New Glasgow army cadet corps has rich 100-year history

Published on March 12, 2014
On Feb 18, 2013, His Honour Brigadier General The Honourable J.J. Grant, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, presented Cadet Master Warrant Officer Jennifer Wilcox of 219 New Glasgow Legion Army Cadets with a Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal at the Government House in Halifax. Grant was a cadet with the New Glasgow army cadets. CPL CHRIS RINGIUS - DND

The first New Glasgow Cadet Corps was organized in 1909. At this time, the Corps consisted of only high school boys, like Hugh MacPherson, who won the first prize as best shot in the Cadet Corps of the Dominion.

The Corps kept up activities for two years but then interest lagged and the Corps ceased for a time.

The cadet corps once again emerged and was formally formed on March 18, 1914, as the 78th Pictou Highlanders, with affiliation to the 78th Highland Regiment. At this time, 20 cadets signed on. In April of the same year, the name changed to 219 New Glasgow High School Cadet Battalion. The original uniforms were the same as those worn by the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.

About four months later, the Dominion of Canada would be plunged into the First World War. Few parts of the fledgling country, including Pictou County, would be affected by this first global conflict. During WWI, the New Glasgow army cadet corps strength averaged 120 cadets and maintained a 24-piece brass band. The first public appearance of the band was made at first Presbyterian Church Hall on Friday, April 13, 1917. On May 7, they paraded on the march through the main streets of New Glasgow playing “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “Maryland.”

“The success of the New Glasgow Cadet band has brought greater satisfaction to the people of the town than any other movement undertaken on behalf of the boys, who are to be the citizens of tomorrow,” read the 1918-19 New Glasgow cadet annual program. “It has won a place not only in the admiration of the citizens but in public service that could not be dispensed with.

Week after week, the band gathered loyally at the train depot in New Glasgow to welcome home the heroes, who had months before left New Glasgow to take part in the great world struggle. By special invitation, the New Glasgow Band travelled to Halifax to welcome the arrival from the war of the 85th Nova Scotia Highlanders. The band was rewarded a place in the parade to lead the 85th Battalion on its last march from the Common to a great banquet spread at the Armouries. This was the final gathering of the Regiment before its members separated to their respective homes.

The 78th Cadet Rifle Club was another important division of the 78th New Glasgow Corps. About this time, Colonel Thomas Cantley (who later became Senator) took a lively interest in the Corps. He offered several prizes and gave the boys Glengarries and Badges. While in Ottawa, Col. Cantley interviewed the Militia Dept and shortly afterward the Corps was equipped with 22 Ross Rifles. Col. Cantley also offered a bronze box, one of 50 made from a captured German gun, to the best all around shot.

The Dominion Cartridge Company was known to organize Rifle Clubs all over Canada and one was organized among the boys of the cadet corps with an enrolment of 59. A New Glasgow Cadet made the highest individual score in 1918, while the Corps also led in a number of medals. The New Glasgow Cadet Corps led all other teams in the Dominion Championship with a score of 2,729 out of a possible 2,800, or a team average of 97.4 per cent under the direction of Fraser MacDonald.

In 1924, Mr. L. M. Rhodenizer joined the high school teaching staff and took a keen interest in the cadet corps. The upkeep and efficiency of the corps is also credited to Rhodenizer as he became principal of the high school in the early 1930s.

The corps once again flourished under his direction and in 1936 the corps was judged the most efficient cadet unit in the Maritimes. This high standard was maintained until the outbreak of World War II and the subsequent enlistment of Lt.-Col. Rhodenizer.

From 1939 to 1945, the training was carried out by several well meaning but rather ill-trained instructors. In 1943, the corps was affiliated with 2nd Battalion Pictou Highlanders and was under the sponsorship of the Board of School Commissioners of New Glasgow.

After the war ended in May, Rhodenizer returned to his teaching duties in New Glasgow and immediately took control of cadet training once again. Improvement was at once noticed and in 1946, the corps was judged third in standing in Nova Scotia.

On June 21, 1955, the Pictou Highlanders and the Nova Scotia Highlanders were merged together to form the 1st Battalion Nova Scotia Highlanders (North), which is the affiliated unit of the corps today.

Despite being placed on probation in the 1980s due to the lack of cadets and instructors, the corps now boasts around 85 cadets ranging from 12 to 19 years of age. The corps is located at the New Glasgow Armouries, 10 Riverside Parkway, and meets every Wednesday night. For more information, contact Capt. Randy Royal at

*Special thanks to Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps 218 New Glasgow Legion for the historical information*

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