TSRA History

The Regimental Association and the Regiment

Regimental Associations are an integral part of a Regimental family. In providing a forum for ‘preserving a spirit of comradeship’, associations are the glue that holds a diverse family together and they come in many forms. While the basic mission remains the same, the ways and means need to reflect the times, as one will see in the following history. 

The Toronto Scottish Regimental Association (TSRA) is the successor to a Regimental Association with an unusual claim to fame. The Toronto Scottish Regiment was raised by, and from, the 75th Battalion Association in 1921. We are proud to ‘Carry On’ the traditions of that unique Regimental family.    

The Toronto Scottish Regiment, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s Own, is now a Primary Reserve infantry regiment with companies in Etobicoke and Mississauga. The Association’s base is at the Etobicoke armoury. 

The Regiment proudly perpetuates the 75th and 84th Battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in WW1. On peacetime duty in Belgium in 1919, the 75th Battalion was due to be returned to Canada for disbandment. Yet the members of the battalion wished to remain comrades and perpetuate the infantry battalion within the Canadian Militia, and not revert to the fold of the 9th Mississauga Horse. They voted to form the 75th Battalion Association. The wartime Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Colin C. Harbottle, C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D. was elected President of the Association in 1919. The Association was an all-ranks one and accepted all family members of those who had served in France and Flanders.    

From this Association, and votes rejecting numerous proposals to combine with other regiments, the members fought for and won the right to form The Toronto Scottish Regiment to perpetuate the 75th Battalion. The new regiment was initially named The Mississauga Regiment in 1920 and subsequently renamed The Toronto Scottish Regiment on September 1, 1921. 

The 75th Battalion Association membership supplied the core of the original Militia battalion, and continued to support both social and military organizations. The 75th Battalion Women’s Auxiliary had been formed in 1916 to support the men overseas, and this Auxiliary continued its support into WW2.

The newly formed Regiment, of necessity, recruited new blood who were not 75th Battalion related. For the new recruits together with the war-time veterans, a 75th Toronto Scottish Canadian Legion Branch 332 was formed around 1928 with meetings held in regimental premises in Fort York Armoury. This Legion Branch supported veterans as well as the Regiment at least to 1960. A new women’s association, The Toronto Scottish Regiment Women’s Auxiliary was formed in October 1924 and eventually absorbed the 75th Auxiliary in 1943. The Ladies Auxiliaries contributed knitted goods, cigarettes and other comforts to the overseas troops.

During WW2, the Regiment mobilized a machine gun battalion for the 1st Division. Following a reorganization early in 1941, the battalion was reassigned to the 2nd Division and operated as a divisional Support Battalion for the remainder of the war. The 75th Battalion Association, Branch 332 Canadian Legion and the two Women’s Auxiliaries, many of whose members sons had enlisted into the battalion, continued support throughout the war. The Toronto Scottish Regiment Women’s Auxiliary stood down on February 1, 1946 and the bonds of friendship and comradeship passed to the new 75th Toronto Scottish Canadian Legion (Branch 332) Ladies Auxiliary. This association carried on at least until 1963.

In October 1945, the overseas Regiment returned, and the Tor Scots reverted to the light infantry role in the Canadian Militia. As a Divisional Support Battalion administratively during WW2, its companies were usually detached to the three brigades operationally producing a more company than battalion based social dynamic. In consequence, a fractured social structure reflecting different interests among companies and the two battalions, developed after WW2. The (Ex) Sergeants’ and Officers’ Associations are started in 1947 and 1948 respectively. To this basic structure were added at least two Company Associations and a Military Rifle Association, all raised in the late 1940s. There was not a lack of enthusiasm to get together, just selective. The previous all-ranks regimental association, the 75th Battalion Association, had given loyal support to the Regiment through the war, was now defunct, and needing a name change and new blood. The returning battalion now had their own stories to tell. Time had marched on.

The small groupings were unsustainable and most disappeared in the 1950s, leaving the Officers and Sergeants’ Associations with the Legion Branch.

With the reliance on a nuclear deterrence for National Defence in the 1950s and 1960s, the Regular Force and Militia shrank substantially in the 1960s. This reduced the flow of veterans into the Associations and triggered the collapse of some. This changed circumstance combined with the loss of key personnel in the Associations due to old age. A key figure in many of these Associations was former RSM Edward “Teddy” Baker, M.M. & bar, Belgian Croix de Guerre, who had joined the Regiment in 1915 and ended his long service to the Regiment and the many Associations in 1963. The RCL Branch 332 probably collapsed in 1964 triggered by his retirement, the passing of so many WW1 veterans, and the move by many WW2 veterans to the suburbs.

The shortcomings of the multiple, specific associations and the need for consolidation and a revitalized all-ranks Association post WW2 was recognized by the early 1950s.

After a couple of abortive attempts in 1954 and 1957, the Toronto Scottish Regimental Association was finally organized in 1967 by former RSM “Jack” Bateman CD, who holds Membership number 1 in the TSRA. The Regimental family owes a deep debt of gratitude to the hard work of ”Jack” Bateman in providing the glue to this consolidation. The TSRA role is outlined elsewhere on this website and is very similar to that of the all-ranks 75th Battalion Association constitution.

The WW2 veteran membership in the TSRA of 1967 is now rapidly declining and has been replaced by mostly post-Korean War and peacekeeping mission veterans and their families. A new cohort of veterans with overseas service exists with their own views on how and where to obtain friendship and comradeship.

The Tor Scots have contributed personnel to many Canadian Forces operations both home and abroad since 2000. The Regiment contributed an aggregate of more than 20% of its authorized strength to the various Task Forces which served in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2014. Yet few have joined the Regimental Association preferring social media to provide comradeship. Time has marched on.

In 2018, the Regiment was again tasked with providing heavy machine gun support within the infantry. The circle of life and history of both Regiment and Regimental Association turns again. Another generational change is at hand, the Regimental Association needs your help to modernize its activities and relevance; in some form, it won’t go away.     

Help us to CARRY ON.