Henry's grandfather Peter Taylor Poussette was born in London, UK, became a lawyer, and emigrated to Canada and settled in Sarnia, Ontario, in 1839.
His most famous offspring, Dr. AC Poussette became Mayor of Sarnia and took a high profile in local political affairs.
His other son, Henry Maddox Poussette became an insurance agent and was Henry Rivington's father.
An early internet photo from c 1890 clearly shows the young Henry Rivington with his lacrosse team.
Henry's distinctive features show him sitting in the middle on the far left and allow us to pick him out in many of the photos in his album.
Henry followed his father into the insurance business.
Then at 29 he went off to the Boer War in South Africa.
A typical page from Henry's photo album shows the life he lived in South Africa during the Boer War.
As is typical of so many of these albums the pictures were not identified; the owner, after all, knew what each picture was about and didn't need to write it down.
Our curator has had to sort out Henry's photos by referencing them to known people, places, and events.
For instance we believe Henry put the important pictures on the first page.
In fact we are certain that General Baden-Powell is in two of the pictures on the left.
And there's Henry standing among his boys, on his horse, and his lads guarding a rock pile complete with Canadian ensign.
Two photos Henry featured prominently at the front of his album show the unmistakable profile of his commander Major-General Baden-Powell probably during an inspection tour of Henry's unit at Koffiefontein.
The officers with plumes are probably Australians.
Many photo albums of soldiers show anonymous men whom they encountered during the war as they did their drudge work. Rarely would they run into a celebrity general and if they did their camera was never handy. Generals were always going by on their way to more important places.
But Henry is different. As a captain, and a district commandant for General Baden-Powell, he could be expected to get a visit from his boss to see how his sector was doing.
Clearly this was such an occasion and Henry shows this officer grouping in different photos. Probably he wanted to show the folks back home that he was actually in physical contact with the most famous general in the world and later the founder of the Boy Scout movement.
There is another surprise though...
We believe standing aside, watching BP consult with his officers, is Lord Kitchener himself, the British Commander-in-Chief of the war effort in South Africa, from 1900 till 1902.
He would, no doubt, sometimes visit various parts of the front with General Powell and other generals. We believe Henry's camera captured one such moment.
Kitchener's profile is convincing.
Comparing his features with a known photo of him during the same period, he is unmistakable: his chin and chin line, his nose, eyes, the slope at the back of his head, his hairline and cut, and the general configuration of his ear and the layout of its lobes and folds.
Henry was one of the rare soldier photographers who was able to snap photos of the top two officers of his service in the Boer War.
Below right General Kitchener sketched in 1901, the same year Henry's photo was taken, in the uniform he wore when he reviewed troops.
Just more corroborative proof that the man in Henry's photo is indeed, K of Chaos. Below another pic of BP and K from Henry's album.
The largest photo in the album shows Henry as a proper British officer, in civvies, and sporting his cane, proudly sitting in the midst of his officers and NCOs, probably in front of the SAC headquarters at Koffiefontein. below with his horse.
Surprisingly Henry is not a tall man, but his force of personality must have been substantial to make him stand out for a command position in the South African Constabulary.
The shots among the rocks are probably posed, on a day when they had little else to do, and decided to take some "Kodaks" for the folks back home. Note how the photographer, with Henry's camera, is well outside the stone barricades where the Boers are supposed to be threatening. But they are nowhere close.
Henry often wore the peaked forage cap, instead of the unique flat-brimmed Canadian stetson that Canucks in the field preferred to wear, probably to parade their distinctiveness from the British Tommies, and Aussies with their pinned up brims and plumes.
An unique picture shows that Canadians were distinctive in other ways. Here the Red Ensign, not the much more commonly displayed Union Jack, is flaunted by Henry's lads. The flag is symbolic of Canadian volunteers chaffing under irksome British military idiotsyncrasies that independent minded Canadians found hard to stomach.
The Canadians were all civilians - Henry was an insurance agent - who had just signed up for six months or a year for war duty in South Africa, before returning to civvy street. They guarded their civilian outlook and values from what they saw as mindless military rules.
The Canadians came under the command of British officers who were regulars, as were the vast majority of British soldiers, all of whom were quite used to the asinine idiocies common in the military. Hence civilians grew to mock the term "military intelligence" which crept into the dictionary as two words that were diametrically opposed. The Canadians remained, at heart, civilians, who just happened to wear a uniform for the moment.
The Red Ensign says these lads were free spirits, and would not put up with dumb rules synonymous with the Union Jack. This attitude led to friction between Canadians and their British officers on many occasions.
And sometimes with their Canadian commanders, like Colonel Otter, who were eager to please their British superiors unquestioningly.
Lights... Camera... Action - One of the most interesting photos in Henry's album is the dive picture which catches, probably Henry, in mid-air with a friend triggering his Kodak. There is another photo of Henry gazing from the water.
