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War games and crack shots

July 9, 2011

Defenceless condition

In typically contrary fashion, as the City prepared to enter into closer ties to the south by rail, the New Westminster Board of Trade reacted to fears of a sea-borne invasion with a resolution addressed to the Minister of Militia, directing his attention to:

"the defenceless condition of North Bluff, Semiahmoo Bay, and to request that measures be taken to have that place fortified as to protect this part of the mainland from any hostile force which might be landed there."

Militia companies were as active in 1889 as in 1864 after the departure of the force of Sappers.  They practiced and competed against each other, with the meetings more in the nature of sport and festival than of war games. 

Crack shots

In the summer of ’89, C Battery arrived from Victoria and "went into camp on the meadow above the field range at Brownsville. . ." 
Teams of riflemen from near and far competed for a dozen individual and team prizes on the ranges of 200 to 600 yards.
As part of the opening ceremony at Brownsville  Mrs WN Bole fired the opening shot at the 200 yards range. A newspaper reported the economic spin-off benefits of the games which attracted visitors from Vancouver Island.   "Mr Punch has erected a refreshment booth near the butts." 

With smell of gunpowder in the air, interest in the City and District ran high.

"A telephone line has been rigged up from the target to the firing point and a telegraph line from the ground to the city, and full particulars will be sent as the events take place."

The matches took place the first week of August, under smoky conditions caused by the burning woods.

"At the third day of the BC Rifle Association meeting a heavy fog settled over the range in the morning and delayed the firing . . .it being impossible to compete at the long ranges. . ."

From 50 to 100 marksmen competed for the silverware, with the support of crowds of spectators.  Presenting  prizes were Mrs Nelson, wife of the Lieutenant-Governor, and Lieut-General Laurie.

The Victoria paper consoled its readers that the islanders

"were fairly successful, considering the disadvantages of a strange range and the cloudy weather which prevailed throughout all the matches."

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