Canada Watches Closely

The Gazette offers an interesting look at the anxiety Canadians faced as the Trent Affair unfolded. As colonial parent Britain sabre-rattled with Secretary of State Seward, Canadians wondered if their land would become a war zone.

Garrisons facing the U.S. border were meagre, and reinforcements were dispatched from Britain. But before they could arrive, Canadians themselves were already looking to their own defences.

In Christmas week alone, two companies of the Montreal Volunteer Artillery were organized. Capt. John Kelly and Lt. Angus Bethune volunteered as officers for the second battalion, Montreal Militia, while captains and subalterns of the fifth battalion were canvassing several neighbourhoods for recruits.

Lawyer Joseph Duhamel was raising a battalion in the Quebec suburb, in the eastern part of the city, to be known as la Garde Nationale. Former firemen were urged to sign up with the Montreal Fire Battalion. Pensioned exsoldiers were also called on to volunteer. Even members of a local snowshoe club, the Aurora, became a rifle company.

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