Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William Perrin (1846-1906)

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William Perrin
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Soldier, police officer.

Born at Dublin, Ireland on 22 November 1846, he enlisted at age 18 in the British Imperial Army at Dublin, joining the 1st Battalion, 60th King's Royal Rifles Corps, and training at Winchester and Dublin. Following training, his battalion embarked on 7 March 1866 from Kingstown, Ireland to Malta aboard troopship HMS Simoom, arriving on 16 March 1866. On 5 September 1867, his regiment boarded troopship HMS Himalaya at Malta arriving at Grosse Isle, Quebec on 1 October 1867.

After serving in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, in 1870 his 60th Rifles battalion was placed under the command of Col. Garnet Wolseley to form the main contingent of professional soldiers in the Red River Imperial Expeditionary Force from June until September. Arriving at Upper Fort Garry on 24 August 1870, after what Lord Wolseley later described as “the most arduous expedition in the history of the British Empire”, his unit departed within a few days for the return to Toronto, followed by service in Montreal and Quebec. His unit arrived at Halifax on 16 November 1871. Two years later, he was serving at Bedford, Nova Scotia and on 25 August 1874 he was discharged at Toronto after 10 years' service.

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William Perrin
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He then joined the Dominion Volunteer Militia at Toronto, serving in the Provisional Battalion of Infantry from 1875 to 1877 and the Winnipeg Infantry Company by 1878. In 1879, he was a member of the Guard of Honour at the opening of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly. He worked in the Militia Department of Stores at Fort Osborne until 1884.

Joining the North West Mounted Police Force on 22 January 1884, he served at Maple Creek, Medicine Hat, Swift Current and Regina as Constable and Corporal. He was promoted to Sergeant on 11 December 1886. He served in the 1885 North West Rebellion beginning at Fort Battleford and saw action on 2 May 1885 at the Battle of Cut Knife Hill. He was invalided due to illness, discharged from the Force on 30 June 1899 and moved his family back to Winnipeg, residing on Pritchard Avenue.

For his military and police service, he was awarded the Canada General Service Medal (Red River 1870) and the North West Canada 1885 Medal (Saskatchewan). Being invalided, he was granted a disability pension of $0.30 per day commencing on 1 July 1899. A petition to the Minister of Militia and Defence at Ottawa, Dr. F. W. Borden, dated on 18 March 1900, signed by Hugh John Macdonald, Herbert Swinford, Adam John Laing Peebles, and William Alfred Burman, and supported by Labour MP Arthur W. Puttee, requesting an increase in the pension to $0.50 per day due to financial hardship, was denied.

On 24 August 1900, the 30th anniversary of the Wolseley Expedition's arrival at Red River, the Manitoba Free Press published on page one his eyewitness account of the day. It was republished on the 65th anniversary.

In 1889, he married Sarah Lytle (1861-1950, daughter of John Shields Lytle and Elizabeth Marshall Lowry) at Regina, North West Territories and they had four children: John Draper Perrin, Marshall Richard Perrin, Kathleen Shields Perrin, and Helen Elizabeth Perrin.

He died at his Pritchard Avenue residence on 18 January 1906 and was buried in the St. John's Cathedral Cemetery.


William Perrin - #1322 1st Bn. 60th Rifles 1864-1874, British Military Service Records.

Nominal Roles and Paylist, Volunteer Militia, Dominion of Canada.

North West Mounted Police Personnel Records, 1873-1904.

Militia and Defence Correspondence, Dominion of Canada.

“Thirty years ago to-day - the bloodless capture of Fort Garry, August 24, 1870,” Manitoba Free Press, 24 August 1900, page 1.

Obituary, Manitoba Free Press, 19 January 1906, page 13.

“Fort Garry, held by Riel, “Captured” by Wolseley’s Army 65 years ago today,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 August 1935, pages 1, 4.

This page was prepared by John D. Perrin.

Page revised: 30 December 2020

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