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William Dillon Otter

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Allegiance  Canada
Service/branch  Canadian Army
Name  William Otter
Rank  General
Years of service  1866-1902

William Dillon Otter httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

Born  December 3, 1843 Corners (Clinton, Ontario), Canada West (1843-12-03)
Commands held  Chief of the General Staff
Battles/wars  Fenian Raids Battle of Ridgeway North-West Rebellion Battle of Cut Knife Second Boer War Battle of Paardeberg.
Awards  Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath Commander of the Royal Victorian Order Volunteer Decoration
Died  May 5, 1929, Toronto, Canada
Battles and wars  Battle of Ridgeway, North-West Rebellion, Battle of Cut Knife, Battle of Paardeberg
Similar People  Frederick Dobson Middleton, Big Bear, Leif Newry Fitzroy Crozier, Wandering Spirit, Gabriel Dumont

General Sir William Dillon Otter, (December 3, 1843 – May 6, 1929) was a professional Canadian soldier who became the first Canadian-born Chief of the General Staff, the head of the Canadian Militia.


William Dillon Otter William Dillon Otter Wikipedia

Military career

William Dillon Otter William D Otter Canadian army officer Britannicacom

Otter was born near The Corners, Canada West. His parents were Anna Louisa, née de la Hooke (1824–1907) and Alfred William Otter (1815–1866), both English immigrants who married in Ontario on 15 September 1842. He began his military career in the Non-Permanent Active Militia in Toronto in 1864. Captain William Otter was Adjutant of the Queen's Own Rifles of Toronto in 1866. He first saw combat with them at the Battle of Ridgeway during the Fenian Raids.

William Dillon Otter Biography OTTER Sir WILLIAM DILLON Volume XV 19211930

He joined the Permanent Force as an infantry officer when Canada established its own professional infantry unit in 1883. On May 2, 1885, he led a Canadian force of more than 300 in the Battle of Cut Knife against Poundmaker's Cree Indians. Otter's tactics were ineffective against the defending warriors, forcing him to retreat.

William Dillon Otter Memorabilia William Dillon Otter QOR 1880s

In 1890, Otter founded the Royal Canadian Military Institute as a body for "the promotion and fostering of military art, science and literature in Canada." The Gen Sir William Otter Papers are selected from those presented at events organized by the Defence Studies Committee of the Royal Canadian Military Institute.

William Dillon Otter Otter William Dillon The Queens Own Rifles of Canada Regimental

He was appointed as the first Commanding Officer of the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry in 1893.

Lieutenant Colonel Otter commanded the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry at the time of the Second Boer War, during which he played an important part in the Battle of Paardeburg. Otter commanded the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry in South Africa, where they were considered by many British officers to be the best infantry battalion in the country. He became the first Canadian-born officer to command Canada's military in 1908, and he retired in 1910 as a full general. Otter had the reputation of being something of a martinet – due mainly to his desire that the young Canadian Army should not show up badly when compared to British troops.

He wrote The Guide: A Manual for the Canadian Militia (Infantry) Embracing the Interior Economy, Duties, Discipline, Drills and Parades, Dress, Books, and Correspondence of a Battalion with Regulations for Marches, Transport & Encampment, Also Forms & Bugle Calls in 1914, which includes sections on discipline, courts martial, offences, complaints, and defaulters.

During the First World War he came out of retirement to command operations for the internment of enemy nationals resident in Canada.

Otter headed the Otter Commission. The Otter Commission was tasked to establish links of perpetuation from the units of Canadian Expeditionary Force back to the institutionally separate units of the Canadian Militia in the years following the First World War. This establishment of perpetuation, based primarily on geographical connections through original recruiting areas of the CEF battalions, provided a basis by which the achievements and battle honours of the CEF units transferred back to the units of the standing Militia. Without this work of the Otter Commission the CEF and its achievements would have had no continuance with existing units of the Canadian Army today.

General Sir William Otter died on 6 May 1929.


Otter was initiated into the Ionic Lodge of Freemasonry in Toronto in February 1869. He became Worshipful Master in 1873.


Otter Squadron, composed of University Training Plan Non Commissioned Member Officer Cadets, at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, was named in his honour.

Family connections

Otter was the grandfather of Canadian Military historian Desmond Morton.


William Dillon Otter Wikipedia