It was a common complaint, by so-called war photographers, sent out by their newspapers to catch action shots of troops fighting in the Boer War, that the camera technology was just too poor to be able to capture "action shots" of combat which the editors were desperate to get.
The excuses were two fold: that the cameras were just too big and heavy to follow the fast moving fighting troops at the front.
Others said the cameras were just not able to capture "action" shots.
The editors believed this because for 60 years people in studios had to stand very still for long exposures to capture a sharp image on the glass plate.
But Kodak, which introduced its compact folding cameras, and its paper negatives, in the 1890s changed all that, as Henry's pictures show.
He took his small camera everywhere and could clearly snap good "action" pictures when he chose.
He has captured women running while playing tennis, frozen several bucking horses in mid-leap, and has a fine picture of a horse race.
Clearly the contract photographers were lying, to avoid having to risk their lives, because here, on Henry's photos, are bodies in motion that are frozen in mid-air, in almost sharp detail, showing live action.
Clearly the photo technology was there to capture action, with just the right amount of blur that modern photographers strive for to avoid the look of a figure frozen still, instead of captured in motion.
Just photographers with the will to use them by exposing themselves to the same danger as the fighting troops, were not.
Though war news editors were pining for "danger" shots, of men in "action" tackling the enemy up close, they never got them, though there were hundreds of thousands of photos taken in the most photographed war in history.
Their cameramen employees insisted on taking big box cameras into the field to get "quality shots," and sent home, instead, interminable pictures of camps, horses staked out, men marching, and sitting around tents, all far behind the lines from where the shooting was being done.
The cameramen really relied on their big box cameras to be their life insurance. They were always packing up when the troops moved on, and trailed the army rather than embedding with the lead units. As a result war photographer was pretty well the safest job during the Boer War.
The photographers were clearly just too scared to take their cameras up to where the shooting was being done. No photographer thought they were being paid enough to risk their lives for a picture.
Which is why no combat photos were taken in the Boer War until Captain James Cooper Mason, a courageous Canadian officer, stood up in the Battle of Paardeberg and snapped the world's first combat photograph. A photo that had been 60 years in the making... And would not be repeated for years to come.
Lt. Col. Louis Eugene du Moulin, Royal Sussex Regiment (1860-1902)
Henry took snapshots of a number of graves of soldiers. After all this was war and graves were all over the place.
Henry took one of the Canadian graves at Paardeberg but it is too poor in quality to show much beyond that bodies of officers and men were buried where they fell, covered with rock piles and posted with a marker of sorts.
Two interesting photos right show more typical Boer War period graves.
With a magnifying glass we deciphered that in the middle was the grave of Lt. Col. Du Moulin, of the Royal Sussex Regiment, killed at Abraham's Kraal, in January 1902.
He was killed during a night attack by Boer commandoes who were finally repulsed.
The battle took place not far from where Henry was posted at Koffiefontein and while he was nearby.
The photo shows that wooden planks were often the only markers available. Sometimes rock slabs or stones were used, with the details scratched on with bayonets.
Through the years these markers fell apart or faded.
It was only in the 1960s and 70s that bodies were unearthed from inconvenient places, and reburied in centralized - often community - cemeteries.
Some, in more remote locations were just left alone.
One of these was the grave of Col. du Moulin.
The Boer War, though virtually forgotten in Canada, has common and daily reminders wherever one travels in the northern provinces of South Africa.
Blockhouses, graves, markers, battlefields, are all over the place, a reminder of a conflict that probably killed off some 10% of Boer women, children, and men.
Below an article from the Republic of South Africa's Sunday Times which shows the latest story of what happened at Col. du Moulin's grave site, long forgotten during the 107 years since Henry took his pictures there.
One of the remarkable things is that Afrikaners who suffered huge civilian losses - some 26,000 women and children, compared to only 4,000 Boer fighting men - are often as passionate at protecting the grave sites, and properly memorializing their former enemies, as they are of their own.
One such passionate man is David Scholtz at whose fabulous Langberg Guest Farm we stayed when we visited Kimberley, and the battlefields at Modder River, Belmont, Enslin, and Paardeberg. His house was actually a Boer command post during the battles in this area in 1899.
He was upset that Col. du Moulin's grave was not known, or properly registered or marked, and went about doing something about it.
He is the subject of the following story.
Canada's First War Overseas - Against peaceful civilian farmers, their wives, and children...
A wonderfully symbolic picture Henry took, that shows Canada's role in the Boer War.
Regular soldiers in uniform surround, having captured for imprisonment, the ordinary Boer men of all ages, from boys in their teens to old men in their seventies and eighties.
They will be separated from their wives and children by force, and shipped thousands of miles away to Ceylon, St. Helena, and Bermuda, for years to come.
