Boer War Discovery Page 92f

Rare Boer War Discoveries

Below are some of the items the Canadian Boer War Museum has added to its collections in its ongoing efforts to preserve important Canadian heritage memorabilia from this period.

King's Scout Board Game - 1900 - 1

1 2 3 4 5 6

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
The King's Scout Game, c 1911
Orig. game - Size - box 12" X 13" - board 12.5" x 24.5"
Found - Paris, ON
The box is of extra heavy cardboard, bound with glossy, dark red coloured paper. A small piece is missing on one corner, and an interior partition is a bit scrunched; nothing a conservator cannot set right again, restoring it to "near store" condition.

The heavy construction of the box has done its job; the board itself is "mint." And not a single part seems to be missing...

There must be another reason why, after 100 years it is all still here, and so marvelously preserved!

The King's Scout Game
Rare Canadian Game: How wonderfully rare, to find a game in virtually pristine condition, which was played with by children who were raised amid the turmoil of the Boer War and its aftermath.

It was found in a small town Ontario auction and aroused not the slightest interest from an audience more interested in toy tractors, steam engines, quilts, and cups and saucers.

The game features a very young looking British King George V, and equally young Lord Baden-Powell, and refers to the game as being the inspiration of the late Edward VII. This dates the game of the King's Scout to 1911 or 1912. "British Manufacture" - instead of the later c 1921 "Made in Britain" label - also supports this date.

The World Scouting movement, inspired by Baden-Powell's encounters with American super scout Frederick Russell Burnham and his experiences in the Matabele and Boer Wars, was then in full swing. People still thought that Boy Scout preparedness and skill with jackknives, bugles, and semaphore flags, would prevent or win the next war.

Games from the Boer War period turn up from time to time but almost always only the board itself survives. And it is always in rough shape.

Here is a rare game where all the parts survive and in very fine condition, including: the original box with its magnificently coloured cover, the instructions, the large three-fold board, the Boy Scout badges, the die, the wooden tumbler, and four cast lead and hand-painted men.

A Haunting Mystery? Why did this game survive in such immaculate condition?

Could it be that the small town Ontario boys, who once boisterously moved these men around the board, went off a few years later, and were consumed by the holocaust of World War I?

And did their grieving mother store it away lovingly in their memory?

And did she, in her twilight years, sometimes take it out of its hiding place, and pass her fingers delicately over the pieces, trying to rekindle a bond with beloved children whose early deaths put a rip in her heart that time and tears would never heal?

Two typical board games from the Boer War are shown here. "The War in South Africa" included both a child and adult version and involved casting dice to advance around South Africa to capture the Boer commandos and towns. It too is extremely rare.

"Called to Arms" is another game that is typical in that only the board had survived.

c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000