Soldier Spotlight: Private Thomas Rice

Image: A group of DeBolt homesteaders at the Sturgeon Lake Sports Day. Standing, left to right: Elbert DeBolt, Cy Young, Ove Nielson, and Tom Rice. Seated, left to right: Jack McLaughlin, Bill LeValley, Irene Cummings (first East Smoky teacher), Ellis Turner, Virginia De Bolt, Mary Walters, and George DeBolt. Used in “Across the Smoky,” p. 331. ca. 1925 (SPRA 116.09.01.01.0621)

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

Regimental Number: 2288437
Rank: Private
Branch: Canadian Forestry Corps

Thomas was born on March 29, 1893 in International Falls, Minnesota. He came to Canada with his parents as a young boy, living first in Ontario and eventually coming to Alberta, where he was living at the time of his enlistment in April of 1917. Thomas went absent without leave from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM on October 16, 1917 and forfeited 24 days of pay as a result. On December 11, 1917, Thomas was injured accidentally. According to his service file, he was injured “while replacing the dogger on the carriage, Pte. Rice slipped, owing to the ice on the oak skids, and he foot was jammed between the log and the carriage and the skidway.” In April of 1918 Thomas was absent without leave overnight, and on June 3, 1918 he was absent without leave for two hours. While overseas, Thomas met Suzanne Chabau. They were married after the war, though Thomas spoke no French and Suzanne, a Frenchwoman, spoke no English. They came to the South Peace after the war and filed on the southern half of 2-73-3-W6 in 1919. They sold the homestead after thirty years and moved to Goldfields, Saskatchewan. Four years later they moved back to Edmonton. During World War II, Thomas was sent to work in a plant in Ontario. His family joined him once he got settled. Thomas died in Hamilton, Ontario on January 5, 1974.

Sources: Smoky River to Grande Prairie p. 177