Playing at the Toronto Maple Leafs home opener
Remembrance Day
Ortona, 10 December 1943


John Irvine Davidson

The 48th Highlanders of Canada was founded in 1891, when the Toronto Scottish community succeeded in their efforts to have a Highland regiment in their young city. The Regiment has remained a Militia (Reserve) infantry regiment located in downtown Toronto ever since. A tartan, The Old Davidson, and a falcon’s head for the regimental crest honour the first Commanding Officer, John Irvine Davidson. The original full dress Scarlet uniform is still worn today. Reserve soldiers train to the combat-ready status of the full-time soldier. At home they create a strong link with the local community. Today’s Highlanders reflect the diversity and youth of Toronto, just as they did in 1891. Colourful uniforms, pipers, honoured traditions and a proud record of achievement including 50 Battle Honours build a commitment that they call “Dileas”, from the Regimental motto, Dileas gu brath, Gaelic for “Faithful Forever.” 


South Africa

116 Highlanders volunteered to serve with the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment, then other units, earning the Regiment’s first battle honour.

First World War

The 15th Battalion (48th Highlanders of Canada) went overseas with the first Canadian contingent in October 1914 equipped in uniforms paid for by the Regiment. The 48th recruited three battalions, the 15th and two reinforcement battalions, 92nd and 134th. Facing the first gas attack of the war at the Second Battle of Ypres on 24 April 1915, the 48th were ordered to stand to the end. They did, losing 664 Highlanders, killed, wounded or prisoners of war. The 15th Battalion continued to the war’s end in battles including the Somme, Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge, earning 21 Battle Honours. 1,625 Highlanders were killed in action. 

Second World War

The 1st Battalion, 48th Highlanders went overseas in December 1939, again with the first Canadian contingent. Training in England was interrupted briefly in June 1940, two weeks after the Dunkerque evacuation, by a thrust 300 km deep into France. The Italian campaign began for the 48th at Pachino, Sicily on 10 July 1943. The 48th Highlanders then fought its way up the Italian peninsula, including the vicious battles to outflank Ortona and the unassisted breaching of the vaunted Hitler Line defences south of Rome, until transferred to fight in the liberation of Holland in 1945. The 48th were awarded 27 Battle Honours. 317 Highlanders were killed in action.


A Modern Reserve Regiment

In 1951 the 48th Highlanders raised companies for NATO in Germany with 27 Canadian Brigade, and for the UN in Korea with 25 Commonwealth Brigade. Highlanders have been on Canadian operations with NATO and the UN from Kosovo to the Golan Heights and from Sierra Leone to Phnom Penn. More recently Highlanders volunteered for Afghanistan, earning the Regiment its 50th Battle Honour. In Canada it plays an important civil role in disasters such as the Winnipeg flood and the 1998 ice storm, and the Pipes & Drums enthrall crowds across North America.

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