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

Great Victorian & Edwardian Military Bugles 1890-1917 - 2

1 3 5 7 9 11
2 4 6 8 10 12
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

A fabulous bugle in a number of ways: the bugle is Canadian manufactured, a very rare kind of bugle to find anymore, most Allied military bugles being British or Belgian made.

This one was made by RS Williams & Sons from Toronto, in 1916, during World War I. It was also made for the military as it is stamped with the Queen's broad arrow. Better yet, it has the Canadian version of the broad arrow, stamped inside an almost enclosing "C" for Canada, the only such stamp we have ever seen on a bugle. It has a Stanley mouthpiece of the same age, that removes easily, instead of being missing or jammed in on so many abused bugles.

This bugle is also superb in that it sports the most untouched patina of all the bugles on this page, likely being locked in a trunk, since it was last used, some 90 years ago, probably on the Western Front, by a boy from Strathroy, Ontario...

The ancient patina on these dents and gouges certifies that these, indeed, are real battle scars, not the pretend ones that slavering antique sellers parade on all the shiny bugles they have for sale. All made, of course, by children, at play... Certainly not on this one, which was preserved by its original owner as a precious peaceful item from a horrid part of his life. Until he passed on, and the family decided it was time for the bugle to go too...

World War I Canadian Bugle - RS Williams Mfg, 1916
Orig bugle - Size - 28 cm
Found - Strathroy, ON
Signed RS Williams & Sons Co. Ltd., Canadian broad arrow

RS Williams & Sons Co. Ltd. - Hundreds of thousands of Canadians were destined to serve in World War I. This is a very early bugle from that conflict.

The Williams musical instrument factory had been established by Richard Sugden Williams (b London, UK, 12 Apr 1834, d Toronto 24 Feb 1906) in Toronto, in 1855, to make banjos, melodeons, and mandolins, as well as to sell pianos and organs.

At the time of the Boer War RS Williams claimed to be the largest musical instrument maker in Canada, specializing in pianos and reed organs. Queen Victoria requested two Williams pianos for Windsor Castle.Some Williams organs are still used in large Canadian cathedrals. RS Williams & Son(s), the name used since 1880, continued to make mandolins, banjos, and melodeons, and developed a line of fine violins as well, and during World War I, bugles.

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c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000

The British Military Broad Arrow

The symbol of the broad arrow, or "mark,'" has been used to identify crown property since as early as the rule of Richard II (1367-1400).

The broad arrow has been utilized by the British military since at least the early to mid 1700s when it was used to mark timber, set aside by the government, for spars and masts for the British navy.

It was also put on web gear and brass items like oil bottles, and on bayonets and rifles. Two opposing broad arrows on a firearm denotes the rifle as being decommissioned for sale to civilian buyers.

Stamped on guns or "ordnance," since earliest times, the broad arrow doubled as a proof mark that the weapon had been successfully fired and was certified as such by the "Board of Ordnance." It could very well be that the term "broad arrow" was a corruption of the term the "Board's arrow." The symbol was retired sometime after the Korean War.

The Canadian version above right, uses a broad arrow within an enclosing C..

The Victorian bugle, used by the British Army around the world, and aboard war ships, was adopted during the Crimean War as the M1855 Duty Bugle. The design, size, and weight were formally established. The new standard was based on an earlier bugle used since 1810, and has not varied in over 150 years.

Left is the famous Balaklava bugle used by Trumpeter Billy Brittain to blow the "charge" of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War in 1854. Or did he?

Bugles can play only 8 notes, only 7 of which are usable, which is more than enough since all bugle calls use only 5 notes.

Most bugles are tuned in Bb, though some older ones exist in C and Eb. Music notation for the bugle is written in C.

The M1855 Duty Bugle was made to be compact, for use in the field. It was designed to be "double twist," 11" long, with a 4" bell.

For barrack use, a longer camp bugle was used, that was more fragile, but easier to blow.

Beware of many fake "Gunga Din" copies that are light weight and made in Pakistan and India.

Bugles used by foreign armies were different from the British and Canadian models. Left, the Italian bugle used by Emin Pasha in Africa while Stanley chased him in the 1870s. Above right, a rare American Civil War presentation bugle, made by EG Wright, Boston and inscribed as presented by Col. Michael Shoemaker to the 13th Michigan Volunteer Regt., May 23, 1863.

For more about bugles use the Search Engine.

George Potter & Co.: George Potter, Henry's son, established at Aldershot and produced his own line of bugles right. It has unique positioning of the sling rings
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

This bugle, with its very worn infantry cords, may very well have accompanied the British Army on Lord Kitchener's Sudan Campaign, up the Nile, in 1898.





Sudan Campaign Era Bugle, 1895, Henry Potter & Co.

Orig bugle - Size - 11.5"
Found - London, UK
Signed Henry Potter, London, 1895


Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Canadian militia bugles like this one are rare to find. The 3rd Battalion, Victoria Rifles of Canada was established in 1879. This bugle can date from that time on. It is an inch shorter than most M1855 duty bugles.


F Besson: Gustave Auguste Besson (1820-1874) was an acoustical genius who started his brass instrument making company in Paris, France, in 1837, when at the age of 18 he invented a cornet that was universally recognized as superseding all similar instruments of the past. He joined a lawsuit to break the monopoly of a supplier of military instruments to the British Government. In 1840 Besson opened a branch in London, and in 1858 a factory. By 1910 Besson claimed to have the largest workforce of any British maker of musical instruments. It was bought by Boosey & Hawkes in 1948 and remains in business today.

