The history of The Brockville Rifles can be traced back to 1796 when Lieutenant Colonel James Breckenridge founded the 1st Battalion Leeds Militia. That unit, and successors, notably The Brockville Infantry Company, took an active part in the defence of Upper Canada in the War of 1812, the rebellion of 1837 and deployments resulting from tension with the United States that stemmed from the Civil War. This tension contributed to Confederation in 1867 and led to a consolidation of six local independent companies, including The Brockville Infantry Company, to form the “41st Brockville Battalion of Rifles”, as part of the Upper Canada Militia. This occurred on the 6th of October 1866, the date now celebrated as our Regimental Birthday. Thus, the Regiment is nine months older than Canada. The 41st Battalion was immediately mobilized to meet the threat of Fenian Raids and a measure of its success is that no Fenian incursions occurred in the United Counties.
The Regiment was re-designated the “41st Regiment ‘Brockville Rifles’ ”on 8 May 1900. It provided volunteers to the Canadian Contingents during the South African War.
During the First World War the Regiment contributed many drafts and individuals to battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, including the 2nd Battalion (Eastern Ontario Battalion), the 21st Battalion (perpetuated by the Princess of Wales Own Regiment, in Kingston), the 38th Battalion and most notably the 156th Battalion (Leeds and Grenville Battalion) whose colours today hang in the Regimental Church, St Paul’s, on Pine Street. Brockville and Leeds and Grenville men were awarded every honour for bravery and merit in the British Empire, including the Victoria Cross won by Major Thain MacDowell at Vimy. The Great War Battle Honours “Amiens” and “Pursuit to Mons” are carried on our cap badge.
On 15 March 1920 the Regiment was re-designated “The Brockville Rifles”.
The Brockville Rifles was not immediately mobilized in 1939 and many Brocks volunteered for active service units in the First and Second Divisions. When the Third Division was formed in May of 1940, B Company of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, who fought with great distinction from the Normandy landings until the final defeat of Germany, was recruited exclusively from The Brockville Rifles. The Regiment was finally mobilized on 18 March 1942 as the 1st Battalion, The Brockville Rifles, part of the Eighth Division which served on both the east and west coasts of Canada. A 2nd, reserve, Battalion remained in Brockville. In 1943 another complete company was sent to the Rocky Mountain Rangers and they participated in the recapture from the Japanese of the Aleutian island of Kiska. In July 1944 the 1st Battalion was sent to Jamaica and garrisoned that island until 1946.
When the 1st Battalion returned a reorganization of the Militia resulted in a new role for the Regiment, that of Light Anti-Aircraft Artillery. This necessitated a change of Corps, and hat badge, to that of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery and on 1 April 1946 a change of title to “60th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment (Brockville Rifles), RCA”. On 1 September 1954 the Regiment was amalgamated with the 32nd Anti-Tank Battery, RCA, of Kingston, and re-titled “32nd Locating Battery (The Brockville Rifles), RCA”.
On 1 December 1959 the Regiment reverted to infantry and resumed the title of “The Brockville Rifles”. It is one of the few Regiments in Canada to carry the name of the community in its name. The Regiment perpetuates the 156th Battalion of the CEF and the 32nd Battery, CFA and maintains an Honorary Distinction with the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders.
Throughout the Cold War, and subsequently, The Brockville Rifles have provided individuals to serve with UN, NATO and other multi-national forces including Cyprus, the Sinai, the Golan, the Sahara, the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. In competitions the Regiment has won the Kitching Trophy for best infantry unit in Ontario, the Gzowski Trophy as most proficient infantry unit in Canada and, in 1996, won the competition for best infantry platoon in Ontario.