Billy Moore: Boy Scout Pioneer

From The Carleton Place Canadian, 1987

By Mary Cook

It was 89 years ago that a young British immigrant to Carleton Place by the name of Billy Moore began what is now believed to be the second Scout troop in Canada.  The first was formed in Merrickville two years before.  But for Billy Moore, scouting was the best thing that could happen to the young boys of his adopted town of Carleton Place, and he wasn’t long in gathering together a group of boys and marching them over to the Anglican Church to prevail upon Canon Elliott for sponsorship.


Billy Moore had fought alongside Baden-Powell in the Boer War in Africa in 1899, and he was so impressed with the British Colonel and his values that when Baden-Powell started the world Scout movement, Billy wanted to be in on the gournd floor.  Billy’s friendships at the time of the Boer War include that of another young Britain, Winston Churchill.


Some of the very first member’s included Billy’s own son, Percy,  who was to later lose his life in the first world war.  Other charter scouts included Dawson Emerson, Cecil Bryce, Jimmy Prendergast and Skinny McGuire.


The first headquarters were in space loaned to Billy by the Bates and Innes Mills.  It was an old warehouse on Bridge Street, but it served the purpose well.


It was here that the movement went on to produce the four youngest King’s Scouts in Canada.  They were all under 13 years of age at the time.  These four young boys were Howard Foote, Jimmy Misner, Walter McIlquaham, and Gibson Craig.  Tests were much harder in those days than they are today.  King’s Scouts had to win five badges which was no easy feat.


Max Gladish has fond memories of his early scouting days under the guidance of Billy Moore.  “I remember it cost us five cents a week to belong.  My grandparents lived just around the corner from the Moore’s who at that time lived on Lake Avenue East.  My grandfather, George Turner paid for my first uniform in fact.  They were great friends of the Moores.”


Those early scouts remember the camping outings to McCreary’s Shore on the Mississippi as being a wonderful time of fun and learning experiences.  Max was the camp bugler, so he was the first out of bed in the morning.  Everyone slept in tents and Alice Moore, Billy’s widow, remembers taking a few Carleton Place boys into her tent in the middle of the night because they were homesick.  “One young man who will remain nameless because he is a grown man still living here used to cry for home every night.  Nothing would console him.  Eventually, we’d have to bring him in our tent and bed him down beside Bill and me.  This went on for the entire duration of the scout camp,” she laughingly remembers.


Billy Moore had a wonderful sense of humor, with just the right ring of discipline in his voice.  He could laugh at little mishaps and setbacks, but he was adamant about protocol in the movement.  Everything had to be done to the letter.  There was no such thing as ‘almost right’.  It was either right or it was wrong!


Eventually the scouts moved their headquarters to the Sample Rooms of the Mississippi Hotel.  This is where the countless travelling salesmen set up shop to show their wares to the valley merchants.  But room was made for the scout meetings, and they continued to meet here for many years, compliments of the McIlquham family, owners of the hotel.


Sometime before that period however, Tom Graham who was in the scout movement for a few years in the troops earlier days remembers meeting in a building next door to where Knowlton’s Grocery Store used to be….across from the present Maple Leaf Dairy.  He guesses that would be around 1914.  “Billy Moore was awfully good at what he did.  Sometimes though, he had relax the rules.  Some of us couldn’t afford the full uniforms, so we were allowed to go to the meetings with just a tie, or that little scull cap, or we never could have belonged.”


It appears that the Scouts moved around a bit with their meeting place.  Probably because most of the locations were obtained rent-free.  At one time some of the original members recall the meetings being held in the Orange Hall as well.


Max Gladish remembers how solemn the initiation services were.  Billy Moore demanded and got a high level of decorum.  “It was a bit awesome, but we really felt it was something special to belong to the scouts, and it all came together at initiations.  I can remember all the candles.  I don’t remember too much about the ceremony itself, but I do remember kneeling and the candles, and how Billy would move about initiating us, and stressing the importance of discipline, and being true to the Scouting movement.  He had a great sense of pride and he expected us too to be proud of being scouts.”


By 1937, scouting was well established in Carleton Place.  It had been organized for 27 years, and dozens of young boys had joined and gone on to high standing in the movement.  Billy Moore continued to be the leading figure, and he worked at broadening the horizons of scouting on the local level.


That was the year a young Max Gladish was one of the scouts who would be trying for his Royal Life Saving Society medal.  Billy Moore was determined that his boys would have a good run at it. “We were taken to the Chateau Laurier for the tests.  I’ll never forget the thrill of swimming in that big indoor pool.  If we were going to be trying for that medal Billy Moore wanted to be sure we had the best possible facilities.”  They passed with flying colours.


