Soldier Spotlight: Gunner Frank Stevenson

Image: Dave Goodwin (left) and Frank Stevenson (right) standing beside a buggy. Used in “Across the Smoky,” p. 10. 1920 (SPRA 116.09.01.01.0078)

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: 2040193
Rank: Gunner
Branch: Canadian Garrison Artillery

Frank was born in Fredericton, PEI on November 27, 1889. He was living in Charlottetown at the time of his enlistment in December of 1916. Before going overseas, Frank had proposed to Edna Abbott. When he was discharged in 1919, Frank came west and filed on land at a SE 26-72-1-W6 and NE 24-72-1-W6. Eight years later, in 1927, he wrote to Edna to join him – she had written to him saying that if he didn’t have things ready, she was going to move on with her life. They had been engaged for eleven years. Frank and Edna were married on October 13, 1927. They raised their family of five children in DeBolt. Frank died in April of 1974.

Sources: surname file; Across the Smoky p. 36

Soldier Spotlight: Private Andrew Bisson

Image: Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery.  From Commonwealth War Graves Commission

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.

Regiment: Le Regiment de Maisonneuve, R.C.I.C
Regimental Number: M/106777
Rank: Private

Andrew Bisson was born on February 6, 1923 in St. Edward, Alberta. Born to French-Canadian parents, Elzear and Marie Anna Bisson, he was the youngest of ten children. At age 15 he completed Grade 7, and he was interested in baseball and hockey. When he was older, Andrew helped his brother on the farm and was a sawmill hand from 1940 to 1942. He was living in McLennan, Alberta when he enlisted in the army in on March 8, 1943. Since Andrew was mischievous as a youngster and had a daring nature, he volunteered for paratroop training. When he was only 21 years old, he was killed in action on July 22, 1944. He is buried in the Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery in France. (Grave Ref: VI B. 7.)

Source: Trails and Rails North Vol. 2 pp. 99 and 120
Attestation Papers – Library and Archives Canada

Soldier Spotlight: Private Stanley Thorsteinson

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: 472689
Rank: Private
Branch: 54th Battalion

Stanley was born in Ísafjörður, Iceland on October 10, 1892. He filed on SW 18-74-8-W6 in July of 1915. In November of 1915, he enlisted in the Canadian Army. Stanley was wounded on November 18, 1916 at 6:30 AM, twenty minutes after his battalion went over the top at the Somme. He suffered from shrapnel wounds to his right knee and the right side of his head. Stanley was moved two miles by stretcher, and invalided to Canada in March of 1917. On November 30, 1917, he was discharged, having been found medically unfit as a result of his injuries. In 1920/1921, Stanley filed on a second homestead at NW 8-74-9-W6. By this time, he was married to Dorothy Lettice Wilson. Stanley and Dorothy left the area in 1923. Stanley died on December 7, 1957.

Sources: Buffalo Trails p. 219

Soldier Spotlight: Douglas Blackie

Douglas Blackie (Memories & Moments p. 276)

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.

Douglas Blackie was born and raised in Edmonton, and attended a year of normal school and a year at University of Alberta studying Engineering. After his studies, he moved to Spirit River and became the teacher at the White Mountain School, where he taught from 1933 to 1936. In 1939 he married Alice Brown in Spirit River. Douglas joined the Air Force in July 1942 and was trained in radar and wireless communication. He was discharged in June 1946 and returned to teaching in the Spirit River School. Because he was going to operate the “Blackie Radio Electric” business, he resigned from teaching in 1950. Becoming the Post Master in 1954, Douglas also was a member of the town council for nearly ten years. Both Alice and Douglas enjoyed involvement in several musical and dramatic productions in the school and the United Church. In 1969 he was elected National President of the Canadian Postmasters Association, which required a move to Ottawa. When he retired, they moved back to Spirit River. Alice and Douglas had 3 children: Stuart, Heather and Patricia. Douglas died at age 89 in Grande Prairie in May 1999.

Source: Memories and Moments p. 76 Photo in uniform p. 276
Chepi Sepee p. 183 Photo in uniform

The Remembrance Tree

The Remembrance Tree has now been taken down.  Thank you to all who participated.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles and the conclusion of the First World War.  To commemorate this important anniversary, the South Peace Regional Archives has partnered with the Grande Prairie Museum on an interactive exhibit. The Remembrance tree contains identification tags (“dog tags”) of local veterans from the conflict. Visit the museum to collect a tag from the tree and then visit the Archives’ online Soldier’s Memorial to learn more about your veteran and thousands of others from our region.

Find Your WWI Veteran Here

or

Find Out More About the Solider’s Memorial Here

The South Peace River country of Alberta supplied thousands of recruits for both the World Wars. The South Peace Regional Archives is creating an online memorial to the veterans from the South Peace area who were involved in these conflicts. We have over 1,100 WWI soldiers and over 2,300 WWII soldiers listed on the site so far, and the list is growing. As we gather information about each soldier, it will be added to the memorial.

