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South African (Boer) War -- 11 Oct 1899 – 31 May 1902

The first European settlement established in South Africa was by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, joined by a contingent of Huguenot refugees in 1689. When the Dutch East India Company went bankrupt and the English seized the colony in 1795. However, the Amiens's Treaty of 1802 gave the colony back to the Netherlands. Britain again seized control of the Cape in 1806. Finally, in 1814 Holland agreed to abandon its claim to the Cape for a grant of about 2 million British pounds.

After decrees making English the official language (1824) and abolishing slavery (1834), many Boers left the Cape in 1836 setting up the Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republic. The Boers (Dutch for farmers) fought to keep their republics free of British encroachments. The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in the Transvaal in 1886 drew foreigners like a magnet. Rising tension between British settlers and the Transvaal authorities led to the outbreak of the first Anglo-Boer War in 1880 in which the British were defeated

Sir Alfred Milner, the British High commissioner for South Africa precipitated the war to gain for the Empire the economic power of the gold mines in the Dutch Boer republics. British forces prevailed in this conflict, and the republics were incorporated into the British Empire. Canadian troops took an active part in the war sending six contingents, comprising of 7,363 (including 16 nurses). Of these 245 died – 71 killed in action; 27 of wounds; 103 of fever; 42 died otherwise and 2 missing. The war broke out on the 11th October, 1899, and peace was signed at Pretoria on the 31st May, 1902.

Now considered a ‘politically incorrect’ campaign, Canada did not be issue a commemorative postage stamp to mark the anniversary of the armistice.

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