Soldier Spotlight: Leading Seaman Alexander Swanson

Image: 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. 1942 (SPRA 264.02)

Regimental Number: B 2869
Rank: Leading Seaman
Branch: Royal Navy

Alexander was born in Sangomore, Scotland on February 13, 1877. He began working as a fisherman at the age of 14, and joined the Royal Navy reserve in 1893 at the age of 16. On January 15, 1909, Alexander married Mrs. Swanson in Burghead, Scotland. During World War I, Alexander served on a minesweeper. He was on patrol duty in the Atlantic for some time; though he saw only very little of Canada during this time, it was enough to “file away for future reference.” After a few more years in the difficult life of a a fisherman, Alexander, his wife, and their children decided to move to Canada. They arrived in the South Peace in 1926, and filed on LT 2-77-5-W6 in 1930. He later abandoned this homestead, but purchased two other quarters that he farmed until 1950 – his 73rd birthday. His son took over the farm then, though Alexander and his wife continued to help on the farm until into their 80s. Alexander died in 1966.

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.

Soldier Spotlight: Ray Carleton

Image: Bird’s eye view of Hythe, Alberta seen from the south-west in 1929. The Donald Hotel is on the far right. 1929 (SPRA 610.01.20)

Ray was born in Keremeos BC, the son of Ben and Ellen Carleton, and one of 8 siblings. The family moved to Saskatchewan in 1922 where they farmed. The drought hit in the late 20’s, so they moved to the Goodfare AB area and continued farming in 1929. They left the area in 1935 and returned to Keremeos where Ray settled. In 1940 he joined the Canadian Armoured Corps and was posted overseas. According to Ray, he had some “harrowing experiences” while being a Prisoner of War. Fortunately he was able to escape, and he was awarded the “Oak leaf and Cluster” for being the most escaped POW. After the war, Ray married Gertie Stevens from Hythe, the daughter of Charlie Stevens. On December 4, 1946 he received a citation for distinguished service. Ray’s brother Lloyd also served overseas in WW II.

Source: Pioneer Round-Up pp. 70-71

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.

Soldier Spotlight: Private Albert Allard

Image: Medical case notes from Albert’s military service file (Library & Archives Canada)

Regimental Number: 26402
Rank: Private
Branch: 21st Reserve Depot Battalion; 14th Battalion

Albert Allard was born on April 25, 1894 in St. Roch L’Achigan, Quebec. He came to Donnelly, Alberta in 1914 and filed on a homestead at NE 1-78-21-5. On April 23, 1915, Albert was on a ration party at Ypres when a shell burst close to him, knocking him down. He was not rendered unconscious, but his shoulder was injured. He was invalided to England to be treated for various injuries/illnesses, including shell-shock. On May 4, 1915, his Medical Case Sheet read: “much improved, but not really well.” Three months later, he was 16 pounds lighter than his usual weight, and his shoulder was still somewhat stiff. But worst of all, he was in a very nervous condition, “his whole being quivering all the time.” He was sent back to Canada in August, 1915 because of nervous shock. After the war, he sold his land to Dr. Gauthier and returned to Montreal. It is unknown whether he was ever able to recover.

Sources: By the Peavine in the Smoky of the Peace p. 99, 166

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.

Soldier Spotlight: Sergeant Thomas Burrows

Image: Thomas Burrows, 1939 (SPRA 2005.094.03)

Regiment: R. C. A. M. C. 4th Casualty Clearing Station
Regiment No.: M25812
Rank: Sergeant

Thomas Burrows, born in 1911, arrived in Canada from Glasgow, Scotland in 1927 with his father, Robert Burrows, step-mother, Mary (Pollock) Burrows, and his siblings. The family started farming in the Glen Leslie district, near Bezanson AB. Before the Second World War, Thomas worked on the farm, and for local farmers in Bezanson. He also homesteaded for 3 years in the Fitzsimmons district.

