Inter-War Years

The years between World Wars One and Two were largely a time of reorganisation.  The first change came in 1920, when the 12thYork Rangers were renamed more simply “The York Rangers.”  Although eager to return to their families and civilian pursuits, many Toronto-area veterans remained fired by a strong desire to serve their country and remained active with the Regiment. At its church parade in March 1921, there were enough Rangers to form a brigade!  The CO, LCol A. Hunter, enthusiastically proposed to his superiors that his re-designated unit be organised into four battalions.  Ottawa met him half way and authorised a strength of two, with the 1stBattalion headquartered at the historic Aurora Armoury and the 2ndin Toronto.

Another important development came in 1925. With the return of traditional peacetime military austerity, the federal government announced that no militia regiments could have two battalions.  As a result, the 2ndBattalion was separated from the York Rangers and amalgamated with the relatively inactive West Toronto Regiment; the latter had only been recently raised to perpetuate the traditions of The Twentieth of First World War fame.

Based as it was in Toronto, it was only natural that the unit acknowledge its proud heritage. Thus on August 1, 1925, The Queen’s Rangers were reborn.  Two years later, King George V formally restored the full title originally granted by his predecessor in 1779, “The Queen’s Rangers, 1stAmerican Regiment.”  The monarch also authorised the Rangers to readopt their ancient badge, which soldiers still wear on their berets.

Like most units in the Canadian militia, the newly reconstituted Queen’s Rangers sought affiliations with the British Army. In 1928, King George granted alliances with two of his more distinguished units in England.  The first was with the Green Howards, formally known as Alexandra, Princess of Wales’ Own Yorkshire Regiment (recently amalgamated with the Yorkshire Regiment).  Originally raised in 1688 under William of Orange, the Green Howards have seen action in many of the British Empire’s campaigns worldwide, from Ceylon and the Crimea in the nineteenth century to South Africa, Gallipoli, France, North Africa and Malaya in the twentieth.  The Rangers’ ties with the regiment have also had some concrete advantages.  Thus LCol Michael Stevenson, the Ranger CO from 1972 to 1976, was a former officer of the Green Howards.

The King also bestowed an affiliation with the Queen’s Regiment, the second oldest unit in the British Army.  Named after the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza, who King Charles II took as his consort, the Queens’ had been formed in 1661. Its march, “Braganza,” was also adopted by the Rangers, as was its motto, “Pristinae Virtutis Memor” (Remembering Their Gallantry in Former Days).  

Closer to home, the Rangers established a third affiliation in 1980 with the 8thCanadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s), then a regular army unit in the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.  The two regiments share some common roots, since the latter’s first commander had been the grandson of a captain in charge of a Queen’s Ranger cavalry troop under Colonel Simcoe.

In 1936, as the result of further defence budget cuts, the Aurora-based York Rangers were amalgamated with The Queen’s Rangers to form today’s The Queen’s York Rangers.  Although the combination took on the venerable traditions of the unit originally founded in 1756, it also added the sub-heading “The York County Regiment” as a reminder of its York Militia ancestry.  Fort York Armouries, completed only a year earlier near the Rangers’ former Upper Canada base, were fittingly designated the new home.

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