WATERLOO, Belgium – A number of communities in Canada can trace their names back to the decisive battle that took place here 195 years ago.
When the tumult and the shouting had died, an allied force of British, Belgian, Dutch and Prussian troops under the command of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, had defeated French forces led by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.
Even though the actual encounter took place several kilometres away from his encampment, Wellington traditionally named his successful campaigns after the community nearest his command centre.
Thus the small Belgian village of Waterloo would give its name to geographic and educational entities in various parts of the world, including Canada. In Ontario, a regional municipality, a city and a university all go by the name Waterloo. There is also a small hamlet with that name in Nova Scotia.
The Iron Duke, as the victorious allied commander came to be known, is remembered by such Ontario community designations as Arthur and Wellesley. An Ontario county and a village are called Wellington.
In addition, several Waterloo veterans played significant roles in Canada’s political affairs in the years leading up to Confederation. Their names are also woven into the Canadian mosaic.
Charles Lennox, Duke of Richmond, for instance, was appointed governor-general of British North America in 1818 and died of rabies the following year after being bitten by a rabid fox. He is buried in Holy Trinity Cathedral in Quebec City.
Lennox attended the Battle of Waterloo as an observer but was actually the general in charge of reserve troops in Brussels slated to defend the city as part of Wellington’s retreat strategy had Bonaparte been the victor that day. Lennox’s wife, Charlotte, was patroness of the ball held in Brussels on June 15, 1815, made famous in Lord Byron’s epic poem Field of Waterloo.
There is a Richmond and a Richmond Hill in Ontario as well as a Richmond in Prince Edward Island and Quebec. A borough of the city of Sherbrooke, Quebec goes by the name of Lennoxville, while Lavant Township in Ontario’s Renfrew County is a throwback to the Lavant River and Village of Lavant situated in England near Goodwood House, the county seat of the Dukes of Richmond.
The city of Richmond, British Columbia, however, is not directly connected to the former governor general. It is thought to have been named for a farm in the area that had been settled by homesteaders with ties to a community called Richmond in Australia.
The Duke of Richmond’s son-in-law, Major-General Sir Peregrine Maitland, commanded the 1st Infantry Brigade at Waterloo. He was appointed lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada in 1818, then lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia in 1828, serving in that capacity until 1834. Communities in Ontario and Nova Scotia go by the name of Maitland.
Colonel Sir John Colborne, who replaced Maitland as lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, commanded of the 1st Battalion, 52nd Light Infantry at Waterloo. Colborne’s troops helped repulse the elite French Imperial Guard. Colborne and the 52nd then formed part of the army of occupation of Paris until January 1816. Colborne’s term as lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada ended in 1836 and he served as acting governor-general of British North America from 1837 until replaced by Lord Durham in 1838.
Today, there are communities of Colborne and Port Colborne in Ontario.
Colborne’s successor as lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada in 1836, Sir Francis Bond Head, served with the Royal Engineers at Waterloo. In 1837, just before being replaced as lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada by the upwardly mobile Lord Durham, Bond Head put down a rebellion led by William Lyon Mackenzie. Two Ontario villages today bear his name.
Major-General Sir James Kempt had served as a brigade commander in British North America during War of 1812 and in the same capacity (8th Brigade, 5th Division) during the Battle of Waterloo. When Sir Thomas Picton was killed during the battle, Kempt took over command of Picton’s division. He was appointed governor-general of British North America in 1828 and returned to active duty with the British Army in 1830.
Communities of Kemptville in Ontario and Nova Scotia are named after him, as is the Kemptville campus at Ontario’s University of Guelph.
Sir George Ramsay, Earl of Dalhousie, served as a senior officer under the command of the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War in Spain and Portugal as well as at Waterloo. Ramsay held the post of lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia from 1816 to 1820, and governor general of British North America from 1820 to 1828.
Communities in Quebec and New Brunswick are named after him. There is a Port Dalhousie in Southern Ontario and in the eastern part of the province can be found the townships of Dalhousie and Ramsay. Nova Scotia boasts the community of West Dalhousie as well as Dalhousie University, founded by Ramsay during his tenure there as lieutenant governor.
Several other Waterloo veterans are commemorated geographically in Canada even though they spent no appreciable time in the country.
Henry Paget, Earl of Uxbridge, led the 7th Hussars during the battle and was second-in-command to Wellington. Ontario’s Uxbridge Township is named in his honour. General Paget lost a leg at Waterloo when he was struck by a cannonball. The leg is buried on the battlefield under a plaque recounting the incident.
Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton, killed during the battle, had the town of Picton, Ontario named for him.
Sir George Thomas Keppel served as a young officer at Waterloo. Later in life he was raised to the peerage in Great Britain as the Earl of Albemarle and finished his military career with the rank of general. It is believed Mount Albemarle in British Columbia was named after him, as was Keppel Township in Ontario.
Photo by Tom Douglas
This article was filed to The Canadian Press, Canada's national newswire service, and picked up by newspapers and the electronic media across Canada, in the U.S. and internationally.