From the 48th Highlanders Museum
LtCol in Review Order

This Day in History

1st Commanding Officer of 48th Highlanders Confirmed on 25 March 1892

Colonel Davidson Photo
Lt. Col Davidson’s personal uniform, shown in this photograph, is on display at the 48th Highlanders Museum.

The appointment of Lieutenant Colonel John Irvine Davidson as the first Commanding Officer of the 48th Highlanders was confirmed on 25 March 1892. He had been gazetted (provisionally) on 20 November 1891 just weeks after the authorization of the regiment by the Government of Canada in October 1891. Lt.-Col. Davidson served as Commanding Officer from 1891 to 1898.

Davidson’s role with the 48th Highlanders began when asked by Alexander Fraser, journalist and Scottish author, and Captain Wilbur Henderson, a Scot who had served in the 34th Battalion in Toronto since 1880, to join with a select few of influential Scots at a meeting on 30 June 1891. Their goal was to gain government approval for an infantry regiment in Toronto that would reflect their heritage and traditions. The committee represented the many Scottish societies across Toronto including: the Gaelic Society of Toronto; the St. Andrew’s Society; the Caledonian Society, and the Sons of Scotland, as well as members of the Management Board of St. Andrew’s Church, a Presbyterian church founded in 1837.

On 3 July, they asked Captain John Irvine Davidson, a leading businessman and Captain in 10th Royal Grenadiers of Toronto, to be the first Commanding Officer.

Colonel Davidson Painting
This oil painting done by E Wyly Grier in 1910 of Lt. Col. Davidson hangs in the Officers’ Mess in Moss Park Armoury.

Born in 1854 in Wartle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, Davidson immigrated to Canada in his twenties, rose in business to become head of Davidson & Hay, Merchants and by the date of his appointment to command was vice president of the Canadian Bank of Commerce and president of the Board of Trade. He went on to become president, St. Paul’s Mining Company, and director of several other companies. In the military he began as a private in Scotland, serving a total of five years in the 7th Aberdeenshire Volunteers, the London Scottish and the Uxbridge Yeomanry. In Toronto, he was an officer for six years in the 10th Royal Grenadiers, rising to captain. He served on the Board of Managers of St. Andrew’s Church, including six years as Chairman. The 48th appointed him Honorary Lieutenant Colonel upon his retirement in 1898, a position he held until his death in 1910.

The Committee, having selected Davidson to be the first Commanding Officer then chose a tartan, the “Old Davidson”, in his honour and a regimental crest, a “falcon’s head erased”, which was part of the Davidson family crest.  Within the 48th cap badge is a couped Falcon head and the motto ‘Dileas gu Brath’ (Gaelic for ‘faithful for ever’). A Scottish belt, symbolizing the clan, surrounded the badge, which quickly became known as the Buckle Badge to members of the regiment. St. Andrew’s Church became the Regimental Church, a role that continues to this day

Order to Begin Enrolling Oct 1891
Order to begin enrolling men – from Lt Col W.D. Otter, D.A.G. –20 Oct 1891

Following two deputations by the committee to the Government in Ottawa in July 1891, supported by a City Council resolution advanced by Toronto’s Mayor E.F. Clarke and Alderman Saunders, approval was gained. On 16 October 1891, the regiment was gazetted. General Orders 19. No.4 specified “eight companies of the Active Militia of the strength of 42 non-commissioned officers and men per company, to be formed into a battalion wearing the Highland Dress.”

This letter, now on display in the 48th Highlanders Museum from the deputy commander of Militia District No. 2 was the first order received, four days after the 48th Regiment (Highlanders) had been gazetted.

The Committee wasted no time and by the end of October the regiment was at authorized strength.  The majority of those who volunteered in October were first or second-generation Scots, an unsurprising fact since Scots made up 28 percent of Toronto at that time. Today, the Regiment continues to reflect the current makeup of Torontonians in race, culture and religion. All though declare themselves as proud Highlanders.


ON EXERCISE URBAN FALCON 2022, Soldiers of the 48th Highlanders, had their urban ops skills put to the test as they practiced fighting through and clearing subway cars through a subway station with simmunition rounds. In their exercise scenario, their mission was to rescue and secure a hi-jacked train from a well trained enemy. They fought against a simulated enemy force of other infantry Master Corporal’s and Sergeants, who set traps and obstacles in their path to test how they would react. Attached to the regiment in this exercise were a small amount of medics and Intelligence personnel from @25fdamb as well as @2intcoy_2cierens, which enabled soldiers to practice intel gathering/handling as well as dealing with casualties in a realistic manner.

Video filmed by Capt Lau and Cpl Chung
Video edited by MCpl Clark

Voici ce qui s'est passé lors de l'exercice Urban Falcon 2022. Les soldats des 48th Highlanders ont vu leurs compétences en opérations urbaines mises à l'épreuve alors qu'ils s'entraînaient à combattre et à dégager les voitures de métro à travers une station de métro avec des balles de vaccination, dans un scénario où leur but était de sauver et de sécuriser un train détourné d'un ennemi bien entraîné. Ils se sont battus contre une force d'opposition de caporal-chef et de sergents, qui ont tendu des pièges et des obstacles sur leur passage. Au régiment dans cet exercice se trouvaient un petit nombre d'infirmiers et de personnel du renseignement de @25fdamb ainsi que de @2intcoy_2cierens, ce qui a permis aux soldats de pratiquer le rassemblement/manipulation de renseignements ainsi que de faire face aux victimes de manière réaliste.

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On March 5th and 6th, Soldiers of the 48th Highlanders, with members from @2intcoy_2cierens and @25fdamb, who augmented our soldiers as an opportunity to practice their trade skills under the Tactical-Control of an infantry platoon, run through their “prepare for battle” phase during their simulated mission on Exercise Urban Falcon 2022, in which the soldiers were put under the stress of fighting in close quarters, and learning to maneuver and communicate in an entirely new environment.

Video editing by MCpl Clark
Video filmed by Capt Lau and Cpl Chung

Les membres des 48th Highlanders, avec des membres de @2intcoy_2cierens et @25fdamb, qui ont augmenté nos soldats comme une occasion de pratiquer leurs compétences professionnelles sous le contrôle tactique d'un peloton d'infanterie, pratiquent la phase de « préparation à la bataille » au cours de leur mission simulée dans le cadre de l'exercice Urban

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