Our History

It is often remarked that “the eye into the soul of a nation is its history”. It is from this view that one is able to determine what a country stood for, how it responded and overcame challenges, its underlying structure, and most importantly, its values. Through a country’s history, one is able to determine a country’s ethos.

Canada’s character has developed from its long-stemming military history, which began prior to Confederation in 1867. Though not typically a warring nation, Canadians have answered the call to arms to defend what citizens hold to be true – their inherent rights and freedoms. Since the War of 1812, civilians have been involved in armed conflict and have helped build Canada’s history and legacy of being a peacekeeping and peacemaking country.

Citizens in Sault Ste. Marie have been involved in every conflict, dating back to the formidable War of 1812. People of Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area have protected others from oppression and aggression throughout history. They have served with dignity, honour, and distinction.

The capture of Fort Michlimiackinac is the first documented example of people from the Sault and surrounding area answering the call to arms. Fur traders along with peoples of First Nations heritage joined together with a small force of British Regulars of Britain’s 10th Royal Veterans, from Fort St. Joseph, to capture Fort Michilimackinac in a surprise attack. They successfully captured the Fort on 17 July 1812 without firing a single shot from their cannon, beginning Canada’s legacy of being a friendly and peacemaking nation.

When Sault Ste. Marie was a mere hamlet of only 304 people, it developed its first-ever volunteer military unit, known as the Sault Ste. Marie Volunteer Infantry Company on 27 January 1865, only two years prior to Confederation. This unit was developed to protect citizens and the area from impending Fenian raids. These volunteers patrolled the St. Mary’s River for Fenian agitators from Marquette, Michigan who threatened Sault Ste. Marie. The volunteer military force patrolled the 60-mile stretch of the shoreline between present-day Gros Cap and Bruce Mines until the threat passed.

The first pathways across the nation were river systems. St. Mary’s River, a major waterway port and travel system, was taken by the Wolseley Expedition as it passed through the Sault area to quell the Manitoba Crises to restore peace and good order.

When the call to arms was placed by the British Empire to defend its imperial territories, Saulites took to arms to fight in the First and Second Boer Wars in South Africa. It was during that Boer Wars that many Canadians experienced for the first time the reality of modern warfare.

From here, the world fell into conflict, and hundreds of volunteers from the Sault and surrounding region signed up for the War to End all Wars. Five battalions worth of servicemen enlisted.

With the outbreak of the Second World War and the rise of fascism, the local militia was called upon to protect the now undefended border with the United States. Defense of the Sault’s vital industry, its shipping channel, and lock system was necessary to protect from axis threats. These local reserves were later sent to the Pacific Coast to defend against a possible Japanese invasion, which thankfully never materialized.

During the Korean War from 1950 – 1953, the Korean Police Action was supported by local volunteers.

Most recently, volunteers deployed to Afghanistan in peacekeeping missions to defend and free the country from Taliban rule.