Latest commemorative envelope marks ‘1 RCHA’ sesquicentennial

By Jesse Robitaille

Canada Post has honoured another regimental anniversary on its third and final commemorative envelope of the year.

The Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (RCHA) marks its sesquicentennial this year, and that milestone is mirrored on the envelope issued on Oct. 20.

With the 1871 establishment of the “A” and “B” Batteries, Canada saw the first full-time or regular elements of its post-Confederation army. It came after British and U.S. officials signed the Treaty of Washington, a general agreement settling various disputes, on May 8, 1871, and most British troops in Canada were withdrawn.

“The Canadian authorities finally resigned themselves to the situation,” according to a Canadian Military History Gateway post developed by the directorate of history and heritage at the Department of National Defence.

On Oct. 20, militia general order #24 authorized the formation of the “A” and “B” Batteries as garrison artillery and schools of gunnery at Fort Henry in Kingston, Ont., and the Québec Citadel in Québec, Qué.

“They were commanded by officers seconded from the British Army and manned by gunners attached from Active Militia batteries around a nucleus of instructors formerly of the Royal Artillery,” reads a statement from Canada Post. “Their formation marked a watershed in Canadian military history. Henceforth, Canada would bear responsibility for its defence commensurate with its new political autonomy.”

Today, the “A” and “B” Batteries exist as sub-units of 1st Regiment, RCHA, the senior regular unit in the Canadian army. Also known as “1 RCHA,” the unit has an operational history ranging from the North West Rebellion to the South African War, First World War, Second World War and the Korean War. It was also forward deployed in Germany as part of Canadian Forces Europe – the country’s Cold War-era military formation in Europe – for 25 years between 1967 and 1993, when the final Canadian troops withdrew from the continent. Currently, the regiment belongs to 3rd Canadian Division’s 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group.

The regiment forms part of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery (RCA), which comprises 25 units represented in 33 communities across Canada.

The RCHA envelope is Canada Post’s third commemorative envelope since 2019, when it issued three of them – all marking regimental anniversaries. While most of the regimental anniversaries are of national significance, they’re more specific than the subjects highlighted under the broad scope of the stamp program. Canada Post uses commemorative envelopes as a … for its stamp program.

“For regiments, there are over 300 regiments that split, and they have different anniversaries and were formed in different times or joined other ones,” Jim Phillips, Canada Post’s outgoing director of stamp services, told CSN this summer (“Commemorative envelopes through the years,” Vol. 46 #9).

Phillips, who’s set to retire on Nov. 12 after 34 years with Canada Post, added the regimental anniversaries – plus those of Canada’s iconic hospitals, libraries and other institutions with historical significance – are “just too much to commemorate” as part of the stamp program.

Earlier this year, Canada Post issued envelopes marking the centennial of the Concordia University of Edmonton and the 12e Régiment blindé du Canada, another regiment, in March and June, respectively.

Canada Post has issued about 180 commemorative envelopes since its first issue marking the Montréal Olympics in 1976.

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