After the British declaration of war on Germany in 1914 Canada, as a dominion of Britain, was also at war. The standing militia of roughly 3 000 men was not nearly enough to fight the European War and arrangements were quickly made to raise battalions in towns across the country, many who were large enough would raise their own battalion that, until its deployment in Europe, would remain under the name of the place from which it came. In addition to locally raised battalions, recruited from the farmers and businessmen of the surrounding area, the Canadian government also made efforts to raise “special” battalions that would increase recruiting among particular communities.
Along with the 22e Bataillon, one of the only purely French speaking battalions of the CEF, the 199th or Duchess of Connaught’s Irish Rangers was raised to draw in recruits from the Irish community of Montreal and pitched that Irishmen joining would be able to fight alongside their fellow countrymen. The 199th was raised in 1915 and trained in Canada at Valcartier; however by May 1917 it was absorbed into the 23rd Reserve Battalion, most likely the result of losses at Vimy that prevented the battalion from listing a full strength.
As with the Pals battalions in England, many local battalions found that they could not keep their original character, as men died during battle and there were no recruits to replace them. Oftentimes, the battalions were absorbed into others or renamed and as a result it is sometimes difficult to track the wartime paths of many of them. Additionally, men were frequently transferred in and out of units and by the end of the war many battalions were a mixture of men, some of whom would probably never see the city from which their battalion hailed.