This article examines the role played by Canadians at the turn of the century in West Africa. Though not intended to draw sweeping conclusions about the influence of such operations on the Canadian army as a whole—such analysis must follow at a later time when more contextual evidence is available—it does rediscover a largely forgotten chapter in the origins and evolution of the army, as well as raise a number of questions that obviously deserve greater attention. Most important, perhaps, this article demonstrates that a new approach to the analysis of the pre–1914 Canadian army is required, one that focuses as much on the influence of those who left Canada for military service as those who remained within the ranks of the institution at home.

There is little question that the development of a better undersatnding of the pre–Great War Canadian Army is long overdue. Existing literature too often focuses solely on how the British army controlled and influenced a nascent Canadian militia. As this article reveals, not only are such analyses incomplete but they do not reverse the lens and examine how Canada and Canadians influenced the British army and its operations abroad during the same period. A more complete picture of the Canadian army evolution can only exist through such an examination, and this article touches on but one topic that brings new evidence for that reassessment.