Canada’s Soldiers in South Africa

Tales from the Boer War, 1899-1902

by John Boileau

Stories of Canadian troops fighting a guerilla war with Dutch farmers on African soil.
In 1899 a thousand Canadian soldiers went to war--in South Africa.
They were fighting white farmers who defied the mighty British empire by setting up their own, independent state.
This South African or Boer War of 1899-1902 marked the first time Canadian troops went abroad to fight alongside Britain.
Like other conflicts, the Boer War was controversial in Canada. Sir Wilfrid Laurier's liberal government, reluctantly responded to sentiment in much of English Canada and eventually sent nearly 8,400 Canadians to serve in South Africa. More than 200 died there.
Canada's Soldiers in South Africa recounts fascinating stories about the experiences of young Canadians fighting in this little-known conflict.

About the Author

John Boileau

JOHN BOILEAU's interest in Canadian history has been instrumental in his writing career which began after his retirement from the Canadian army in 1999. During his 37-year career in the forces he served in Canada, Germany, the United States, Cyprus and the United Kingdom. He was Consulting Editor for A Century of Service: Canada's Armed Forces From the Boer War to East Timor, by Jim Lotz, published in 2000. His articles can be found in The Beaver, Legion Magazine, Saltscapes, the Halifax Sunday Herald and the Saint John Telegraph-Journal. John Boileau was awarded the Order of Nova Scotia in 2022. He and his wife, Miriam, live on the shores of St Margaret's Bay, NS.


"...this is a fine book for someone wanting a quick introduction to the martial history of Canada and its unique role as recognized by senior members of the British military."
Canadian Naval Review
"...captures the atmosphere of the veld and battlefield with the skill of a novelist."
Shirley de Kock Gueller, Cape Times (South Africa)
"...Boileau looks at everything from the national fervour that led to Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier's decision to send troops in the first place (initially on a converted cattle boat) to individual battles. Boileau also writes about the bravery of individual members of the force that brought Canada its first foreign battle honours and its first Victoria Cross..."
Ian Fairclough, The Nova Scotian

Subjects (BISAC)


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