In the late ‘30s, there used to be a vacant lot on the corner of Albert and Beckwith Streets, across from the present Rebekah Lodge building.  Later Ed Beaton was to build the brick bungalow that is there now.  Billy Moore thought it would be nice if the scouts learned a bit about building.  So he got permission to build a log structure on the site, and he put his troops to work on its construction.  Bill oversaw the building, and the Scouts were understandably proud of the finished headquarters.  It stood on the site for many years.


Cliff Bennett, for many years a leader in the local Scout movement, has fond memories of his mentor.  “We all respected Billy Moore.  I recall a Regional Camporee, which was a competition camp for local patrols held at Hopetown.  Billy was the guest of honor, even though by that time he was in his ‘90s and that was in the ‘60s.  He was keenly interested in everything to do with scouting, although his active involvement had passed.  But he always kept up on the troops and I can remember going down to his house at the end of Allen Street next door to the curling club, where he lived out his last years.  Those visits were just like campfire days.  He would talk for hours about early scouting days, and his dreams for scouting in the future.  And he’d talk about the Boer War and his friendship with the scouting founder, Baden-Powell.  It was like being in another time frame.  I cherish those memories of those visits very much,” Cliff says.


Baden-Powell once gave Billy a flag.  He was very proud of it, and kept it for many years.  And then as he was less and less able to take an active part in the local scouting movement, he wanted someone who appreciated the history of Carleton Place’s troops to have the flag.  “He gave me the flag.  I was so moved.  But I knew the flag really belonged to the whole Canadian Scouting movement, and so I presented it to the Scout Museum in Canada,” Cliff says.


Many years ago, a trophy was made out of a bit of twisted wood.  It was nothing spectacular…just a piece of wood form the Ottawa Valley.  It became the Billy Moore Trophy.


Billy Moore and Scouting in Carleton Place by Frank Roy

Here follows a brief biography of Billy Moore as related to his connection to Scouting in Carleton Place, and to the Billy Moore Collection. 

Mr. Moore was born in Sheffield in England in 1872, and raised in Birmingham.

He served an apprenticeship there as engineer, or what is now called machinist.  In 1898, age 26, before he could find work in his trade, he volunteered for service with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and in 1899 found himself in the South African Boer War, with the British 1st Army Corps under the command of General Redvers Buller.


During the first two weeks of the Boer War, in October, 1899, the Boers swiftly besieged three towns – Mafeking, Kimberley and Ladysmith.  This manoeuver effectively bottled up the 13 thousand British South African Regulars in these towns before the war got going.  The 1st Army Corps arrived in South Africa at the end of October, and General Buller attempted to relieve the siege of Kimberley and Ladysmith.  He was unsuccessful in this.  At the Battle of Colenso on the 15th of December, he failed to cross the Tulega River and relieve Ladysmith.  He then moved his army along the river to another point, and on the 16th of January, crossed the river and began to move back towards Ladysmith.  By this time, the Boers had set up a defensive line in some hills, the largest of which was Spion Kop or Look-out Hill.  The battle over this Hill, which took place on the 23rd and 24th of January, 1900, was to be the bloodiest single engagement of the War; although, as with most bloody military engagements, it was not tactically significant.  Following this, General Buller was replaced in his command by Lord Roberts, who re-grouped the British, outflanked and relieved the town of Kimberley, trapped the Boer General Cronje and forced his surrender with four thousand of his men on 28th February.  With this, the besieging Boer troops around Ladysmith withdrew, relieving that town.  Lord Roberts then moved northwards into the Transvaal to take Pretoria, and on this route, a force was sent to relieve Mafeking, on 18th May, 1900.  By this time, the town had been under siege for 218 days.


As all Scouts and Cubs know, during the siege of Mafeking, the man in charge of the troops there was Colonel Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scout movement.  Eight years later, Baden-Powell wrote a book called “Scouting for Boys”, based on his experience with organizing the boys and young men of Mafeking to help out during this siege, by going out for food, carrying messages, bringing in news of the Boer movements, and so on.


How many of our Scouts and Cubs here in Carleton Place know that Mr. William (Billy) Moore, the sponsor and leader of the 1st Scout Troop in Carleton Place, was a soldier in all those battles just reviewed, and was with the force which relieved Mafeking?  At that time, and later in 1902, in England, he met Baden-Powell as a soldier.


