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.

Soldier Spotlight: Private John Finlay Watson

Image: A clipping from the Lake Saskatoon Journal, June 16, 1917

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: 437637; M56292
Rank: Private
Branch: 15th Battalion

Finlay was born in Belfast, Ireland on September 16, 1891. His parents immigrated to Canada with their nine children in 1908; Finlay filed on homesteads at NE 9-71-8-W6 and NW 33-70-8-W6 in 1910. In August of 1915, Finlay enlisted in the Canadian Army. His brother Robert also served during World War I. Finlay received a bayonet wound to his right leg at Vimy Ridge on April 30, 1917 when he went over the top and landed on a spiked bayonet (see his June 1917 letter for more details about the injury). He also suffered from accidental abrasions to his face and hands in August of 1917. Finlay’s wife was named Mabel. During World War II, Finlay served with the Veterans Guard at a POW camp in Lethbridge. He died there on February 2, 1945 and was buried in the Lake Saskatoon Cemetery.

Sources: additional news clippings, including those listed as Finlay; Pioneers of the Peace p. 119; Along the Wapiti p. 401, 411

Soldier Spotlight: Robert Watson

Image: Beaverlodge Experimental Substation staff, summer of 1930. Photographed by R. E. Leake. (SPRA 362.02.09.38)

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.

Robert Watson was born in County Down, Northern Ireland on July 19, 1894. Bert, as he was known, came to Canada with his parents in 1908 and settled in the Bonny Doon area of Edmonton. Bert went the high school in Strathcona and then attended the McTavish business college. He worked for Killen and Gilbert Real Estate for several years.

Bert enlisted in the 202nd Battalion in World War I and transferred to the artillery overseas. He was awarded a medal for saving a machine gun from burning. After the war he came to Grande Prairie and worked at the Beaverlodge Experimental Station.

In World II he was stationed at the Sergeant’s quarters and ordered supplies for the soldiers stationed there. After the war, Bert worked in the Land Office in Grande Prairie, then for the Government Appraisers for the Prairie Farm Assistance.

Bert passed away November 30, 1974.

Sources:
Along the Wapiti (p. 403)
Pioneers of the Peace (p. 119)
Lake Saskatoon Reflections (p. 32)

Soldier Spotlight: Private Henry Moss

Image: A page from Harry’s military service file, indicating at the bottom that he was “granted permission to marry” in July of 1918. (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 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: 1037322
Rank: Private
Branch: Canadian Forestry Corps

Harry was born in Monmouthshire, England on January 23, 1891. He was living in Kisbey, Saskatchewan at the time of his enlistment in August of 1916. In August of 1918, Harry married an Englishwoman named Margaret. He brought his young bride to his homestead in Saskatchewan, where their daughter was born. In 1923, Margaret and their daughter returned to England as farm life was difficult and his wife was ill and homesick; Harry planned to send for them once he got established. He came to the South Peace in 1928, and in 1930 filed on the northern half of 22-76-1-W6. Harry was reluctant to send for his family as conditions were still primitive and the nearest school for his daughter was twelve miles away. In 1935, another man with the surname Moss was killed in central Alberta. Harry’s brother and wife in England heard of it and assumed it was Harry, so they stopped writing. Harry was unaware of this and as Harry was not much of a writer, he lost contact with his family in England. Some years later, an inquiry for Henry J. Moss was printed in the Legionnaire (a magazine for war veterans) saying that a daughter was interested in his whereabouts. Harry replied to the inquirer and found that it was indeed his daughter, who was married and living in southern Alberta. Harry’s daughter traveled to Wanham to meet her father. When Harry retired from farming several years later, he moved to southern Alberta to be nearer his daughter and four grandchildren.

Sources: Grooming the Grizzly p. 450

Soldier Spotlight: Jack Dorscheid

Image: A six horse team hauling lumber along the Wapiti River in February, 1938. This team worked for the Moon Bros. Mill, south of Bezanson.  Jack worked with Charlie Moon for a number of years (SPRA 1969.60.998)

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.

Force: Army Medical Corps

Jack Dorscheid was born in 1909 to Mr and Mrs Anton Dorscheid on their farm in Windom, Minnesota USA. In 1921 he and his family, including 3 younger brothers, moved to Canada and settled on a homestead in the Glen Leslie AB area. Jack’s older sister and husband had already moved to the area. Jack and 2 of his brothers attended the Crystal Creek School. In July 1930 Jack married Myrtle Dixon, a teacher from Beaverlodge. Sadly his wife died of scarlet fever in June 1931. He later married Bernice Ames from Bezanson, and they had 2 sons, Larry and Jerry. During the 1930’s Jack farmed and raised cattle. When WW II broke out he enlisted in 1940 or 1941 with the Army Medical Corps, being posted in England, and he was discharged in 1945. (His brothers Earl and Charles also served in the war. Charles was killed in action.) After the war, Jack farmed the original homestead in Glen Leslie with his brother Earl. To make ends meet, the 2 men had a sawmill business over several winters using Charlie Moon’s mill north of Crooked Creek. Eventually Jack worked for Grande Prairie Lumber Co. building roads and running a saw mill. The next year, he became a foreman at a saw mill owned by his brother Earl and Phil Nilsson. Another winter he was foreman at Norton’s cat outfit cutting lines for oil companies. In 1959 Jack was elected county councilor, serving in this position for 6 years. He was chairman of the of the Agricultural Service Board, on the County Planning and Hospital Board, named to municipal and school committees, and was warden of East Smoky Parks. Indeed he was very busy, and he resigned of his duties in 1965. For a few more years he returned to farming, ranching and enjoying family life. He died suddenly in 1973. His wife Bernice died in 2001.