Soldier Spotlight: Sergeant Walter Eaton

Photograph: The Lake Saskatoon baseball team in the Twilight League, in 1914, before the First World War. Players included Walter Roberts (second base), M. Stewart (shortstop), Frank Douglass (left field), ? (right field), Ulia Douglass (pitcher and third base), Clem Douglass (catcher), ? Stokes (pitcher and third base), Walter Eaton (first base), and Harold Anderson (pitcher and centre field). The photograph was donated by Mrs. Luella Roberts.

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: 101230
Rank: Sergeant
Branch: 66th Battalion; 49th Battalion

Walter was born in Cleveland, Ohio on September 7, 1880. He filed on a homestead at NW 36-71-8-W6 and also worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company in Lake Saskatoon. Walter married Julia around 1906, and the couple had three children. He enlisted in the Canadian army in September of 1915 and was sent overseas. Late in 1916 there were mistaken reports that Walter had been killed in action, but a letter he sent to the Grande Prairie Herald in January 1917 confirmed that he was “very much alive and in good health.” In August of 1917, he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field. Walter was killed in action in the vicinity of Passchendaele on October 30, 1917.

Sources: Pioneers of the Peace p. 195; Lake Saskatoon Reflections, p. 30, 147, 175, 250, 254; Edson to Grande Prairie Trail p. 101

Walter’s military will (Library & Archives Canada)

Soldier Spotlight: William Adair

Photograph: William Adair in uniform walking along a city street and accompanied by a woman, ca. 1945 (SPRA 2008.102.01)

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.

William Adair was born in 1892 in Sussen, NB, and he graduated from Fredericton Normal School. He taught in Saskatchewan where his met and wife Nellie Mae Stewart. They married in Regina SK on Dec. 25, 1914. Then William served overseas in WW I. Upon returning, William had the urge to file on land in the Teepee Creek area in Alberta. In 1920 his wife and 2 year old daughter, Christine, moved out west to join him. The first school was built in 1920 and William taught there, as well as doing combine farming. He enlisted in the R.C.A. Medical Corps in WW II in 1941, letting his 17 year old son, Hudson, handle the farm. After William was discharged in 1944, he continued teaching and farming. He was also active in baseball. William died on April 25, 1966, the day of Nellie’s funeral.  Both were buried in the Grande Prairie Municipal Cemetery.

Source: Wagon Trails Grown Over p. 873
AGS website – Obituary Index

Soldier Spotlight: Sidney & Stanley Crane

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.

Sidney Henry Crane

Regimental Number: 101116
Rank: Private
Branch: 49th Battalion
Date of Birth: December 12, 1889

Stanley Wright Crane

Regimental Number: 427826
Rank: Private
Branch: 46th Battalion
Date of Birth: March 25, 1894

Sidney and Stanley Crane were born in England and came to Canada as young men.  After spending some time in Saskatchewan, Sidney came up to the South Peace and on April 9, 1914 he filed on NE 3-73-6-W6 for himself and on SE 10-73-6-W6 on Stanley’s behalf.  Both men enlisted in the Canadian Army in the summer of 1915.

A grim letter from Jim McDonald printed in the Grande Prairie Herald on February 13, 1917 lists seven local men who were killed in action at Courcelette.  Among them were both of the Cranes.  Sidney was killed in action on October 8, 1916, and Stanley on October 13, 1916.

Soldier Spotlight: John Spry

Photograph: Graduation class, Jack Spry front row middle, 1941 (SPRA 292.02.36)

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.

Jack Spry was born in Sexsmith, Alberta, the son of Walter & Rose Spry.

Jack served in the Royal Canadian Air Force for five years during World War II. He was certified as a wireless operator in 1941, became a certified Wireless air-gunner in 1942, and later that same year a S.E. Coastal Operator.

In 1943 Jack was stationed near India. One day out on anti-sub patrol with pilot Sgt. Gallagher they sighted lifeboats and fourteen survivors of the S.S. Montanan. In attempting a landing their hull was damaged in a heavy swell. This had them scrambling into a rubber dinghy and in need of rescue. The lifeboats they had been sent to rescue came to their aid. On June 9th, after 2 days and 7 hours adrift, they were rescued by Catalinas Y & G and later made landfall at Marsira.

After the war Jack returned to the Sexsmith area, where he farmed until his death at the age of 57 on Aug. 14, 1980. He was buried at the Emerson Trail Cemetery.

Soldier Spotlight: John Neys

Photograph: An aviation enthusiast, Jack Neys helped build this plane and flew it in the early 1930s.

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: 3208198; VR-6374
Rank: Private
Branch: Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve

Jack was born in South Dakota on June 7, 1896. He was living in Sexsmith when he was drafted in April of 1918; his homestead was located at NW 1-76-2-W6 and he later filed on NW 18-74-5-W6 as well. In 1918, Jack was discharged from the army and joined the Navy, where his brother Henry served as well. On October 5, 1927, Jack married Nellie May Warn. Jack had a keen interest in aviation and in 1931 earned his pilot’s license. He later owned a plane, and made several mercy flights. Jack died in Washington in January of 1973.

Sources: homestead record; Grande Prairie Capitol of the Peace p. 111-112; Wagon Trails Grown Over p. 646, 1148; Buffalo Trails p. 261