Military History

Under an old Militia Law which held that every able-bodied man was liable for military duties, Paisley had organized a body with John Valentine in command. They mustered for parade on May 24 every year. In 1865 a Company of the regular militia was organized, known as No. 4 Co. of the 32nd Battalion.

In 1866 when the Fenians (an organization of Irish-Americans determined to establish an independent government in America) threatened Ontario, this Company was dispatched, by way of Southampton, to Goderich where the attack was expected. These men were billeted in homes in Goderich as there were no camps. About a month was spent under arms before the threat of invasion subsided.

In 1870 when the insurgents of Riel held Fort Gary (Winnipeg), the Government called for volunteers. From N0 4 Company’ four were allowed to volunteer. In 1885, with the outbreak of the Northwest Rebellion, an order came from Ottawa for the 32nd to get under arms. (It was the only rural battalion to receive such orders). The Company proceeded by rail to Southampton. Here they were kept for a week, but in the meantime Riel had surrendered and the Government had no occasion to send any more troops to the West. “Terrible disappointment was felt when the troops had to return home”. Records include the names of Major Thomas Hay, Captain Ed. Eckel, and Chris Parker. The Paisley Advocate of 1890 states, “We must also mention Paisley’s girl cadets who are every week becoming more proficient in their drills, and who are at the same time acquiring graceful movements and building up healthy constitutions”.
For the South African (Boer) War, the only reference available (Norman Robertson’s History of the County of Bruce) informs us that a desire was felt among the young men of Bruce to go to the aid of the British Empire. About a score of these young fellows were found in the various corps in South Africa.

Some were wounded, but only one laid down his life - Gordon Cummings of Saugeen Township. No specific mention of Paisley is made in this conflict. During World War I, 15 local men sacrificed their lives in the cause of freedom. On May 24, 1922 the citizens unveiled and dedicated the fine granite memorial standing in Memorial Square, honouring the memory of the sons of Paisley who gave their lives.

THE 160th BATTALION (The material was supplied by Regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant Bernard Brown, local veteran of the Battalion). Lieutenant-Colonel Adam Weir who had commanded the 32nd Bruce Regiment was called on to mobilize the wartime unit. Companies were set up in various Bruce County centres. The “A” Company trained at Paisley in the Armoury ( Jas. Friar’s Shop). In less than three months the Battalion had been recruited beyond strength. The troops moved to Walkerton and later to London, Ontario for further training before going overseas.

In the summer of 1916 the Battalion, along with its mascot bear called “Teddy”, went overseas where its members admirably served on the battlefields of Europe until 1918 when it was broken up as a battalion. The 160th was the strongest Canadian battalion ever to go overseas. It published a magazine “Bruce in Khaki", and was made popular in song, “Here’s to the Boys of the 1-6-0”.

In World War II, 3 men from the village and 19 from adjacent townships gave their lives for the cause of freedom. On November 11, 1949 a bronze plaque at the front entrance of the War Memorial Community Centre was unveiled and dedicated to the memory of these men.

Canadian Legion - Paisley Branch


Submitted by Bernard Brown

On November 21, 1938 a meeting of ex-servicemen was held in the Paisley Council Chambers to discuss the formation of a Branch of the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League. A public meeting was held in the Town Hall on January 27, 1939, and the charter of the Paisley Branch was presented by Comrade Adams (chief clerk of the Ontario Provincial Command) who, in turn presented it to zone commander Rev. Allan Ferry, who, in turn, presented it to commander Dr. ].H. Grove after he had been installed as president of the Paisley Branch #295. Twenty-three names are on the charter.

The name of the legion has been changed to The Royal Canadian Legion.

In September 1939, a representative of the Ladies’ Auxiliary from Owen Sound visited the Paisley Branch to present and outline the work and organization to a number of ladies present. Mrs. R.W. McFarlane was named president.

The colours were paid for by the members donating one dollar each. During the Second World War the Branch raised money by holding euchres and dances. Enough money was raised to present $5.00 each to 142 men from this village and district who were in the Services. The help of the citizens of Paisley and the congregation of Knox United Church for the loan of tables and chairs was greatly appreciated. The Ladies’ Auxiliary was disbanded in April 1942.

Before the Community Centre was built, the Legion meetings were held in the Oddfellows Hall. At present the Legion headquarters are in the Community Centre building. In March 1959, the Ladies’ Auxiliary was formed again and since that time has been a great help to the Legion Branch #295.

World War I Memorial

World War II Memorial Plaque
At Community Centre

Owen Sound Pipe Band with Pipe Sargent Bill MacDonald sounding the lament
at the Cenotaph Rememberance Day 1961

Legion Ladies Ladies Auxiliary - Submitted by Mrs. Stuart Howe

The Ladies Auxiliary to Branch 295 of the Canadian Legion was organized on March 13th, 1959. There were 17 charter members initiated by L. Long, Past President of the Provincial Command assisted by M. Richardson President of the Provincial Command. The Auxiliary meets once a month, except in the summer months.

Original officers were as follows,
President - Mrs. R.W. McFarlane '                                     Present Officers are
1st Vice President - Mrs. Frank Pickard                            President - Mrs. Roy Spracklin
2nd Vice President - Mrs. Jas. Nelson lst                          Vice-President - Mrs. Agnes Stinson
Secretary - Mrs. Jas. Parker                                                Secretary - Mrs. Stuart Howe
Treasurer - Mrs. John Stout                                                Treasurer - Mrs. Gordon Becker

Legion Zone Rally Parade

The unvieling of the WWI Memorial, May 1923

To the memory of those who died since WWII
Dedication Service May 1969

"Farmettes" of World War I, from left Meryl Bell, Violet McMillan & Irene Magraw.

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An Historic Album of Paisley
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