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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Charles & Phoebe Buck

Image: Homestead home of Charles William Buck, 1910 (SPRA 298.01)

Charles William Buck

Regimental Number: 1352, 300485
Rank: Private; Gunner
Branch: 2nd King Edwards Horse; British Tank Corps

Charles William Buck was born in 1886. He and his younger brother emigrated to Canada. On August 12,1910 Charles filed on N.E. 32-72-8 W6 and also on a 1/2 section of South African Script -S 1/2 33-72-8 W6. On his return from WWl, on July 3, 1918, he filed on N.E. 6-74-8 W6. His farm was called Poplar Grove Farm in the Lake Saskatoon district. He enlisted with the British military in WWl as a private with the 2nd King Edwards Horse (1352), later becoming a gunner in the Tank Corps (300485). He returned to Canada a sick man after the war, married to Phoebe “Cis” Lawrence, an English nurse, who followed him back to Lake Saskatoon. It was understood that he had been badly gassed during the war. In a letter from the farm to his sister Edith Mary, dated 12 February 1920, Charles said he was staying with a Mrs. Moore. He had been ill for over a year and intended to apply to the military doctor in Edmonton for help. He died on March 4, 1920 and was buried in the St. Andrew’s Anglican Church Cemetery. Charles’ widow, Phoebe Elizabeth (Lawrence) Buck, married Norman Anderson in 1921.

Sources: Lake Saskatoon Reflections p. 11, 95

Phoebe Elizabeth Lawrence Buck Anderson

Rank: Nurse
Branch: Medical Corps

Phoebe Elizabeth Lawrence was born in Stourbridge, England in 1878. She married Charles Buck in England on March 11, 1918 and followed him home to Canada after the war. Charles had been badly gassed during the war and died in 1920. Phoebe married Norman Anderson in 1921. In the mid-twenties she operated a post office and store on their farm (6-74-8-W6) while her husband hauled the mail to Lake Saskatoon from Wembley. Phoebe died in January of 1963.

Sources: Lake Saskatoon Reflections p. 95

Charles Buck in uniform, 1915 (SPRA 298.34)

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: Corporal Charles Sims

Image: Charles, Edith, and their children, ca. 1926 (SPRA fonds 670)

Regimental Number: 10784; 373463
Rank: Corporal
Regiment: 2nd Sherwood Foresters; Army Service Corps

Charles “Harry” Sims was born on February 18, 1890 in Spondon, Derbyshire, England. He joined the Sherwood Foresters at the age of 18. He fought in the battles at Mons and Aisne, where his foot was injured. On February 22, 1915 he was discharged from the army because of his injuries, but in 1918 he reenlisted as a truck driver. On June 23, 1921, Charles married Edith Annie Puckering. Charles had developed malaria while stationed in Malta and his doctor told him his lungs could no longer handle the moist English air. In 1926, he, his wife, and their three children (Edith was also pregnant with twins at the time) sailed to Canada and settled east of Grande Prairie, where Charles had been given land by the Soldier Settlement Plan. His land was located at NW 28-79-13-W6. They eventually moved to Magrath, Alberta, where Charles died on July 25, 1975.

Sources: Smoky River to Grande Prairie p. 236; a few news 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: Sapper Reginald Vaughn Baird

Image: Two trucks on a hairpin turn on the Alaska Highway, 1945 (SPRA 1994.10.1c)

Regimental Number: 105493
Rank: Sapper
Branch: Canadian Railway Troops

Reginald was born in England on May 31, 1898 (he wrote 1897 on his attestation paper, but a letter in his service file corrects this information). It is unknown when he first came to Canada, but he enlisted in Regina in December of 1915. His brother William served in the British Army. Reginald was received gunshot wounds to his left arm on October 5, 1916 at the Somme. In 1919, he filed on the eastern half of 31-71-10-W6 and NW 36-71-11-W6. On November 18, 1931, Reginald married Alpha Thoreson. They had no children. Reginald served in the Canadian Army in World War II. After he returned, the Bairds moved to Vancouver where Reginald started a business hauling sawdust from the mills to homes that heated with sawdust. He eventually sold this business and went up the Alaska Highway as a carpenter for the Air Force. Alpha died in Dawson Creek. For a time, Reginald moved back to the west coast, but he eventually returned to Beaverlodge where he died in 1970.

Sources: Beaverlodge to the Supplement p. 16

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: Nursing Sister Edith Fredette

Image: Group photograph of the Grande Prairie Ladies’ Curling Club posed with rocks and brooms. Edith is second from right in the back row. ca. 1925 (SPRA 032.08.08.0767)

Regimental Number: 8547
Rank: Nursing Sister
Branch: No. 5 Canadian General Hospital, Canadian Army Medical Corps

Edith Louise Hibbs was born on November 14, 1889 in Montreal and was a nurse living in London when she signed up for military service in September of 1915. Her attestation paper describes her as having fair hair and blue eyes. Edith served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps and was soon sent to Malta, where the conditions coupled with the climate took a toll on soldiers and medical staff alike. Edith was no exception. She contracted malaria in November of 1916 and is noted as being sick with it at least four more times. Edith also saw service in Turkey and the Dardanelles. She was discharged from service after her last bout with it in 1917. Edith was then invalided back to England where she continued to work in the hospitals for the duration of the war. Edith was awarded the Royal Red Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on April 28, 1919 – an honour that was awarded in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth for exceptional services in military nursing. Edith came to the Peace Country upon a request made to her by Dr. Lewis J. O’Brien, whom she had met during her military service. Dr. O’Brien offered Edith the job of matron of the Katherine Prittie Hospital in Grande Prairie. Edith agreed and left her job at Summerland, B.C. Conditions were primitive at the log pioneer hospital that had no running water or power and a telephone that shut off at midnight. In 1929 a new hospital was built with a larger capacity, improved facilities, and modern equipment. Edith continued in her old position becoming the first matron of the new hospital. In 1929, Edith married the local veterinarian Dr. Louis Fredette and gave up her position as matron. They had a daughter, Hope. Louis died in 1960 and Edith in 1964.

Source: Grande Prairie: Capitol of the Peace p. 97

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 Frederick Anderton

Image: Notes about Frederick’s military career from his military service file (Library & Archives Canada)

Regimental Number: 2684153
Rank: Corporal (reverted from Corporal to Private on June 24, 1918)
Branch: RNWMP; Canadian Light Horse

Frederick was born on December 17, 1889 in Claybrook, England. Prior to coming to Canada, he served with the Leicestershire Constabulary from 1910 until 1912. He joined the RNWMP at Regina on August 9, 1913 and continued to serve until 1937, apart from the time spent in the army during World War I. In 1915 he went to Fort Good Hope in search of two priests who were thought to have been murdered. At this time he was a sergeant in the Grande Prairie Detachment of the RNWMP. He enlisted in the RNWMP unit in 1918 and went overseas to serve in France. He arrived exactly one month before the Armistice and saw action in France and Belgium before being discharged on March 13, 1919. Anderton Channel in the NWT was named after him. Frederick died in Surrey, BC on October 20, 1974.

Source: Grande Prairie: Capitol of the Peace p. 56; RCMP Graves Database

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.