Following the relief of Mafeking, Lord Roberts had to pause in his march for several weeks because of a serious outbreak of enteric fever among the troops.  Mr. Moore was struck down by this fever and several weeks later, he awoke in a hospital in Durban.  The doctor who examined him when he regained consciousness, told the nurse that she should be ready to move him out to the bone-pile the following morning.  But, fortunately for boys in Carleton Place, the doctor was wrong about that one.  As is said, you can’t keep a good man down.  Or, on the other hand, it is also said, there’s no rest for the wicked.


Well, Mr. Moore was repatriated in 1902 to England.  At that time in England there was a grave shortage of work, so Mr. Moore came out to Canada in 1903.  For a short time he was night foreman at the Grand Trunk Locomotive repair shop in Stratford, and then in December, 1906, he came to Carleton Place, to take up work in the Canadian Pacific locomotive shop here, in the roundhouse where the wool grower’s store is today.


Meanwhile, Baden-Powell had also left the army, and after the success of his books on Scouting, and the formation of Scout Troops in England, he sent a Mr. Hammond to Toronto in the fall of 1908 as Field Secretary, to organize scouting in Canada.  Mr. Moore had spent some time talking and thinking about Scouting, so he wrote Mr. Hammond and invited him up to Carleton Place in the spring of 1909.  Together they went into Rideau Hall to see the Governor-General, Earl Grey, who agreed that starting a troop in Carleton Place or district, would be a good idea.  So they went around on various evenings after work to Almonte, Arnprior, Renfrew, and Pembroke in search of some organization that would stand for sponsor and provide a group committee.  They found no takers.  Then they went to the Canon of the Anglican Church here in Carleton Place.  He also could not encourage them.  Apparently the problem was two-fold.  Firstly, the popular idea of Scouting at the time was associated in people’s minds with the military and no one wanted to support an organization which turned boys into soldiers.  Secondly, there was already a well-established organization, called the Church Boys Brigade; and no one wanted to upset that establishment.  So, in the end, it was agreed that Mr. Moore would be the sponsor, group committee, scout leader, and general factotum; and thus the 1st Carleton Place Scout Troup started operations in May, 1909, with five boys, two of them being Mr. Moore’s sons.


It is a further matter of interest that Mr. Moore, in the course of his long association with Scouting, and also as a Boer War veteran, had met every Governor-General of Canada from Earl Grey onwards, except the Honourable Mr. Michener.


The first meetings were held in Mr. Moore’s house, but several weeks later, the Troop strength was up to nine members and the Mayor of the town offered them quarters upstairs in his store.  So each Scout brought his own chair and a stick of firewood to the meetings.  Though it has been an up and down sort of affair, Scouting in Carleton Place had grown considerably since then.


Some of the highlights claimed by Mr. Moore of the first Carleton Place’s history are that his first assistant, Mr. McCaffery, was the first Assistant Scoutmaster in Canada.  In 1919-20 the Troop had four of the youngest King Scouts in Canada; Gibson Craig, Jim Misner, Howie Foote, and Waddy McIlquham.  In 1920, also, Mr. Moore was awarded the Scout Medal of Merit for his service to the movement.  In 1939, during the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Canada, Mr. Moore arranged the use of a special car on the train to Ottawa West and from there guided the Carleton Place band of Scouts, Cubs, and Guides to Rideau Hall so they could personally salute the King and Queen.  Mr. Moore was awarded a Bar for his Merit Medal on this occasion.  So, along with the victorious hockey teams and canoe club, in the years before the war, the Scout Troop was a credit to the town also.

Mr. Moore’s enthusiastic support of Scouting continued in his later years and in 1969, the 60th anniversary of the 1st Carleton Place Scout Troop, the Troop presented Mr. Moore with a Diamond Willow Staff made from a stick of willow sent in from Saskatoon.  The reference for this is:  (


Mr. Moore dedicated the staff as a trophy for annual award at St. Lawrence Region Camporees, to the Troop displaying the best scouting spirit.  The first Troop to win it in 1969 was from Deep River.  Where it is now is not immediately known.


Billy continued to provide encouragement and support to the leaders and the boys until his death at the age of 97 years, on September 26, 1972.


Mr. Moore was a fine gardener.  On his passing, his wife Mrs. Moore decided to move into more convenient quarters.  Sad at having to leave all the bulbs and plantings in the garden, she offered them to the boys of the 1st Carleton Place Troop.  The lads carefully harvested the material that fall, had a garden sale, and with the money raised, funded the first Billy Moore Collection of books at the Carleton Place Public Library.  It would be nice if a collection identified with Billy Moore could be continued.


Frank Roy

Perth, Ontario