The Halifax Provisional Battalion was a military unit from Nova Scotia, which was sent to fight in the North-West Rebellion in 1885. The battalion was under command of Lieutenant-Colonel James J. Bremner and consisted of 350 soldiers made up three companies from the Princess Louise Fusiliers, three companies of the 63rd Halifax Rifles (formerly the Halifax Volunteer Battalion), and two companies of the 1st “Halifax” Brigade of Garrison Artillery, with 32 officers. The battalion left Halifax under orders for the North-West on Saturday, 11 April 1885 and they stayed for almost three months.
The battalion was assigned garrison duty along the CPR main line that stretched across the prairies. After a short stay in Winnipeg, the battalion was broken into four components and sent to Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Saskatchewan Landing and Medicine Hat. Soldiers had to remain on high alert because of possible raids on their positions.
Prior to Nova Scotia’s involvement in the Rebellion, “Canada’s first war”, the province remained hostile to Canada in the aftermath of how the colony was forced into Canada. The celebration that followed the Halifax Provisional Battalion’s return by train across the county ignited a national patriotism in Nova Scotia. Prime Minister Robert Borden, stated that “up to this time Nova Scotia hardly regarded itself as included in the Canadian Confederation… The rebellion evoked a new spirit… The Riel Rebellion did more to unite Nova Scotia with the rest of Canada than any event that had occurred since Confederation.” Similarly, in 1907 Governor General Earl Grey declared, “This Battalion… went out Nova Scotians, they returned Canadians.” The wrought iron gates at the Halifax Public Gardens were made in the battalion’s honour.