In 1899, the Second Boer War, between the British Empire and the Boers, descendants of Dutch immigrants to the Transvaal (modern-day South Africa), broke out. The First Boer War had taken place in 1880-1881, when the Boers rebelled against British rule. With the call from the Empire to its colonies for assistance, Canada deployed troops overseas for the first time and, over the next three years, over 7,000 Canadian volunteers embarked for South Africa.
Canadian troops saw action at the Battle of Paardeberg (February 18-27, 1900), which resulted in the first significant British victory of the war, as well as Israel’s Poort (April 25, 1900), Zand River (May 10, 1900), the Relief of Mafeking (May 17, 1900), Leliefontein (November 17, 1900) in which three Canadians earned the Victoria Cross, Harts River (March 31, 1902) among many key battles.
With the defeat of the Boers in 1902, the republics were converted into British colonies, with the promise of limited self-government, and later formed part of the Union of South Africa.
Researched and written by John Milner.