Panoramic image of the 15th Battalion taken just prior to departure from Valcartier camp September 1914
On August 10th, 1914, the government established the strength of the 1st Canadian Contingent for overseas service at 25,000. The Minister of Militia, Sam Hughes, scrapped the original Militia mobilization plan and made a general call for volunteers across Canada to assemble at Valcartier camp in Quebec. Land in a valley about 35 kilometers north of Quebec City had been expropriated from mainly English area farmers and a hastily built tent city had been constructed to accommodate what would eventually be 35,000 volunteers – the majority of whom came from existing Militia regiments.
The 48th Highlanders contingent of volunteers arrived in the rain on August 29th and shortly thereafter the process of attestation into the CEF began followed by the amalgamation of the various Militia contingents and other volunteers into formed battalions.
The 48th contingent was brought up to wartime battalion strength by the addition of large contingents from the 97th Regiment (Algonquin Rifles) and the 31st Grey Regiment as well as smaller groups from the 26th Stanstead Dragoons, 13th Scottish Light Dragoons and the 2nd Dragoons. On September 2nd it was designated the 15th Battalion (Provisional) of the 3rd Infantry Brigade.
Valcartier became the primary training base for the 1st Contingent and during the three weeks there the main activities were kit issue, rifle ranges, drill and basic field manoeuvres. The Contingent was inspected by The Duke of Connaught on September 6th and again on the 20th when he was joined by Sir Sam Hughes and Prime Minister Borden. On September 26th, the contingent’s battalions – including the 15th Battalion – departed Valcartier for Quebec City to join the fleet of transport ships that would take them across the Atlantic.
Prior to departure, a panoramic photograph was taken of the entire battalion assembled on the plain in front of the tent lines – four years later less than 100 of those men – “The Originals” – would still be with the battalion.