Soldier Spotlight: Private Herbert Stewart

Image: An excerpt from Herbert’s military service file with details about his injury (Library & Archives Canada)

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.

Regimental Number: 446753
Rank: Private
Branch: 49th Battalion; Canadian Forestry Corps

Herbert was born in Scotland on July 6, 1888. It is unknown when he came to Canada, but he enlisted in the Canadian Army in Calgary in May of 1915. In June of 1916, Herbert received slight shrapnel wounds to his right hand. He remained at duty in spite of the injury, but was unable to completely close his fingers after that injury. While on leave in England in August 1917, Herbert developed symptoms of shell shock and was transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps. His right leg was fractured at Ampthill, England in 1918 when a log fell from a wagon onto his leg (see pages 105 and 107 of his service file for images of the injury). Herbert’s leg was shortened by 2 inches and he had difficulty walking. In October of 1918, Herbert was invalided to Canada. He filed on the eastern half of 1-75-3-W6 in 1930. Herbert died on December 29, 1957 and was buried in the Teepee Creek Cemetery.

Soldier Spotlight: Sergeant Clifford Burbee

Image: Lymburn Train Station, ca. 1930 (SPRA 2000.73.171)

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.

Clifford Burbee was born in 1907, being one of 8 siblings, in Kenville MB. His education was taken at Pretty Valley School in Kenville. At age 14 he had to start working, and he had a job on a big steam threshing outfit. In 1924, at Bowsman MB, he worked at a sawmill where he got caught in a belt, but luckily only his overalls were ripped off. He worked one summer in Tisdale SK. Coming to the Peace Country in 1927, he worked in Grande Prairie as a butcher, and in construction. In Wembley, he worked at the roundhouse, and when the railroad came to Hythe, he worked there. Clifford filed on a homestead in Lymburn in 1929 where he lived for the winter. In 1930 he married Mabel Large, and they had a daughter, Eileen. Sadly, Mabel contracted tuberculosis, and died in 1936. Two years later, Clifford married again, to Carrie McDonald, and they had a daughter, Connie. During World War II, Clifford served in the army and was posted in France and Italy. Having attained the rank of Sergeant, he was discharged in September 1945. He then bought a farm 3 miles from Hythe, and Carrie and Clifford had 3 sons: Benny, Donald, and Herbert. Since World War II, Clifford worked in carpentry, and he was a member of the Hythe Canadian Legion. In 1963, he sold the farm, and built a house in Hythe. In November that year he moved to Prince George where he built two more houses. At the age of 84, Clifford passed away on January 13, 1992 in Prince George.

Source: Pioneer Round-Up pp. 185-187
South Peace Regional Archives: Family and Personal Life Reference Files – Obituary

Soldier Spotlight: Vernon “Bill” Cunningham

Image: The HMCS Bayfield was a minesweeper which patrolled the east coast from Boston to Halifax, dragging the ocean waters for mines planted by German U-boats. (SPRA 264.02)

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.

Vernon, known as “Bill” Cunningham, the eldest son of Berl and Ella (Perron) Cunningham, was born on November 9, 1922 in St. Albert AB. At age one he and his parents moved to St. Front SK. Then they returned to St. Albert in 1929, and he lived with his grandparents while starting school. In 1934 he rejoined is family in Mearns and attended Egg Lake School. The family moved to Girouxville AB in 1937, but Bill stayed behind because he was hired for farm chores by a neighbor. Unfortunately he did not continue his education.

When Vernon enlisted with the navy in 1943, he was nicknamed “Bill”, and he was known by that name from then on. (His brothers, Norman and Raymond also served in WW II.) After brief basic training, he was on active duty serving on corvettes (ships) Nonsuch, Naden, Stadacona, and Avalon. It was dangerous work aboard these ships as they were used for minesweeping and anti-aircraft protection. Bill received honorable discharge in 1945.

For several years he hauled gasoline by truck from Turner Valley to Edmonton. Then he worked for Mills Motors in Alcomdale AB, and he was also a school bus driver. Bill met his future wife, Hilda Janke, while coaching a ladies’ softball team. They married on March 11, 1949 and lived in Alcomdale. With help from the VLA, Bill acquired land in the Whitemud area which he cleared in 1950, and planted a crop in spring of 1951. That summer their Alcomdale house burnt down; shortly afterward their cabin on the homestead also burned to the ground. Bill went into partnership with his brothers in the logging and sawmill business. In 1955 he went to Prince George finding work falling trees, and he moved his family there. After some severe injuries at his job, Bill took up carpentry and built a beautiful house for his family. But a short time later they returned to the homestead, and now having a full line of farm machinery, they prospered at farming. In 1981 Bill was diagnosed with lung cancer, and he passed away that December 7. Hilda moved back to Prince George. Bill and Hilda had 4 children: Gary, Vicki, Cindy, and Sandra.