Source: Smoky River to Grande Prairie p. 426
Herald Tribune – June 19, 1931 p. 1. c. 1 (wife’s death); July 25, 1930 p. 5 c. 4 (married); June 16, 1959 p. 1 c. 1 (county); April 5, 1960 p. 1 c. 5 (Agr. Serv. Bd.)

Soldier Spotlight: Private Raymond Pellerin

Image: The Pellerin garden covered in snow in August 1935. (SPRA 116.09.01.01.164)

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: 154954
Rank: Private
Branch: 1st Canadian Pioneer Battalion; 16th Battalion; Canadian Forestry Corps

Ray was born in Leroy, North Dakota on January 9, 1896. He came to the Peace Country with his parents, Napoleon and Lucy, in 1913. Ray filed on homesteads at the following locations: 19-75-2-W6; 36-73-2-W6; 24-75-3-W6; 22-71-5-W6. In 1915, he and a friend built a raft to go down the river to Watino, at that point the end of the railroad, to get the train to Edmonton where they could enlist. The raft was upset in the river and they lost their belongings, so they had to continue on foot. Ray received a gunshot wound to his left hand at Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917. After the war, he returned to his land in the South Peace. Ray married Jean Floener on November 22, 1922. The couple had three sons. Ray died on December 26, 1972 and was buried in the Grande Prairie cemetery.

Sources: Centennial Celebration Edson Trail p. 97, 119; Smoky River to Grande Prairie p. 231; Across the Smoky p. 159; Pioneers of the Peace p. 312

A page from Ray’s military service file with details about his injury at Vimy Ridge on April 9,1917.  (Source: Library & Archives Canada)

Soldier Spotlight: Morris & Edith Burroughs

Image: Dedication of the Cenotaph in the new village park at Eaglesham, Alberta on September 11, 1978. Members of Eaglesham Sauve #235 left to right: John Pazuik, Ed Trudel, Morris Burroughs, George Meunier, Norman Barnhardt. Photograph taken by Gary Lachance, Eaglesham, Alberta. (SPRA 328.02)

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.

Mary Edith Larkin Burroughs

Regiment: Royal Canadian Air Force – Women’s Division
Regimental Number: W 304957
Rank: Corporal
Force: Air Force

Edith was born on April 10, 1923 in St. Peter’s Bay, Prince Edward Island.  On June 18, 1942 at the age of 18 she enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Montreal, Quebec. Her postings included Rockcliffe, Ontario; Mt. Joli, St. Hubert, and Montreal in Quebec; and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Edith was discharged on October 2, 1945. After the war, she trained to be a registered nurse.  On July 12, 1951 Edith married Morris Lee Burroughs in Grande Prairie. The couple settled in Eaglesham and farmed land that Morris received from the veteran’s lease. They raised 5 children: Elizabeth, Margaret, Shaun, Chris, and Kathleen. From 1970 to 1972 Edith resumed her nursing career in the Spirit River hospital. Unfortunately their house burned down in 1975, but was rebuilt with the help of neighbors and friends. Edith and Morris sold their farm in 1988 and retired in Grande Prairie.

Source: Smoky Peace Triangle pp. 156-158 (photo p. 157)

Oral History Description

Morris Lee Burroughs

Regiment: Canadian Parachute Corps
Regimental Number: M 8970
Rank: Private
Force: Army

Morris Burroughs was the son of Lee and Margaret Burroughs,  born on December 19, 1923, in Hafford, Saskatchewan. He settled in the Peace Country with his family in 1937, and they farmed in Codesa. Morris joined the Canadian Parachute Corps at the age of 19. His postings included Camrose, Alberta and northwestern Europe.  He was discharged in February of 1946. Morris obtained a veteran’s lease on the western half of 10-26-W5 in Eaglesham area. In the winters, he worked out at logging camps and later at oil rigs. On July 12, 1951 he married Edith Larkin in Grande Prairie, and they settled on his homestead. After being hailed out in July of 1969, Morris hauled water for rigs in Red Earth. In 1975, their house burned down, and it was rebuilt by the help of friends and neighbors. In 1988, the Burroughs retired in Grande Prairie. Morris died at age 86 in September 2010 in Grande Prairie.

Source: Smoky Peace Triangle pp. 156-158 (photo p. 157)