Crossing the pond
The years 1864 to 1867 were quiet ones and the 78th Highlanders spent their time in Dublin and Gibraltar. In July 1967, the same year confederation happened in Canada, the 78th was sent to postings in Montreal and Halifax.
From 1864 to 1867, the regiment spent quiet years in Dublin and Gibraltar. Having spent so much of its career in the sweltering climate of the Far East, the 78th embarked in July 1867 for service at two of the British army's coldest postings: Quebec and Nova Scotia. The regiment remained in Montreal with occasional excursions to Quebec City for almost two years. In 1869, the 78th was transferred to Halifax.
The 78th arrived in Halifax on the afternoon of May 14 aboard the troopship Crocodile. A total of 765 men disembarked in full dress uniform. In dark green kilts, red doublets and tall feather bonnets, the 78th made an immediate impression on Halifax as it marched into town from the dockyard, with the local newspapers of the day covering their arrival.
For two years, the regiment spent its time billeted at the Halifax Citadel and at Wellington Barracks. The latter is now known as Stadacona and is part of Canadian Forces Base Halifax. Each summer, men from the regiment camped at Bedford to practice musketry at the military range.
The officers and men of the 78th participated enthusiastically in the social life of the city. They joined the North British Society local Masonic order in large numbers and participated actively in the Highland Society of Nova Scotia. On their departure in 1871, a farewell ball complete with a musical tribute was composed in their honour. It was hosted by the famous brewmaster and then Grandmaster of the Mason Lodge of Nova Scotia, Alexander Keith.
On November 25, the regiment set sail for Ireland on board the troopship Orontes. With them went 17 young Nova Scotian women who had married members of the regiment.
"The Highlanders leave many warm friends behind them in Halifax. During their sojourn in this garrison they have on several occasions contributed to the amusement and recreation of the Haligonians and their departure will be regretted by all. They were a well behaved class of men and we wish them a bon voyage and a hearty reception on reaching their own Highland homes." Halifax Evening Reporter - November 24, 1871.
"In parting with the Highlanders, the citizens do so with regret, for since they have come amongst us, the officers and non-commissioned officers have formed a circle of acquaintances that will now feel their loss. The men also have conducted themselves in a manner so as to command the respect and esteem of the inhabitants." Acadian Recorder - November 24, 1871.