Victoria Rifles of Canada Bugle, c 1890, F Besson
Orig bugle - Size - 27 cm
Found - Montreal, PQ
Signed F Besson, London, 3 VRC No 11
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Mayers and Harrison were bugle manufacturers in the early 20th century, in Manchester, UK.

This has the King's broad arrow denoting this was a military bugle, probably used during World War I.

Military Bugle, c 1914-18, Mayers & Harrison
Orig bugle - Size - 29 cm
Found - Aberfoyle, ON
Signed Mayers & Harrison, Manchester








































Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Boer War Bugle of Edward McCormick, 1901
Orig bugle - Size - 11.5"
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed C Mahillon & Co., 1901
This bugle was found as an anonymous "cast-off" on ebay from a seller who had found it at a low end Toronto auction.

Edward McCormick's Bugle - Bugles 2

C. Mahillon & Co. was a Belgian manufacturer of musical instruments, founded in Brussels (1836-43) by Charles Mahillon, and joined in 1865 by son Victor Mahillon (1841-1924) a renowned musical scholar.

The bugle is signed C. Mahillon & Co, 1901, as well as with the military broad arrow.

Mahilllon supplied the Canadian Contingents with bugles.

Edward McCormick served two terms in the Boer War, as a bugler in South Africa, and used this Mahillon bugle there in 1902, as a member of the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles.

He blew the Last Post with it when they buried the Canadians after the Battle of Boschbult Farm, on Mar. 31, 1902.

As a memorial of the campaign, he inscribed it with two words on the bell collar:

Magelisburg (sic), for the district, west of Pretoria, through which his unit chased the Boer Commando of Commandant de la Rey, and President Steyn. And Brackspruit, the name of the stream on which the Battle of Boschbult Farm was fought.

Go to Edward McCormick

The original tombstone at the battlefield and gravesite, with the tents of the occupying army still in the background.


Dr. Leonard Molloy's Presentation Bugle 1901

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Boer War Presentation Bugle of Dr. L. Molloy, 1901
Orig bugle - Size - 11.5"
Found - London, UK
Signed Army & Navy CSL, 105 Victoria Street London, SW, Presentation Inscribed
The bugle was found in an estate sale in London, UK.

The Army & Navy Co-operative Society Ltd. had been formed in 1871 by a group of army and navy officers to provide goods for low prices to its members.

By 1900 it had an enormous catalogue including bugles and guns. It lasted till 1973 when it was taken over by the House of Fraser.

Leonard Greenham Star Molloy (1861-1937) was a surgeon and Unionist Member of Parliament for Blackpool, England.

He presented this bugle, during the Boer War, to a St. John Ambulance Unit in Blackpool, England. It is inscribed:

FEB 1901

Years of polishing have made the inscription hard to photograph. Dr. Molloy obviously wished to thank local volunteers for the bandages and medicine they had raised for the troops in South Africa.

The bugle also had a Boer War St. John Ambulance bandage stuffed deep into the bell. Probably the doctor acquired this bugle directly from a unit that fought in South Africa because both would have wanted to express their gratitude by presenting the home volunteers with a genuine war bugle that had seen action where their medical supplies had been put to use.




John Baker's Bugle 1901

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Boer War Bugle of John & Norman Baker, c 1901
Orig bugle - Size - 11.5"
Found - Cookstown, ON
Signed Boosey & Co., London, 1901
This bugle came directly from the family descendants of John Baker.

John Baker was active in the Canadian Militia just after the Boer War when he came into possession of the Boosey bugle left.

He was a member of the 36th Bn Peel Militia for three years, around 1910, when he was painted in pastel wearing the unit's "reds."

The bugle is signed as made by Boosey & Co. in London, in 1901. Because it was an estate item in the Baker family, when John's uniform and picture were sold, this bugle could have been used in South Africa and acquired by John as a souvenir from a militia member.

Sadly, John was killed in 1917 in France, and the bugle passed on to his surviving brothers.

It retains its original infantry cords, and two mouth pieces. It was blown on ceremonial occasions by Baker family veterans.

Go to John Baker

Boosey & Co: To help date Boosey signed bugles remember that Thomas Boosey started making bugles in London, England, during the Crimean War, operating as Boosey & Son, 1854-64, and Boosey & Co., 1864-1930.

By 1894, the company had a workforce of 100. It became Boosey & Hawkes after 1930.


Norman Pearson's Bugle 1916

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
World War I Bugle of Norman Pearson, 1916
Orig bugle - Size - 11.5"
Found - Asheville, NC
Signed Henry Potter 1916 , copper & brass with original patina, bugle cords, and dog tags, to Norman Pearson 67th Battery CFA
The bugle was acquired directly from the Pearson family.
Norman Pearson joined the 67th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery and was provided this bugle when the unit was sent to occupy the northern Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel in June 1918. They were trying to restore "order" after the Russian Revolution.

It was World War I and the Bolsheviks had overthrown the government that had been supporting the Allies, and captured the Royal Family; a month later they would all be killed.

This bugle has the original cords and dog tags that Norm used while in Russia.

Go to Norman Pearson

Henry Potter & Co: Samuel Potter (1772-1838) had retired from the Coldstream Guards after the Napoleonic Wars were over and started making fifes, drums, and bugles in 1817.

His son Henry Potter (1810-1876) was well established in the firm by 1841. Many Victorian bugles were made by this firm. The company was active till 1950.

A son founded his own company George Potter & Co. at Aldershot, where the British Army had a huge military complex