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The Royal Canadian Regiment had fulfilled it's role in South Africa but a growing appreciation for mounted troops in the vast empty landscape had encouraged Canada to recruit mainly mounted troops for the second wave of troops to be despatched for the war. The Boers had used hit and run tactics effectively using their fast moving mounted advantage to maximum effect. The Canadian and British also wanted some mounted troops to be used as scouts to determine where the Boers were and where their movements  took the

Canada decided to form two Battalions of mounted troops to fulfill the require role and they would be designated the 1st, and 2nd Battalions, Canadian Mounted Rifles. The 1st Battalion was to be under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Francois Lessard and the 2nd Battalion was to be commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Lawrence Herchmer. The second Battalion was to be mainly recruited from western Canada and preferably from cowboys, ranchers, and others who were used to horse mounted work and familiar with weapons. A three battery contingent known as the Royal Canadian Field Artillery was also to be recruited from men in eastern Canada.

An even more coulourful group were formed under the benevolent donation of Donald Smith or Lord Strathcona. He had been intimately involved in the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway and had profited handsomely form that and many other business venture over the years. He felt it his duty to step up when troops were needed and as Canadian High Commissioner to Britain he was well aware of the need and desire for additional Canadian troops. He authorized a regiment strength of 537 troops including officers and choose a Canadian folk hero to lead them, Sam Steele. As with the 2nd Battalion, Lord Strathcona's Horse would be formed from experienced and tough cowboys, adventures and experienced outdoorsmen mainly from western Canada. Volunteers flooded to join the Regiment with 4 times the number needed stepping up to fill the ranks. The Regiment was issues western style saddles, Lee-Enfield rifles, revolvers, lassoes and wore cowboy style hats rather then helmets. They were started on their training almost immediately and agreed to a six month tour of duty in South Africa with a potential extension to one year.

By 1900 the mounted troops were ready to start departing and on January 21st the 1st Battalion sailed from Halifax and they were quickly followed by the 2nd Battalion on January 27th with the last of the Royal Canadian Rifles sailing in February. When they arrived in South Africa the 1st Battalion was renamed the Royal Canadian Dragoons while the second Battalion was redesigned as the 1st Battalion.

The Strathcona departed Halifax on March 17th aboard the S.S. Monterey with 28 officers and 528 men and arrived in South Africa in mid-April. Many of the 600 horses on the ship did not make it to South Africa and were replaced once the regiment was ashore in South Africa.



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Reference: www.canadahistory.com/sections/war/war.html