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Found in an Attic in Woodstock, ON - June 2001

Great Canadian Heritage Treasures - RELICS OF THE BOER WAR
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Canadians at the Battle of Paardeberg, AH Hider
Weekly Supplement to the Globe, 1901 - Size - 44 X 59 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed AH Hider, Pub. Toronto Lithographing Co.
Check that attic of yours !!!!

Three important Boer War era relics were found recently at a farm auction near Woodstock, ON. They were retrieved after sitting for decades amid the darkened and dusty rafters of an ancient farmhouse that was being entirely cleaned out for sale to new owners.

(left) Also found, in a badly battered frame, was the rare Weekly Supplement to the Globe for 1901, "Canadians at Battle of Paardeberg."

Shown directing his men amid the carnage, is a clearly recognizable Col. William Otter, (below), the commanding officer of Canada's first ever overseas military contingent.

Stacked nearby in a rickety frame, was an ancient litho dated 1880, of William Ewart Gladstone, Prime Minister of England during the First Boer War of 1880-1881 (below). He had once been an important person to a family living in this remote farm house.

Also found was a World War I era helmet (below), with pointed brim at the front and a wide and square brim at the back. Inside is stamped in fading type, Chas. Scully, Montreal. Only Canada's First Contingent wore pith helmets, which were an earlier model of this Wolseley pattern helmet. The others all wore the flat brimmed "Mountie" hat which was superior protection from the sun

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
British Prime Minister WE Gladstone
c 1880
Orig. litho - Size - 33 x 46 cm
Found - Woodstock, ON
The First Boer War 1881:

William Ewart Gladstone: This liberal statesman called off the attempt to tame the Boers after they defeated British armies sent to bring them under British control. At the Battle of Majuba Hill, the army of General Colley was annihilated on top of the hill. Some sixty British soldiers, including Colley himself were killed. The Boers lost only three men.

Gladstone decided to make peace. The First Anglo-Boer War ended in victory for the Boers. But there were those who sought to reverse this shameful defeat. "Remember Majuba" became the battle cry of a generation of British soldiers intent on reversing history.

20 years later during the Second Boer War, they would get their chance.

One of those was General Hector Macdonald (below), who had been captured on Majuba Hill as a young lieutenant. This Scottish officer won the respect of Boer and Brit alike as, amid his dead and dying comrades, he continued to fight with his fists.

"Fighting Mac" would get his revenge when he encouraged Lord Roberts to launch his final attack on the Boers at Paardeberg on "Majuba Day", Feb. 27, 1900.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
General Hector Macdonald Mug, 1900
Orig. ceramic mug - Size - 11 x 13 cm
Found - Toronto, ON

The Canadians were in the forward trenches (litho above), that day, and sealed the victory. They would forever after be known as the Heroes of Majuba Day.

The silent story, just waiting to be told, through dusty memorabilia items long set aside in a remote Canadian attic...

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Canadian Pith Helmet, c 1914-18
Orig. Wolseley pattern pith helmet - Size - 9
Found - Woodstock, ON
Signed Wm Scully, Montreal, Named W Besic

The Tragic Story of a Real Canadian Boer War Helmet

I had asked the question a thousand times.

Finally, I got the answer I had hoped to hear, from an elderly antique store owner, in a small Ontario town.

"Sure I've had a Canadian Boer War helmet on a shelf in my house for the past 50 years. It belonged to my wife's uncle, John Woodward, who served during the Fenian Raids, then went to fight in South Africa."

Wow! At last!

Then, just as suddenly, instant gloom ....
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Fenian Raid Medal, 1870
Orig. medal & ribbon
Found - Campbellville, ON
Engraved Pte. J Woodward, 27th Battalion

"But at Christmas I sold it to a friend who wanted to give it to her son, who's a military nut, and lives in Philadelphia."

For years I had searched, and now to have missed one by a whisker... It was heart-breaking.

But perhaps there was a way...

"Could you perhaps make him an offer. I have a wonderful collection of battlefield memorabilia from the Battle of Gettysburg. I'd be willing to swap it for the helmet. He's an American. He'd probably prefer the Civil War relics, to a Canadian Boer War helmet."

He promised to try. A week later he called me.

"He agreed to make the swap with you."

Unbelievable! Fantastic! Good thing I had held on to those Civil War relics. Now at long last, a real Canadian pith helmet which had actually campaigned in South Africa, would take pride of place beside the real Canadian Boer War bugle I had retrieved for posterity from ebay.

"But there is a problem. They can't find it... He looked at it when it arrived, and put it back in the cardboard box in which it was shipped... He thinks now, that when all the empty cardboard boxes from Christmas presents were piled up and thrown out in the garbage, the helmet in its box - it was very light you know - accidentally went out with the trash."

100 years, lovingly preserved on a shelf. In an instant, crushed into the landfill of a Philadelphia dump...

It never did show up...

As consolation he offered me John Woodward's Fenian Raid medal.


right The Fenian Raid Medal inscribed around the rim to "Pte. J. Woodward, 27th Battalion." As a young man he had helped repel the Fenian invaders,* and when middle aged, had gone to South Africa. The helmet he wore there is now gone forever...

*The Fenians were Irish-American activists who believed by attacking Canada from American bases, they could help the cause of Home Rule in Ireland.

c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000