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The Other Teddy

1910-1920 – Teddy the Bear with Sgt Francis James Dee at Cavalry Barracks. St. John’s, QC. This photo was likely taken during Autumn as Teddy is being sociable and no snow is present. During the Great War, then-Squadron Sergeant-Major Dee would become the Regimental Sergeant-Major of the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles, the 1st Infantry Works Battalion and the Canadian Reserve Cavalry Regiment.

Many who are familiar with The Royal Canadian Dragoons know of Teddy the Grey, our last serving troop horse who served with the regiment during the Great War and through the inter-war years until the dismount in August 1940. But few know that there was another Teddy: Teddy the Bear.

In a letter written in 1967, Mr D, Tinegate wrote a letter telling the regiment about his life as a child at cavalry barracks and the first, lesser-known Teddy:

“I was born in (Cavalry) Barracks March 1909.  At one time we had quarters over the billiard room. One of my earliest memories is of waking in the night and calling for a drink of water. This I did more than once and I can remember my Mother being quite cross the second or third time. However, I suppose she became more fully awake and then smelt smoke. The downstairs was on fire, including part of our stairs. I can remember being carried down them by my father. It was January, I think. I believe it was thought lucky that I gave the alarm, so to speak, as there were other families living there.”

“My father was a teetotaller because he disliked the taste and smell of any kind of alcohol. I believe that at a Regimental Dinner of some kind a great silver teapot on a silver tray was brought in, to the accompaniment of a fanfare of trumpets, and placed before him. He made a point of drinking all of it!”

“I can also remember being discovered giving my father’s (full dress) helmet a good going over with the stuff used for making doorsteps white. And just before a parade too! I was very popular.”

“When we were living in the quarters over the billiard room my Mother found the Regiment’s bear, Teddy, in the bath licking the drips from a tap. She fetched a broom and shoo’d him out of it and down the stairs. My Father was very amused at her doing this as the bear was pretty-well grown at that time and Mother was a very small woman.”

“Father said that when Teddy stood on his hind legs he was tall enough to take gently a piece of sugar from between a tall man’s lips, with his muzzle.”

1910-1920 – The mascot “Teddy” on C(anadian) D(ragoons) Military Camp, Farnham, Que.

“When Teddy heard a train coming into St John’s station, he used to literally gallop up to the top of the pole, to which he was chained, to view it. I can remember this. He went up at a tremendous speed for such bulk.”

1910-1920 – Teddy the Bear on his beloved pole, Cavalry Barracks, St Johns, QC. “When Teddy heard a train coming into St John’s station, he used to literally gallop up to the top of the pole, to which he was chained, to view it. I can remember this. He went up at a tremendous speed for such bulk.” – Mr D. Tinegate.

“Teddy had a concrete ‘bath’ sunk into the ground. This had a narrow edge to it. The water was usually rather dirty and greasy as it only needed one of Teddy’s dips with his greasy thick coat to make it so. I have heard my Father say that when Teddy had an audience he used to take pleasure in walking very delicately round and round on this rim and then plunging suddenly into the water with a tremendous splash. Onlookers would be drenched and sometimes there were ladies in pretty dresses.”

“Teddy loved the large ‘finished-with’ treacle jars which used to be brought out from the cookhouse for him to lick. When he could not reach the bottom of the jar he would crash it down on the stone, breaking it, and then lick each piece.”

“He would allow the various dogs in the barracks to tease and play with him. However when he had had enough he would give them a couple of firm swipes. They knew then that it was wise to go.”

“During the winter he used to hibernate in a barrel in the ramparts. He was not very good tempered when he emerged.”

“I can’t remember the details of this but I think he got his chain wound up and had been unable to reach water or food for some long time. There was also something unusual in the barrack routine at that time. However he was in such a bad mood that it was a problem how to risk approaching him to help him. I think it was hot weather. I forget what was done.”

1910-1920 – R.I.P. Teddy – Hero of the Camp – Teddy the Bear’s Final Resting Place, Camp Farnham, QC. Five RCD recruits (note the lack of cap and collar badges) with the grave of the A Squadron mascot Teddy.

“I can remember Teddy turning up, trailing a length of chain, at a garden party given by Major and Mrs Van Straubenzie.”