Robert Collard, Plaque Ceremony

Robert Collard
1st Regiment Oxford Militia

Robert Collard was a farmer and Quaker.

He is listed in the Census of Norwich Township in 1851, 1861, 1871, and 1881.

In Land Registration Maps, 1857 it lists Robert Collard, Lot 11, Con. 6, South Half, and Lot 17, Con. 6. Census years 1842, 1845, 1848, 1850 and 1853.

Robert Collard, Plaque CeremonyHe was a private in the Oxford Militia during the War of 1812. He served as a blacksmith during the war.

In 1876, at the age of 80, he received a Government pension of $20.00 for his service.

In the Norwich Gazette of March 29, 1888 his obituary read:

“The death of a well known resident of North Norwich, at the advanced age of 93, occurred on Saturday last, at his residence in that township, and the sad event removes another old pioneer whose name is familiar to most of our readers. There are few old time residents of these parts who are unacquainted with the history of the deceased which was, in so many senses, identical with the history of the country itself. The greater part of his life was spent in the agricultural pursuit. Of the family, but one son, Cornellius, is still living. The funeral took place yesterday, the usual service being held at the Friend’s Meeting House.”

Also in the Woodstock Newspaper, Sentinel Review, the obituary appeared in the March 29 edition, page 2, column 1, 1888.

“Death has again taken an old and respected citizen from this part of our country in the person of Mr. Robert Collard who died earlier in the week.”

In the 1836 June edition of William Cromwell’s Day book — Robert Collard and his wife are mentioned.Robert Collard, Plaque Ceremony

Ceremony Speech Prepared by David Stock, November 25, 2016

ROBERT COLLARD – Private, 1st Regiment Oxford Militia

The Collard Family emigrated from England to New Brunswick, thence to the Conc 6 of the Township of North Norwich which is where young Robert grew up, farmed, married, raised his family and joined the Oxford Militia in order to resist the American invasion during the War of 1812-14.

Robert Collard, Plaque CeremonyWhen Robert Collard was 16 years old the Americans were making regular sorties into Oxford County. Robert would have known that American troops had caused havoc at Centreville (near present day Beachville) burning settler’s barns and homes. So Robert Collard joined the 1st Regiment Oxford Militia as recruit No. 624 and he then saw service in the Norfolk Corps of the Regiment as a private, a rifleman and a blacksmith. With a combination of local militia, some British Army regulars and Indian allies the American invasion was repelled and British North America was saved.

Following the war Robert went back to farming on Conc 6. In 1836 he married Catherine Gillett and they had two sons, Cornelius and John.

Robert Collard, Plaque CeremonyIn 1875 a Parliamentary vote was held authorizing the payment of $20.00 to each surviving veteran of the War of 1812. Thus it occurred that Robert Collard received his $20.00 gratuity in 1876 when he was 80 years of age. (2500 survivors received the gratuity).

On March 24, 1888 Robert Collard died at the age of 93. Robert and his wife Catherine are buried in the Walker Memorial Gardens Cemetery on Quaker Road in the Township of Norwich.

Robert Collard’s service to King and Country was formally recognized in 2016 when a War of 1812-14 Plaque was affixed to his tombstone at an impressive graveside service attended by family, friends, a number of dignitaries, members of the military and the Colour Party of Branch 190 of the Royal Canadian Legion (Norwich Branch).

The Significance of the War of 1812-1814

This month’s Legion magazine lists five battles that have shaped the Canada we enjoy today. One of those battles was the War of 1812. Think back to those days 200 years ago. The Americans had had their Revolution in 1776. In 1812 Britain was occupied in Europe, along with its Allies, in fighting Napoleon. Therefore, most British troops were in Europe.

So the Americans thought — What a great time to take over British North America! Wasn’t that a dastardly trick to play on their peaceful neighbour to the North? The Legion magazine points out that when the U.S. attacked Upper Canada (Ontario) there were only 1,600 British troops to resist the attack plus local militias plus Britain’s Indian Allies.

On the Western front the Americans crossed the Detroit River and got as far as Moravian Town.  There they were defeated by the Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh, who died in the Battle of the Thames.  But the American advance was stopped and the U.S. troops retreated back across the Detroit River.  So thanks to our Indian Allies for success on that front.

Robert Collard, Plaque CeremonyOn the Eastern front the Americans crossed the Niagara River in large numbers but here they were outwitted arid out fought by General Sir Isaac Brock who defeated the Americans at Queenston heights. He was supported by militias from York and other areas and by Indian Allies – and Brock lost his life in that battle.

In our own local area the Americans had been through Centreville (near Ingersoll) burning the farms and homes of our settlers.

The last skirmish with the Americans in our general area was at Oakland — about 25 miles east of here.

These events were not all that far from where Robert Collard had settled and carved out his home and hi farm.  He did the patriotic thing and joined the Oxford Militia. This was a time long before the days of motor transport. So as well as drills in the militia with respect to the use of a musket or rifle, Robert is recorded as being a blacksmith, a skill which kept our horsepower  operational.

Tom Collard has read to you the story of his great grandfather, Robert Collard.

Canada’s success in the War of 1812, two hundreds year ago, makes it possible for us to celebrate the Canada we take such pride in today.  Were it not for our success in the War of 1812-1814 we would not be here today singing O Canada and God Save the Queen.

I suggest that when we go back to the Norwich Legion Hall for refreshments that we should have many toasts to Queen and Country and to the Veterans of the War of 1812.

Veteran Summary

Robert Collard
Private, 1st Regiment Oxford Militia
Place of Birth
Unknown, New Brunswick, CAN
Place of Death
North Norwich, ON, CAN
Died on:
Reason: Old age
Location of Grave
Old Brick Cemetery, unknown
North Norwich, ON, CAN
Latitude: 43.00044N Longitude: -80.615178