Skip to content

The Career Private

May 24, 2017

by Capt. Richard JS Law

From time to time Regimental museums hold artifacts that are sometimes overlooked, perhaps sitting in a dusty cabinets, or drawer and forgotten to the annals of history. These medals, held by The Brockville Rifles Regimental museum, tell an interesting tale; a tale of a painter by trade who sought military adventures around the globe. From left to right they are the Canada General Service Medal (1866-1870) with Fenian Raid 1870 clasp, the Queen’s South Africa Medal with Cape Colony clasp, the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal, and the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal – each one is named to T. Glazier with various Regimental numbers and Regimental affiliations. On its own this grouping would indicate at a minimum 45 years of service and conflict on three continents. Perhaps even more impressive is that throughout the span of this time, this humble man remained at the rank of Private.


Private Glazier’s medals, now in the collection of The Brockville Rifles museum

Brockville native Torrence (also found as Torrance and Torence) Glazier fought during the Fenian Raids as a member of the 42nd Battalion of Infantry, a Brockville based Line Infantry unit formed on 5 October 1866, simultaneously to the 41st Battalion of Rifles. Evidence supports that he also participated in the Red River Rebellion as a member of the Provisional Battalion of Infantry despite not being awarded the Red River clasp[1]. For his service at Red River the Government provided him with a land grant which he transferred shortly after.[2] Later, he traveled to New Orleans on his own means to sail to South Africa where he joined the Scott’s Railway Guards (regimental number 351) with whom he served in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1901. This small unit consisted of roughly 500 all ranks under the command of Lieutenant Colonel R.G. Scott, VC, DSO and was a South African Colonial Corps tasked with defending railways which were under threat of the Boers.

There are also allegations, according to the third issue of The Legionary magazine from 15 June 1926 that Glazier had fought in the American Civil War; however no further evidence supports this claim. He allegedly attempted to join the Japanese in fighting the Russians during the Russo-Japanese war in 1907 when he traveled to the Pacific, again of his own means, but was unsuccessful in joining their forces. He received his Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal as a member of the 41st Regiment (Brockville Rifles) in 1921.[3]

Twice, in 1914, Glazier attempted to join the 21st Battalion (Eastern Ontario) Canadian Expeditionary Force, but was rejected.[4] He attested with the 92nd Battalion (48th Highlanders) Canadian Expeditionary Force in Toronto on 13 August 1915 being assigned Regimental number 194971, but was subsequently discharged being found unfit for duty on 2 September 1915 due to “overage”.[5] On his attestation he divulges his military experience with the Scott’s Railway Guards as a Private in the Anglo-Boer War but nothing is listed regarding the Fenian Raids of 1870, likely in effort to avoid being rejected due to his advanced age. Interesting to note, his attestation papers list his year of birth as 1871, despite the fact he was 71 years old at the time he joined the CEF.


Attestation papers clearly showing the notation “Discharged” Library & Archives Canada

In order to qualify for the 1914-1915 Star he would have had to be in continental Europe prior to 1916. He seems to have completed his wartime service as a Pioneer, Regimental number 125495, with the 11th Pioneer Battalion, Royal Engineers of the British Army whom he joined 24 October 1915 after traveling to the United Kingdom, once again by his own means. Within a week he of joining he was in France where he spent nearly two months in the trenches.[6] Upon being affected by rheumatism he was returned to England in January of 1916 where his age was revealed upon inspection by a Medical Officer at the Bagthorpe Military Hospital.


February 1916 account of Glaziers storied past and his challenges in joining the Colours.

Once again he was discharged due to his age, but undeterred he allegedly attempted to join the CEF upon his return to Canada. He died 25 March 1930 and is buried in the Oakland cemetery in Brockville, Ontario. His grave is marked by a humble head stone inscribed “Private Torrence Glazier RE CEF 25th March 1930.” No plaques or flowers surround it.


Glazier’s tombstone. He is buried in Oakland cemetery in Brockville

He is undoubtedly one of the more interesting characters of Canadian military history, and most likely, the oldest Canadian veteran to attest during the First World War which has seemingly been forgotten for years as a footnote of a proud Nation’s history. All told, he is confirmed to have fought in three separate wars, with three different Armies, on three continents.


[1] Red River Expeditionary Force 1870-1877: Appendix II

[2] LAC, RG15-D-II-9-a File no 3362, Private Torrance Glazier of the Provisional Battalion of Infantry, 1875-10-09

[3] General Order 21/233

[4] Clarke, Nic, Unwanted Warriors : Rejected Volunteers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, UBC Press, 2015.

[5] LAC, RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 3580-11, item 420432, GLAZIER, Torrence (125495)

[6] Patriotism of a Veteran Fighter Shames Slackers, The St Lawrence Republican, Ogdensburg NY, 16 February 1916

Captain Law, The Royal Canadian Regiment, is currently serving as the Regimental Adjutant to The Brockville Rifles

Rate this article by clicking on the stars below

From → Soldiers Lives

  1. G Paul Karcha permalink

    Obviously, someone who doesn’t mind a good scrap.

  2. Tom Karnas permalink

    Wonderful article, truly fascinating. Thanks for keeping this history alive!

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: