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Wellington Wallace

Wellington Wallace (1857-1932) commanded the 36th Peel Regiment from 1904 to 1909, and organized the 234th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the first world war.

He took his first name from his father, Wellington Wallace, Senior, who was born in Tuam, Galway in 1814, just about the time that Arthur Wellesley was created Duke of Wellington, in recognition of his conduct of the peninsular campaign against Napoleon. In 1825, when he was just twelve years old, Wellington senior signed up as a musician with the 27th (Enniskillen) Regiment of Foot. The book which records his enrollment tells of another soldier who joined about the same time – when he deserted the following year he was caught, punished with 600 lashes, forfeiture of pay, and marked with a “D” two inches below his left armpit.

Wellington senior did not stay long with the 27th. In 1849 he married Catherine Lewis, and their son Wellington was born in county Tipperary in 1857. He received some military training in Dublin, and served with the Irish constabulary, before the family came to Canada around 1880. Wellington quickly joined the militia. In 1883 he was a provisional second lieutenant in the 32nd Bruce Battalion of Infantry, and the following year a second lieutenant in No. 4 Company, in Paisley. By 1885 they were in Toronto – the father a clerk in the Central Bank, and the son a clerk as well.

When the northwest rebellion broke out in 1885, Wallace resigned his commission, to serve as a soldier in the Queen’s Own Rifles (QOR). He was at the relief of Battleford (24 April), the action at Cut Knife Hill (2 May), and the pursuit of Big Bear’s band (June-July). He received the North-West medal and clasp.

Back in Toronto, he married Elizabeth Draper in 1886. The same year, he was made a provisional second lieutenant again, now in the QOR. But the following year he transferred to the 36th Peel Regiment, probably because he had moved to Etobicoke. By 1890 he was a captain, and in 1899 was promoted to major. By 1894 he was back in Toronto, living on Spadina Road, a teller in the Home Savings and Loan. One day some would-be robbers walked into the bank at the end of the day, as he was counting the cash, held revolvers to his head, and threatened to blow out his brains if he didn’t hand over the money. Wallace refused, and with the assistance of his staff, drove the men away. They were soon captured by the police, and the ringleader was sentenced to fifteen years in Kingston Penitentiary. (Toronto World, 13 April 1916.)

Wallace retained his place in the 36th, and about 1896, when he was adjutant, he published a booklet that outlined the sequence of training at a twelve day camp, Instructive handbook of reference by sections to squad, company and battalion drill.

From the 36th, he went on to command the 14th Infantry Brigade, composed of the 23rd Northern Pioneers in Parry Sound, the 31st Grey, the 35th Simcoe and the 36th Peel. He received the Colonial Auxiliary Officer’s Decoration in 1910. (GO 87, 1910). In 1916 he was called out of retirement to organize the 234th Peel Battalion, CEF. Being too old to be allowed to go overseas, he retired the following year. Wellington Wallace died in Toronto 19 May 1932.

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