The Globe reported that 18,000 troops, all raised in and around Toronto, paraded through the city on March 1, 1916,and were reviewed as they passed the Legislature by General Sir Sam Hughes, the Minister of Militia, and General Logie. It took a good two hours for the five miles of soldiers to pass, and the reviewers and the crowds, reported to be in the tens of thousands, were thoroughly chilled. The temperature never got above freezing that day, and there was snow on the ground.
The reporter described a “fascinating spectacle”:
The pageant was too big for the kerbstone spectator to comprehend. The crowd is generally the most overwhelming part of a public function, but yesterday the crowd was outmatched and even dwarfed by the spectacle. To stand for nearly two hours and watch a moving column of soldiery five miles in extent is a hypnotic experience. Those who had a friend or relative in the ranks would scan the faces for one face: there were no two faces alike in that line of flesh which swayed like a pink ribbon above the heavy column of khaki moving rhythmically along.
The chief impression is one of fascinating monotony.
The 48th Battery, with five officers and 200 men, was the eleventh of 33 units in the parade according to Provost Marshall.
Hughes’s verdict? “Very fine! It couldn’t be finer!”
“Five Miles of Troops March through City,” The Globe (1844-1936). March 2, 1916. Archive available from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
The image is from John Boyd’s First World War Photographs in the City of Toronto Archives.