A duty nobly done - HEIRS hears history of Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment

Lt.-Col. Hardy Wheeler was the featured guest at the Harrow Community Centre last Thursday evening. The retired officer, formerly of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment detailed the history of the prestigious unit to a small crowd of local history buffs.

by Kyle Reid

In an effort to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War Armistice, the Essex Municipal Heritage Society, in partnership with the Harrow Early Immigrant Research Society (HEIRS), hosted a public meeting at the Harrow Community Centre recently. Retired Lt.-Col. Hardy Wheeler provided a briefing of the history of the prestigious Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment.

  Wheeler, a former Commanding Officer of the regiment, spoke to the notable achievements of the historical unit, dating from the 1830s to the present day.

   With a history dating back as far as 1749, the Essex and Kent Scottish was one of the first militia organizations in Ontario, and the first to engage in combat outside of Canada.

  Wheeler, who worked as an editor for the detailed history of the regiment, titled “Duty Nobly Done,” outlined the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment’s contributions to major wars and conflicts, including the Patriot War of 1838, World War I, and World War II, as well as more recent regimental deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

  “[It’s] about remembering and acknowledging the service and soldiers in the Canadian [Armed Forces],” Wheeler said when asked why it was important to document and speak to the achievements of the historical regiment.

John Woodbridge plays ‘Highland Laddie,’ the traditional march past for the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment before Lt.-Col. Hardy Wheeler’s presentation on the regiment’s history.

  Wheeler, who has been documenting and speaking about the history of the Essex and Kent Scottish for some 25 years, said his presentation offers residents and local history buffs an opportunity to appreciate the important role the regiment has played in conflicts around the world, including up to the present day.

  “There’s 51 members of the Essex and Kent Scottish, who are all part-time soldiers, who volunteered for a year, of which [for] six months they go overseas,” Wheeler said. “They’ve done that for 40 some-odd years.”

  For Wheeler, that includes celebrating the connection to the local community where the regiment was first formed.

  “It’s in the blood I guess, when you’re a soldier; you want to get the experiences of doing something worthwhile,” Wheeler said. “It’s service to the community and service is my thing.”