Source: Reflexions pp. 467- 468, Photos pp. 469, 231

Soldier Spotlight: Private William Hannigan

Image: clip from November 1, 1916 Grande Prairie Herald

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: 101381
Rank: Private
Branch: 66th Battalion; 49th Battalion

William was born in Nashua, Iowa on June 1, 1876. He enlisted in Grande Prairie on September 21, 1915. On October 10, 1916, just four months after arriving in France, William died at the Casualty Clearing Station Special Hospital in Warloy-Baillon, France. He had been wounded in the legs on the German wire and bound up his own wounds and those of two other soldiers. According to Col. Griesbach’s battle report, “German bombers endeavored to bomb the shell hole… he caught the German bombs in his hands and threw them away… he crawled away from his shell hole and was again bombed; endeavoring to catch and throw these latter bombs away, one of them exploded in his hands…” Col. Griesbach gives further details of Hannigan’s injuries and journey to the Field Ambulance where he died of his wounds (see link below).

Soldier Spotlight: Alphonse Deslauriers

Image: Home of Maxim Gervais, Falher, Alberta. June 16, 1931. Used in 1937 Not By Bread Alone lecture as B. 22. SPRA 362.02.13.062

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.

Alphonse Deslauriers, son of Ernest and Monique (Lapointe), was born in St. Laurent, Quebec, on January 23, 1917. In April 1928 he and his family moved to Girouxville AB. Whereas he had started school in St. Laurent, he continued his education in Falher AB, staying in the convent. In 1930 he attended Girouxville School. When Alphonse was older, he worked for farmers, clearing many quarters of land by ax with his father and brothers. Joining the Army in 1942, Alphonse took basic training in Canada, and then served in England, France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany. In 1946 he was involved in a convoy, delivering trucks to Czechoslovakia. He also traveled through Nuremberg, the site of the Nazi rally. After his discharge in 1946, he returned to the Girouxville area to homestead the land SW 5-78-22-W5. Through the Veteran’s Land Act he obtained the land SW 5-78-21-W5. Alphonse married Marie-Louise Remillard, a nurse from Falher, on October 14, 1947. While he farmed in the warmer seasons, Alphonse worked in lumber camps in the winters. In 1952 the Deslauriers moved to the village of Girouxville where he worked at the Co-op for nine years. From 1962 to 1981 he was postmaster until he retired. Alphonse and Marie-Louise had 2 sons: Raymond and George.

Source: Reflexions Vol. II, pp. 479-481 (photo p. 480)

Soldier Spotlight: Dmytro Hrychan

Image: Street view of Spirit River, showing several businesses, including H. H. McLeod Hardware, A. W. Davies Meat Market, W. Wade Real Estate, Insurance and Notary Public, and Spirit Hardware. The photograph appears to have been contributed by Percy H. Jones of McLennan, Alberta. 1917 (SPRA 032.08.08.1002)

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.

Matt was born November 1, 1897 in Sarni, Ukraine. At the age of 18, he joined the Austrian army as the Ukraine was under Austrian rule at that time. He served in Italy, then in the area between Russia and Rumania, and finally on the front lines during the 1918 revolution. Matt was captured by the Polish army and was a prisoner of war at Scholkova. In June of 1926, Matt arrived in Halifax. From there he came west and eventually settled in the Peace River area in 1930. Matt married Anne Solomiany in 1932. They had two daughters. In 1976 they sold their homestead and moved into Spirit River. Matt died on May 24, 1992 and was buried in Spirit River.

