Here is a Ross rifle presented to "Colonel J. T. Thompson, Ordnance Corps USA, with the complements of Colonel the Hon. Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia and Defense for Canada, 17th April 1914."  The rifle is still in the possession of the heirs of Mrs. John Thompson.

According to Ronald Bayeock, Professor of Military History at the Royal Military College of Canada, the history is as follows.


Thank you very much for your e-mail . I am always amazed to discover the various famous people to whom our energetic defense minister gave Ross Rifles.

He did this for several reasons, but the the most important was his attempt--along with Col. the Baronet, Sir Charles Ross- to break into the very lucrative Imperial small arms market before the First German War. As you might know the British Empire was a monopoly for the Royal Arsenals system and the private trade arms companies such as BSA and London Small Arms Co. The No. 1, Mk 111, (SMLE , pattern 1907) left much to be desired as a battle rifle compared to advances that were then taking place in the heady world of small arms development.  The War Office had been working on a replacement for some years for the SMLE and its obsolete .303 in ammunition. They had substantial difficulty in comming to grips with a design that was appropriate . This latter problem was in part due to a chronic Inability of British science and technology to be competitive with what the Germans or the Americans were able to do . For instance, as early as 1902 the WO tried to have Royal Laboratories develop a self-loading rifle. After nearly a decade they gave up . The rifle they finally designed to replace the SMLE was known as the Pattern-1913 in .276 inch calibre.  Both the rifle and the ammunition were "strongly" influenced by looking at Mauser's design of the 1898 German rifle and at Sir Chas. Ross' state of the art .280 in. cartridge that he had originally intended (and had designed) for his rifles in Canada.  Ultimately the P-13 rifle was not put into production by the British due to the outbreak of the war . However, the same conflict saw the British sorely unprepared for the fight in terms of stocks of SMLE's.  So they subcontracted the P-13 design out in the U.S.A. to Remington Arms, Remington at Eddystone and to Winchester.  All three US firms made this rifle in .303 in. ( now called the P-14) for the British an a second line reserve.  It never became the main British battle rifle. But it had a substantial history.  Indeed, in 1917 when the U.S.A declared war , there was a similar shortage of rifles in the Republic to outfit 'Black Jack' Pershings boys; consequently Washington ordered the three firms to modify the design of the P-14 for which they were still tooled . That was simply a matter of changing the calibre and sights to match the calibre of the model 1903 Springfield in 30-06 . This modification then became the P-17 used by US troops in the Great War along with the venerable Springfield .

The connexion of this laborious explanation is to help appreciate why Hughes was so anxious to get copies of the Canadian Ross in the hands of as many influential people as he could --- that is to break into a rapidly changing market in which there was money to be made and prestige to be had if successful. The Minister also knew the usual eternal truth of weopons procurement at any time : that the Canadian market was too small to make the Ross pay f or itself and to keep production up . Moreover the cost of the weopon had to be reduced to where the Canadian Government could afford it , and to be competetive with the foreign rifles then on the maket .