to Cornwall) is in the PWOR museum.|
|1885||In 1885, during the Riel Rebellion the PWOR was again activated, but not for field service in the West as it had hoped. It was destined for garrison duties at Tête-de-Pont Barracks (now Fort Frontenac) and Fort Henry.|
|Boer War||D Company of the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment was raised from the Kingston area militia and the PWOR contributed seven members on 14 October 1899. Eventually, 20 members served in South Africa and for this commitment the Regiment was granted the Battle Honour “South Africa, 1900.”|
|World War I||
The outbreak of World War 1 in 1914 resulted in a response by members of the regiment that was quite remarkable. The PWOR contributed E Company, three officers and 80 men, to the 2nd Battalion, CEF. Capt L. E. Guttman (later Goodwin) commanded the company with Lt G. T. Richardson (for whom George Richardson Stadium in Kingston is named) and C. W. Day as junior officers. Richardson joined the Regiment on May 1, 1907 and was killed on February 9, 1916. Before he died Richardson had been promoted to captain and commanded the company.
Two months later, the 21st Batallion, CEF was formed in Kingston, under the Commanding Officer of the PWOR, Lieutenant-Colonel William St. Pierre Hughes. St Pierre Hughes, who was a brother of Sir Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia and Defence, became a brigadier with the DSO and VD. The PWOR also contributed officers and men to the 39th, 59th, 146th and 253rd Battalions, CEF.
The history of the 21st Battalion, which the PWOR perpetuates, is far too long to relate here but can be found on their own webstie. However, it should be mentioned that the unit earned eighteen Battle Honours in three years of frontline service. A great deal of the 21st Battalion history, including its Colours, is found in the regimental museum, along with a photo tribute to the 21st Batallion.
During the Great War, the 21st Battalion had a mascot- a white goat named “Nan”, who retired to the Royal Military College of Canada stables from 1919 until her death on September 22, 1924 at 12 years of age.
The PWOR carried on to have a few goats as mascots over the years named Giles.
|Inter-War Years||In 1920, in the post war re-organization of the Militia, the 14th Battalion, Princess of Wales’ Own Rifles was re-designated as a line infantry regiment, and renamed the Princess of Wales Own Regiment so that it could carry the Battle Honours and Colours of the 21st Battalion, CEF (a rifle regiment carries its Battle Honours on its drums). n November 7, 1936, the Regiment received its colours, complete with Battle honours|
|World War II||The Regiment provided one complete company (A Company) to the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders (Glens), which went under canvas at the Kingston fairgrounds. The Glens went ashore on D-Day under a PWOR officer, Lieutenant-Colonel G.H. Christiansen, as part of the 9th (Highland) Brigade, commanded by another PWOR officer, Brigadier-General Douglas Gordon Cunningham. In June 1942, the 1st Battalion PWOR was formed under Lieutenant-Colonel E. Cockburn, ED and it served in Sherbroke, Quebec and Debert, Nova Scotia, where it was deployed for East Coast defence.|
|Post War Years||
In 1963, the PWOR celebrated its Centennial, and was granted freedom of the City of Kingston. It was presented with the new Colours by the Lieutenant Governor, the Honorable Earl Rowe. On the Colours was emblazoned the badge of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, 1939–1945, commemorating the service of PWOR members in that regiment.
The PWOR went through a decline during the 1970s, where a measure of a unit’s success was simply the ability to remain active and keep off the increasing list of once proud units now relegated to the supplementary order of battle. The regiment was reduced to a minor unit, with only one authorized company for most of the Seventies, until finally in 1978, it was again elevated to major unit status.
The regiment has always acquitted itself well in competition over the years, whether in sports, shooting or skill at arms. In 1895 the Regimental Quarter Master represented Canada at Bisley. His rifle and some of his winnings are on display in the museum. More recently a member of the unit was part of the 1990 Canadian Forces Bisley Team and a member of the unit’s Cadet Corps distinguished herself on the same ranges.