Monday, 27 June 2016

Canada's History : Great War Album

My collection of family history magazines are re-read numerous times, looking for great tips and unusual resources. In the Canada's History issue noted below, I found the story about John Edward Harding especially interesting, as it made me wonder if many British Royal Navy seaman had the same experience . . .

© Penny Allen - taken at the memorial
 alongside the Ypres Canal 2013
This edition of Canada's History October-November 2014 p.48-53 really struck my heart strings.

(The following information is provided courtesy of Canada's History magazine.)  

The magazine's comments: "As a First World War anniversary commemoration project, we at Canada's History magazine asked you, our readers, to send us your families' Great War memorabilia for possible inclusion in a book we are publishing this fall, called Canada's Great War Album." [p.48]

They explained that they continue to collect Canadian First World War memorabilia which is then uploaded to the website in order to share the stories and photos of our honoured veterans with everyone. Please see the link for details and for more information.

Here is a brief look at the men that were highlighted in their article. 

Arthur Frederick Boniface
   This is an unusual family story. Arthur Boniface served in the 13th Canadian Mounted Rifles and was originally from England, where he married Rose Rands (1898). After the war, returning to Claresholm, Alberta, he found his wife involved in women's rights. This was significant, as Rose was friends with one of the 'Famous Five'. They eventually separated. Richard Frogge, Boniface's grandson mentions in the article that "... he could never be reconciled to the changing roles of women..." . Arthur passed away in Victoria, B.C. in 1964 at 90 years.

John Edward Harding
   John (Jack) Harding joined the British Royal Navy in 1914 at 16 yrs of age, but was so affected by the sinking of the Lusitania that he hid his naval uniform under a rock while his ship was undergoing repairs in Halifax and enlisted there and then with the Canadian Army, in the 239th Battalion. He served in France and Belgium, at both Vimy and Passchendaele. Eventually, he received a pardon from King George V and spent the remainder of his life in Toronto where he died in 1978.

          This story has made me wonder how many British seamen deserted, and joined up with the Royal Canadian Navy or the Canadian Army during the Great War. Indeed, what if someone's Royal Navy ancestor just 'disappeared' into Canada in the same way that Jack did?

George, William and John Lomax
   A sad tale of three brothers from Alberta who went off to fight in the Great War, who died within months of each other. William died within months of returning home and his mother died within a few years. The family suspect she was heartbroken. They left their youngest sister, Margaret, who valiantly tended to the family farm in the Calgary area as a single woman. However, she was not able to continue to keep up to the demands of farming but stayed in Alberta.

Robert Mills
   Robert (48th Highlanders) spent five years recovering in Canada from spinal tuberculosis he contracted during the war. He was part of a group of patients at the Dominion Orthopaedic Hospital (DOH) who received experimental treatments of heavy doses of sunshine. This took place on the roof of the hospital, which gave the group the nickname, 'The Rooftop Gang'. Robert was able to complete his schooling while in hospital and married Kathleen Jones, one of his nurses. They settled in Toronto.

William Alfred Tilley
Canada's Great War website [accessed: 06/06/2016] 
William Tilley's photo is quite memorable, as he was a 'Home Child', one of many British child evacuees. William worked on a farm in Ontario, (not a happy experience) and when the war began, he joined up with the CEF at 27 years of age in 1916. His grandson comments that "He was an 'Empire man' to the end of his life."

Canada's Great War Album also includes contributions from Peter Mansbridge, Charlotte Gray, J.L. Granatstein, Christopher Moore, Jonathan Vance, and Tim Cook. The album is for sale on Canada's History website: 
A worthwhile purchase!

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