|The Canadian Encampment|
The Canadian Encampment
by George Kane
In 1899, the Department of Vermont, G.A.R. held its 32nd Department Encampment at Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada. This was the first and only time in the history of the G.A.R. that an encampment was not held on U.S. soil. At the 1898 Vermont Department Encampment, the post commander of General Hancock Post 105 of Montreal (and the Dept. of Vt.) ( of which Henri-Césaire was a member) presented the Department with a letter from the Mayor of Montreal. (The Mayor of Montreal from February 1898 to February 1902, and so the one who signed that letter, was Raymond Préfontaine. He was, just like Henri-Césaire, an uncle of Joseph Bélanger.) The letter was an invitation to the Department to hold its next encampment in Montreal, as guests of the city, the Imperial Army and Navy Veterans' Association, and Post 105. In a historic vote, Montreal was selected as the next encampment site.
A special "Encampment Train" was provided by the Canadian Trunk Railroad. The train running south to North picked up delegates and other attendees along the line. The Woman's Relief Corp also held their convention in Montreal; their delegates also boarded this train. Other attendees who boarded the train included a group of the governor of Vermont's staff, the governor's wife, the US Pension Agent for Vermont & New Hampshire, various politicians and 2 bands, who entertained during the trip.
An informal reception was held on the evening of June 20th at the Windsor Hotel, sponsored by members of Hancock corps, W.R.C. On the 21st the delegates held their business sessions during the day, electing F. G. Butterfield, Department Commander. At night, a public demonstration took place in Windsor Hall with music by the 27-piece Lyndonville (Vt.) Military Band and speeches by a number of dignitaries. The next day, a rather bizarre incident took place during the veterans' parade through the streets of Montreal. Another parade, in honor of St. Jean de Baptiste, met the veterans at an intersection. Neither parade yielded to the other, and participants had to filter through each other's ranks. (This last remark is incorrect: the veteran's parade was part of the St Jean Baptiste parade as is mentionned in La Patrie's article of Friday, 23rd June 1899, page 5, reproduced HERE.)