On September 9, 1939 Thomas joined the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. He was then stationed overseas on January 25, 1940. Due to medical reasons, he was sent home to Edmonton. Diagnosed with lip cancer, he received treatment in England. Thomas returned to Edmonton on February 26, 1941 and then worked at Prince of Wales Armories. After that, he was in Suffield AB at an Experimental Station for 4 ½ years. Thomas was discharged in Calgary on October 1, 1945. Six more of his siblings also served in the war.

Thomas married Vera Rees of Edmonton. Moving back north, the couple farmed in the Crystal Creek district. (Between Bezanson and Grande Prairie.) Then they returned to Edmonton where Thomas worked for the government. He retired in 1975, and they moved to Ladysmith BC, where he passed away 2 years later at age 66. Thomas and Vera had 10 children.

Source: Smoky River to Grande Prairie pp. 422 and 448
AGS Website – Obituary Index
SPRA Family Reference Files – written by Helen Burrows Horrigan, including photo
Source: Smoky River to Grande Prairie pg. 422

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.

Soldier Spotlight: Private Benjamin Gray

Image: Log house of B. T. and J. S. Gray. Crooked Creek, Alberta, August 16, 1933. Photographed by W. D. Albright. (SPRA 362.02.13.45)

Regimental Number: 160810
Rank: Private
Branch: 82nd Battalion

Benjamin was born in Wingham, Ontario on November 7, 1888. He was a furniture dealer when he enlisted in the Canadian army in 1915. At that time he was residing in Bassano, Alberta with his wife Matilda. He joined the Nova Scotia Machine Gun section and went overseas with the 82nd Battalion from Calgary and later was transferred to the 25th Nova Scotians. Benjamin was injured on April 9, 1917 at Vimy Ridge. He was shot on his right side shattering a part of his arm and breaking two ribs. He was transported to a hospital where he was treated; the wounds healed but the bones in his arm did not and he eventually was sent back to Canada. There they continued to work on his arm. He had an operation but the bones would not mend and in 1918 they amputated his arm. Benjamin settled in the Clarkson Valley and DeBolt district a few miles east of Crooked Creek and was known for the wonderfully constructed buildings on his farm. His homestead was located at S1/2 19-75-9-W6. Benjamin farmed and for a short time had a store on the farm. He opened the store on June 15, 1934. Benjamin died at the age of 58 on September 4, 1938.

Sources: Tales, Trails & Gumbo p. 449

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.

Soldier Spotlight: Alfred Cecil Carder

Image: Farmstead at Beaverlodge Experimental Station showing house, gardens, barn and windmill, 1928 (SPRA 107.60)

Rank: Private
Force: Canadian Army

Born in Calgary on April 20, 1910, Al Carder was the fourth of 5 children of John and Harriet Carder. He grew up in the farm area of Cloverdale, BC, and as a young boy was fascinated with plants. In 1935 he had earned his BA and BSc from the University of British Columbia, and found employment at the Experimental Station in Beaverlodge, AB. When the war broke out, he joined the Canadian Army in 1941, and became a private with the Light Anti-Aircraft Division. Mostly he was shooting down enemy planes. Discharged in 1946, Al returned to work in field husbandry at Beaverlodge, later working in forage crop and weed control. Taking a leave from the Experimental Station, he earned his MSc from McGill University in 1948. In 1950 he met his future wife, Mary Elizabeth Wedd Tidman. They were married in 1954 in her hometown of Petersfield, England, and returned to Beaverlodge. The Carders had 3 children who were born there: Judith, Mary-Clare, and Andrew. Also in 1954, Al earned his PhD from University of Wisconsin, and concentrated his studies in the new science of agro-climatology, and his research was on plant responses to climate effects. He received the Canada’s Centennial Medal from the Canadian Department of Agriculture. Al and Mary moved to Cordova Bay (near Victoria BC) in 1970. In his retirement, Al was active in hiking, building a cottage, and doing more research. He wrote and published books about giant trees, and was bestowed the Ancient Forest Alliance’s Forest Sustainability Award. Mary passed away in 2008, and Al died on December 21, 2014, in Victoria at the age of 104.

