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The men were paid off in Halifax with the government also providing them new winter clothes.A special train then carried the veterans westward, dropping off soldiers along the way. One man carried a little monkey on his shoulder while another had a parrot in a wooden box.Thirty-one Ottawa veterans arrived home at 2.45pm on Saturday, 3 November 1900. Wilfred Campbell, who lived in Ottawa, penned a poem to welcome them.Titled Return of the Troops, the first verse went: Canadian heroes hailing home, War-worn and tempest smitten, Who circled leagues of rolling foam, To hold the earth for Britain.Captain Rogers of Ottawa’s “D” Company brought home a Spitz dog from Cape Town.With the Idaho having stopped in St Helena on the way to Canada, another officer brought home sprigs of the willow trees that grew at Napoleon Bonaparte’s grave.It is said that Canada became a nation at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 during World War I when the Canadian Expeditionary Force took the German-held high ground amidst fierce fighting—an achievement that had eluded British and French forces in three years of fighting.
Thirty-one Canadian soldiers lost their lives in the battle, including two Ottawa men. Boer losses amounted 350 killed or wounded and 4,019 captured.The Boer War was a nasty colonial conflict that pitted Britain against two Boer (Afrikaans for farmer) republics called the South African Republic, also known as the Transvaal, and the Orange Free State. The first, in which the British got a drubbing, lasted from 1880 to 1881, while the second more famous one lasted from 1899 to 1902.The wars resulted from British imperial designs over southern Africa butting up against the desire by Boer settlers for their own independent, white republics.Australia and New Zealand sent troops to assist the Mother Country in its hour of need.In Canada, public opinion in English Canada was likewise strongly in favour of Britain and the uitlanders.
A crowd of 30,000 saw the volunteers off “to defend the honour of Britain.” Many Ottawa residents took a special train to Quebec City to see their boys off on the Sardinian for South Africa on 30 October 1899.