Sources: The Big Bend, p. 151; Chepi Sepe p. 497

Soldier Spotlight: Private Cyril “Hector” Botten

Image: A bird’s-eye view of the Grande Prairie Army Training Centre, including several “H” huts and part of the hockey rink, ca. 1941 (SPRA 2011.44.41)

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: Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps (R.C.O.C.)
Regimental Number: M56296
Rank: Private
Force: Army

Hector Botten came to Canada from Portsmouth, England around 1929. He and his friend, Johnny Coates, sought adventure and were especially interested in owning land in the Canadian frontier. Hector filed on a homestead in Sylvester area (near Elmworth). He became friends with Mr. and Mrs. Bob Frame of Elmworth, and he lived with their family for 12 years, helping with the farm chores. When World War II broke out, Hector was determined to join the army, and was delighted to be accepted in February 1942. He was at the Grande Prairie Military Training Centre only 2 months when he contracted pneumonia, and sadly he died on April 14, 1942. It was the first death at the training centre. On April 16 Hector was given a military funeral, and was buried at the Grande Prairie Cemetery. Hector’s mother and brother were still in England. According to Bob Frame, Hector was a “man of highest principles” and of “cheerful disposition”. Mrs. Frame kept in touch with Hector’s mother for many years afterwards. In 1974 Hector’s brother came from England to visit Mrs. Frame, who was living in Hythe at the time, to thank her for making a home for Hector.

Source: Grande Prairie Herald Tribune April 23, 1942 p. 1, c. 7 and p. 5, c. 3
Beaverlodge to the Rockies Supplement p. 151
AGS Obituary Index
Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Soldier Spotlight: Private William Atkinson

Image: A page from William’s service file (Library & Archives Canada).  “GSW rt hand Nov 14 1916.  Index finger slightly stiff, not as strong as before.  Good grip in that hand.  Complains that his glasses do not fit him.  Says he has pains in head.  Sleeps badly.  Heart rapid but action good.  Lungs negative.”

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: 472536
Rank: Private
Branch: 46th Battalion; 5th Battalion Canadian Railway Troops; No. 7 Canadian Stationary Hospital, Canadian Army Medical Corps

William was born on March 11, 1885 (1886?) in Keswick, England. He came to Canada around 1910 and at the time of his enlistment in 1915 was living in Saskatchewan. William received a gunshot wound to his right arm at the Somme, and an wound to his scalp as well; he was seriously ill for some time after these injuries. After his recovery, William joined the Railway Troops. In 1917 he was gassed. William was granted permission to marry Doris on Sept. 21, 1918 and on October 1 his pay started going to his new wife. He was discharged on May 1, 1919. William, along with his wife Doris and daughter Joan, moved to Valhalla from England in 1929 and filed on a homestead at NE 33-75-9-6. They didn’t farm much, but raised Persian cats for sale. He died in the Grande Prairie Hospital after a long illness caused by war injuries on January 29, 1939.

Sources: Pioneer Round-Up Volume II p. 436; La Glace Yesterday & Today p. 92; Cemetery Record

The Sawdust Fusiliers: Veterans of the Canadian Forestry Corps

Image: William J. Noll on horseback leaving to join the Canadian Forestry Corps, 1917 (SPRA 2014.061.014c)

The upcoming issue of Telling Our Stories focuses on forests and forestry in the South Peace.  To give you a sneak preview of an article highlighting the Sawdust Fusiliers and the role they played in the First World War, here are the names of some local men who served in the Canadian Forestry Corps.  For biographies of these men, visit the World War I Soldiers Memorial.

Private Andrew Bennett

tripped while on parade in 1916, which led to doctors discovering a cyst on his knee

Private John Blonke

jaw was fractured when he was assaulted by a civilian in Scotland

Private Walter Bowen

was badly gassed in 1917 and also suffered from flat feet, which led to his transfer to the Forestry Corps

Private Leonard Broomfield

served with No. 11 Company in France, where they were engaged in aerodrome construction

Private Fred Burrin

was appointed ‘logcutter’ and given a raise in pay, but reverted to Private at his own request

Captain Robert Campbell

was made second in command of No. 41 Company in August 1918

Private Frederick Chiverton

was transferred to the Forestry Corps due to recurring heart trouble

Sergeant Henry Connery

three of his four sons also joined the army in WWI

Lieutenant Harlie Conrad

enlisted in the RNWMP in 1914 as a way of getting into the army

Private Ernest Constantin

had been hard of hearing since childhood, but condition was worsened by army life

Private Jerry Cronin

had a cataract in his right eye, due to having been struck in the eye with the end of a whip

Private John Cummins

worked as a logger before joining the Forestry Corps

Private Frank Dundas

medical examination states that he was missing the tip of a finger

Private Omer Dupont

while serving in England with the Forestry Corps, he married an Englishwoman

Private Joseph Duszinski

was shot in the arm in May 1916 at Ypres

Private Thomas East

was a widower with eight children when he enlisted

Private William Fair

after being wounded in June 1917, a large piece of shrapnel remained embedded near his shoulder blade for six months