Source: Family and Personal Life Reference files – GP Archives
Beaverlodge to the Rockies pp. 91-92

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.

Soldier Spotlight: Lieutenant Delmar Pratt

Image: Group men in front of Selkirk Trading Company includes: Ike Nelson (young man at the door with white shirt and tie), Alex Wishart driving the team, Delmar Pratt sitting beside Mr. Wishart. (Could be Tom Paul in back of the wagon) 1915 (SPRA 024.01.09.57)

Regimental Number: 467208
Rank: Lieutenant
Branch: 63rd Battalion; 5th Reserve Battalion; 15th Reserve Battalion

Delmar was born on August 2, 1889 in Carleton County, Ontario. In 1913 he came to the South Peace and filed on NE 12-71-6-W6 (after the war, he also filed on SE 20-71-4-W6). In addition to homesteading, he worked in the Grande Prairie post office. Delmar enlisted in the RNWMP in August 1914. In September of 1915, he enlisted in the Canadian army. Delmar was wounded in action three times. In September of 1916, he received a gunshot wound to the head and a shell wound to his nose. At Vimy Ridge on April 10, 1917, he received gunshot wounds to his right arm and left wrist; there were four or more pieces of metal in his arm. On September 27, 1918 he received shrapnel wounds to the head. Delmar was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous bravery in March of 1919. In December of 1920, Delmar married Mabel Lucille McCordick in his hometown in Ontario. The couple returned to Grande Prairie after the wedding. Delmar died of a heart attack on February 26, 1959.

Sources: Pioneers of the Peace p. 291-292; check database for clippings

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.

Soldier Spotlight: Glen Carpentier

Image: A portion of the newly built Alaska Highway at Ft. St. John, 1942 (SPRA 2000.31.6)

Regiment: Royal Canadian Electric Mechanics

Born in Saskatchewan, to parents Charles and Alma Carpentier, Glen was one of 9 siblings. His family moved in 1930 to Little Smoky AB area, and later they moved to New Fish Creek (Valleyview area). From 1935 to 1942 Glen worked on Highway 34 as a road grader with four mules, and was known as “Mule Man.” He married Chrissie Cunningham from Little Smoky in June 1940 in Grande Prairie. Coming home from their honeymoon, they found their log cabin (on Glen’s homestead called “Sleepy Hollow”) on fire. With help of wonderful neighbours, a new house was constructed in 4 days. After two years they moved to Vancouver Island. There Glen joined the army with the RCEM, and he was posted in England. In 1946, after his discharge, the Carpentiers returned to New Fish Creek, and Glen obtained more land through Veterans’ Land Act (VLA). In their new house they had 3 children: Kathy, Gary, and Susan. Chrissie died in 1956 from cancer, and Glen remarried in 1957 to Katherine, a widow with 5 children. Glen worked for the town of High Prairie, then for the Alberta government maintenance department. In 1960, he began a job on the Alaska Highway as maintenance equipment operator for the Canadian Army. Fourteen years later, when Glen was disabled, he and his wife retired in Sicamous BC.

Source: Where the Red Willow Grew pp. 420-422 Photo pp. 420 and 421
Grande Prairie Herald Tribune – June 13, 1940 p. 6 c. 4 (marries)
Grande Prairie Herald Tribune – June 23, 1956 p. 3 c. 5 (wife dies)

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.

