Soldier Spotlight: Harry & Laura Harper

Image: a photograph from Laura’s military service file

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this 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.

Harry:
Regimental Number: 898247
Rank: Sergeant
Branch: 49th Battalion

Laura:
Rank: Nursing Sister

Branch: Canadian Army Medical Corps

Harry was born in Brantford, Ontario on December 12, 1887. He was living in Pincher Creek, Alberta at the time of his enlistment in March of 1916. Harry was sent to Sarcee Camp near Pincher Creek for treatment in the army hospital, as he had gotten an infection from one of his vaccinations. Here he met nurse Laura Jean Hanham. Laura was born in Welland, Ontario on August 3, 1889 and came to western Canada before World War I began. She was working at Sarcee Camp at the beginning of the war. Later, both Harry and Laura were sent overseas, Harry to the front lines in France and Laura to the No. 12 Canadian General Hospital at Bramshott.

Harry and Laura were married in Bramshott, England ca. November 1918, while they were both serving overseas. After the war, the couple came to the South Peace. Harry filed on SW 28-79-13-W6 and SE 29-79-13-W6, and Laura on NE 29-79-13-W6; despite Harry’s best efforts, however, he found he was not a farmer and canceled both homesteads. Instead, the family moved into Spirit River, where Harry worked as a carpenter. Harry died on April 22, 1939 and was buried in the Spirit River cemetery. Laura decided to go back east after his death and died in Toronto in 1978. She was buried alongside Harry in the Spirit River cemetery.