Years later, when they are allowed to come home they will find that their women and children had been imprisoned locally, and that tens of thousands of them were dead.
One must remember that, in the first war that Canada ever sent soldiers to fight overseas, they were attacking, not a professional army of a renegade state, but Boer civilian farmers rising up to protect their peaceful homeland from invading foreign (also Canadian) troops.
Right a common sight during the Boer War, as the conflict changed from military men confronting each other to guerilla tactics at the end of 1900.
When the Boer men, hugely outnumbered, changed to guerilla warfare, the British switched to slash and burn, doing an end run around the men to tackle their women, elders, and kids, left defencelessly on the farms.
British generals like Kitchener hoped that if the farms were burned to the ground, all the livestock killed (millions of sheep, cattle, and horses were killed and left to rot) and the women and children locked up in concentration camps, the men would give up.
Wrote Canadian Lt. EWB Morrison who was there when Canadians sacked Dullstroom, "Nobody who was there will ever forget that day's work. There was nobody in the town but women and children.... Amid the row of the cannonade and the crackle of riflefire, the sacking of the place began.... on the steps of the church were huddled a group of women and children. Their faces were white and their eyes blazed....."
Right an evocative drawing that is very hard to find in Boer War era history books, because it would not ring well with civilians - especially rural people - back home in Canada or the UK.
And its heading was suitably left at the door of "Colonial Troops Burning a Boer House."
In fact the vigorous looters and burners are Canadians wearing the typical flat brimmed stetson associated with the frontiersmen from the wild Canadian west.
Canadians did a lot of this work for General Kitchener, and is one reason very few extended their contracts to continue on in South Africa after their one year term of service was up.
Unlike the hardened and lower class British regulars, who relished this work - hey it's why they joined the military - Canadian civilian volunteers, who had much more education, and often had rural roots themselves, found burning homesteads, killing livestock, and making women and children homeless and destitute, extremely distasteful, as noted by EWB Morrison left with Boer War VC winner Richard Turner right. Both did the burning as young men and became generals in World War I.
In our day this idea of war against helpless civilians has been ruthlessly updated by the Israelis, who believe it was badly applied as a tactic in the Boer War, and switched to deliberately killing - not just locking up - thousands of civilian Muslim women and children, in Lebanon, and Gaza, hoping in this way, to bring their elusive men folk to heel and desperately sue for a deal at any price. Or lose more women and children during the next round.
It's why French-Canadians, en masse, opposed the Boer War Canadian military adventure. They said Canadians were merely being used as sidekick gunmen by Britain, the world's most terrorist nation of the age, to help subdue a helpless foreign country to the will and exploitation of its corporate elites.
Who said History doesn't repeat... on me... British corporate interests wanted the gold fields the Boers had and so engineered an intervention to get what they wanted by force. And the toadying politicians tarted it up with patriotic ribbons to fool the public into participating. (A total repeat of Canada's military intervention in Afghanistan a century later, with the Canadians, this time, being mere sidekick gunmen to the Americans.)
And the cost to Boer civilians who dared oppose foreign military intervention in their communities, was burned houses and barns, and some 26,000 thousand dead women and children. (Many more Afghan women and children have been ruthlessly exterminated as a result of US and NATO intervention.)
Henry took a number of pictures of burned out barns and houses, with the Boer family that once happily lived there now dispersed, with women and children either in concentration camps or dead, and the men folk in the distant hills, on the run, or also dead.
Not exactly a proud moment in Canadian history, but a major part of their heritage that Canadians should remember.
But positively rosy compared to what Canadians have done in Afghanistan, levelling the country with billions of dollars of shells, bombs, and bullets.
US toadying Canadian politicians of all stripes say they are doing wonderful things there.
But they never explain how, when the cost of the NATO intervention in Muslim civilian dead - women, children, and men - far outstrips, by tens of thousands, the civilian dead of the Boer War.
An Officer, and a Gentleman
Henry shot quite a few pictures of himself with ladies, on picnics, playing tennis, going horseback riding, or on buggy or wagon outings. These unidentified women probably all from Koffiefontein, were likely local English rather than Boer women, who had nothing to smile about during those years.
A rare photo shows Henry with his Kodak, a rather large folding model.
Right Henry in South Africa, during a war he probably considered terrible enough.
Henry, like so many other Canadian civilians, answered the call only six years after returning from South Africa, and signed up to fight in World War I, the most awful war in history.
After the horrid butchery he saw in Europe, his South Africa experiences must have been a wonderful time of memories. Which is why he created this large photo album.
He took no pictures during World War I. The personal memories of the most ghastly war in history, that talentless and conniving white European Christian politicians had orchestrated for mankind, were awful enough, thank you... No need to be reminded with pictures of the carnage, and scores of friends whose lives were wasted... For absolutely nothing...