Soldier Spotlight: Lieutenant Donald Patterson

Image: Archie Mathieson’s birthday celebration taken in Patterson’s front yard. D. W. Patterson (2nd from left) and Dr. L. O’Brien (far right). 1952 (SPRA 152.01.01)

Regimental Number: 301968
Rank: Lieutenant
Branch: Canadian Field Artillery

Donald was born on March 20, 1888 in Auburn, Ontario. He got his teacher’s training in Regina and studied law at the University of Alberta. Donald enlisted in the Canadian army in October of 1915 and arrived in France in July of 1916. He was in the Ypres salient until August 24, then at “Dead Dog Farm” near Kemmel until September or October. From there he moved to the Somme and Arras. On March 8, 1917 Donald arrived at Careney, where supplies were being piled for Vimy Ridge. He had to count 36,000 rounds of ammunition. While at Careney, Donald witnessed the Red Baron take down multiple observation balloons, and the whole battery was strafed by the Red Baron. To his knowledge, no one was killed. In his memoirs, Donald notes that graves were dug for the expected casualties in preparation for Vimy Ridge. On April 6, 1917 Donald got a bullet in the back of his neck; he was sent to a hospital in Manchester. While recovering there, he told a minister – “I wouldn’t go across the road to fight for the King. I’m fighting for my country. What has the king ever done?” In September or October of 1917, Donald’s regiment was moved from Vimy to Passchendaele. In June of 1918 he was sent back to England to train for his commission and did not return to France. He was sent back to Canada in January of 1919. Donald met a lawyer in Calgary who worked in Grande Prairie and eventually moved here to set up his practice. He also served as Grande Prairie’s mayor. Donald filed on the following homesteads: 18-73-7-W6; 11-73-8-W6; 14-72-1-W6; 7-72-26-W5; 19-72-11-W6. In January of 1923, Donald married Rose Devlin. He died on October 27, 1971.

Sources: surname index; see our Family Names database for more clippings; memoir

Rose & D.W. Patterson on their wedding day, January 1, 1923. (SPRA 152.02.01.01)

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.

Soldier Spotlight: George Telford Cameron

Image: The returning Sexsmith soldiers after WWII. Back – Bill Card, Dan Rycroft, Simon Haakstad, Jack Campbell, Andy Innes, George Cameron, Dale Harris, T. Copeland, Samuelson. Middle – J. Bond, G. Gerow, E. McDonald, G. Rix, Scotty Boyd, J. Siluch, Bryce Burns, L. Rasmussan, D. McNaughton, T. Forsythe Front – Jack Waters, H. Knight, B.Brown, L. White, C. Foote, C. Thomson, D. Wright, B. Murray, G. Kusyk, B. Moody, G. McQuitty, J. Thorpe. Photographer’s stamp: Art Craft, Grande Prairie, Alta. 1945 (SPRA 644.01.08)

George Cameron was the stepson of William Umbach, and his step-brother was Norman Umbach who also served in WW II. In 1933 he moved (from Edmonton) to Sexsmith AB, taking a position at Sexsmith Supplies Ltd. Also he took over the hardware and machinery in the L. C. Howard Hardware Store in Sexsmith which his step-father purchased in 1930 for George and Norman. Being a hockey goalie previously in Calgary and Edmonton, he joined the Sexsmith Hockey Club, and soon became the manager. George was married in 1936 to Gertha Hillman of Sexsmith, and they had 2 daughters, Donna and Heather. After serving in the Armed Forces in WW II from 1940 to 1945, George returned to Sexsmith and the hardware business, which he eventually sold in 1956. George was active in social and athletic activities, especially baseball. Gertha died in 1971. Remarrying in 1978 to Dorothy McDonald (McMillan), George and his new wife moved to Fort Saskatchewan AB. He passed away at age 71, in 1981, in Fort Saskatchewan.

Source: Wagon Trails Grown Over p. 715, p. 1149 – name in Roll of Honour, p. 1162 – Photo
AGS Website – Obituary Index
Northern Tribune Oct. 26, 1933 p. 4 c. 1
Northern Tribune Feb. 8, 1934 p. 4 c. 2
Northern Tribune Sept 3, 1936 p. 4,7 c. 1,4

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.