Private Isaac Frazee

his left hand was paralyzed after receiving multiple shrapnel wounds in May 1916

Acting Sergeant Robert Gerow

he and his son both served in the Forestry Corps

Private Robert Gerow

served in France with the Forestry Corps for a short time before falling ill and being sent to hospital in England

Private Henderson Graham

was blind in his right eye, and therefore not fit for active service at the front lines

Sergeant Charles Hastings

due to a mining accident in 1903, one of his legs was shorter than the other

Private John Kneafsey

while in the Forestry Corps, he was thrown off a truck; his clavicle was fractured and he had a concussion, which led to dementia

Private Chester Lowe

was only 15 years old when he enlisted

Private Gordon McCullough

suffered from dementia, likely due to shell shock; died in 1924 as a result of having been gassed during the war

Private Robert McDonald

in January 1918 he was sent to the School of Farmery to receive training for cold shoeing

Private Charles MacGregor

lied about his age by ten years in order to enlist

Private George MacGregor

worked as a cook during his time in the Forestry Corps

Private Henry Moss

after the war, a miscommunication led to his wife and family believing him to be dead, and it was decades before he was reunited with them

Private William Noll

when he left to enlist in 1918, he pinned a poem to his door stating that he would not be returning to the area

Private Lorne Nowry

after serving in the Forestry Corps, he came to Grande Prairie and bought a sawmill

Acting Corporal Jacob Orman

before being transferred to Forestry Corps, he was attached to the Russian Embassy in London

Private Raymond Pellerin

was wounded at Vimy Ridge before being transferred to the Forestry Corps

Private Thomas Rice

when he slipped on ice, his foot became jammed between a log, the carriage, and the skidway

Private Mike Rostalski

was shot in the leg in May 1917, after which he was transferred to the Forestry Corps

Private Herbert Stewart

after being injured at the front lines, he was transferred to the Forestry Corps; in 1918, a log fell from a wagon onto his leg, causing severe damage

Private Peter Stuart

worked as a lumberjack before the war

Private George Tate

injured his shoulder during training and as a result he remained in England with the Forestry Corps for the duration of the war

Private Robert Tilt

dyed his hair in an unsuccessful attempt to look young enough to enlist in World War II

Acting Sergeant Spencer Tuck

was gassed at Ypres in August 1916, losing partial function of his right eye

Soldier Spotlight: Private Archibald Setter

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: 736480; 101051
Rank: Private
Branch: 66th Battalion; 8th Battalion

Archie was born in Battleford, Saskatchewan on May 4, 1892. In 1914, he filed on NW 1-77-5-W6, near Spirit River. He enlisted in the Canadian Army in July of 1915, though he was absent without leave (still in Canada) from August 30, 1915 until April 9, 1916. In spring of 1916 Archie enlisted and was sent overseas. A letter Archie wrote was printed in the February 20, 1917 Grande Prairie Herald:

Northumberland War Hospital

Dear Friend,

I suppose you will be quite surprised to hear from me; however, as I am living in my bed at the above hospital I thought I would write you a few lines. We arrived in Liverpool on the 7th May 1916 and there went to a place called St. Martin’s Plains and from there I was drafted in to the 8th Bttn. and went to France in June. I was in the battle of Ypres in June and also was at the Somme when I got hit in the left ankle, and I have finally lost my left foot, it is cut off about 5 inches above the ankle, so my chances are pretty good for getting back to Canada once more. Well Bill, you people have no idea of the war, but I can tell you that it is simply hell.

I suppose Grande Prairie is a big place now since the railroad is there.

Dean Hodgins was in the same Bttn. as me, I wrote to him a few times since I got wounded, but I have got no answer so I don’t know what has happened to him.

My leg is not quite healed yet but I am improving greatly. I think it will be some time yet before I will be able to use an artificial limb.

Well, Bill, this will be all for this time and if you don’t answer this letter please tell Mr. Rae that I want some papers.

I remain your friend,
Pte. A. Setter
No. 101051 No. 5 Ward, 8th Canadians

Archie had accidentally shot his foot while cleaning his rifle on September 10, 1916. His medical records state that he “was struck by rifle bullet in ankle accidentally by discharge of his own rifle. Foot was badly shattered. Wound became very septic requiring amputation which was performed Oct. 21, 1916.” It was later reported in the Grande Prairie paper that Archie came back to Canada and was working as a postmaster in Saskatchewan. Archie died on May 2, 1975.