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Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries
More important Canadian antique memorabilia the Museum has recently preserved.

Edgar Alfred Holloway - 1870-1941

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Tommy Atkins' Friend, by Edgar Alfred Holloway, 1899, or
The Charge of the Gordons at Dargai, Oct. 20, 1897
Orig. watercolour on silk - Image Size - 40 x 61 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed Edgar A Holloway '99, and titled.
Because many Canadians - or Brits who moved to Canada - once served in the Victorian, Edwardian, and Georgian, British Armies, in campaigns around the world, they brought souvenirs with them to remind them of their adventures. Clearly this Holloway painting once belonged to a Canadian Victorian veteran.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Calendar, The Soldier's Dream, EA Holloway, 1901
Orig. calendar - Image Size - 47 x 67 cm
Found - St. George, ON
Signed to Elliott, Marr, & Co. Grocers, London, ON

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Sheet Music, The Gordon Highlanders, 1898
Orig. sheet music - copyright 1898
Found - Eugene, OR
Dargai - Fabulous sheet music, copyrighted in London and New York, in 1898, features the brave Gordon Highlanders charging the well-entrenched Muslim Pathan tribesmen, the year before, on the heights of Dargai, on the North West Frontier of India.




A fabulous Canadian discovery is this exquisitely executed watercolour on silk, of a battle scene in 1890s. It also solved a Boer War mystery that had plagued us for some time...
It is extremely rare to find original paintings done during the Boer War, especially large ones like this, and by major artists of the time.

It is hard to overemphasize what an exquisitely painted scene this is. The combination of watercolour on silk, transforms this into a gloriously glowing painting that one never tires of looking at. The colours are marvelous; the detail astonishing; the size, arresting.

Edgar A Holloway was a British artist who excelled, not only in military uniform portraits (Peter Harrington's British Army Uniforms in Colour) but also in children's book illustrations.

This scene was painted in 1899, the year the Boer War started, and while the smoke was still clearing from the battlefields in the Sudan in 1898, and Afghanistan in 1897.

But the enemy in the hills, and those draped over the distant rocks, are wearing white robes of Muslim tribesmen, defending their country from being invaded by warring infidels.

Clearly this is a view of the Gordon Highlanders charging at the Battle of Dargai, in Afghanistan, Oct. 20, 1897, where four Victoria Crosses were awarded.

Boer War Mystery

Some time ago we had discovered a very rare Canadian calendar from 1901, which had been found in the attic of a house in Brantford, Ontario.

Go to Boer War Calendar

It featured a pathetic scene of a dying Highlander dreaming of receiving a final kiss from his daughter being held close by his ghostly wife.

But who was the artist of this marvelously touching Victorian scene of the aftermath of the Battle of Magersfontein, in December 1899.

We believe we have found the answer...


Clearly the painter of both is Edgar A Holloway. The palette is the same, and the placement of the kneeling figures, over a reclining Highlander, was just too powerful a presentation to do only once, in one painting. Holloway reworked it successfully, this time with a nurse.

Holloway also gave nurses and stretcher bearers a central placement in both paintings. And he used a bloodied bandage tied round the head in both as well.

Go to Boer War Nurses

Go to Canadian Nurse

Dargai - The Battle of Dargai occurred during the Tirah Campaign in India, in 1897, while Britain was jousting for economic and political advantage against Russia in Afghanistan, which she had been doing for half a century.

In 1897, to suppress the hostile, local Muslim tribesmen - who for some reason did not take kindly to white, Christian, foreign soldiers, professing to be bearers of the fruits of civilization, coming half way around the globe to shoot up their homeland - the British launched the Tirah Expedition on the North West Frontier of India. Some 33,000 men, and 30,000 animals, marched into the mountain passes of the Hindu Kush, towards Afghanistan.

On Oct. 20, 1897, at Dargai, the British army was brought to a standstill by very angry Muslim Pathan tribesmen (the Afridi), holding firm on the mountain peaks. Several British regiments tried, in vain, to take the heights. Finally it was the turn of the Gordon Highlanders. Col. Mathias, pointing and shouting (left), harangued his men: "The hill must be taken at all costs... the Gordon Highlanders will take it!"

The high point of the battle featured the brave Gordon Highlanders charging the well-entrenched Afridi tribesmen, on the heights of Dargai. Amid a storm of gunfire from above, the Gordons charged into a hail of bullets, urged on by their pipers, skirling wildly at the front.

Led by their Colonel, and five brave battalion pipers, the charge, into a hail of rifle fire, began. Piper George Findlater left, was shot through both feet, and had his half his bagpipes shot away.

Unable to stand, bleeding profusely, and losing consciousness, he propped himself up on a rock and continued to play "Cock O' the North" and "The Haughs O' Cromdale."

The effect was electric; within 40 minutes the heights were taken. The victory, and the bravura heroics of Piper Findlater, cause a sensation in Britain. Piper Findlater was presented the Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria herself, at Netley Hospital, on the regiment's return to Britain. (Four Victoria Crosses in all, were awarded for Dargai.)

This sheet music, and the Edgar Holloway watercolour, reflect wonderfully, the popular frenzy of the time, when it was the height of fashion, for armies of white men, to launch attacks on remote regions of the world, to bestow the benefits of civilization on non-white peoples sadly burdened by inferior race, religion, and political systems.

Mercifully, such military preoccupations, by people of European background, among non-white, non-Christian populations, is now a distant part of our Neanderthal past...

Below, brave men in any culture, Pipers Findlater, right and below left, Milne, and Kidd.

Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996-1999-2005