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: 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: 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: 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)

Soldier Spotlight: Private Andrew Bisson

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

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

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

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

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

Soldier Spotlight: Douglas Blackie

Douglas Blackie (Memories & Moments p. 276)

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

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

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

Soldier Spotlight: William Adair

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

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

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

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

Soldier Spotlight: John Spry

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

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

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

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

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

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

Soldier Spotlight: Alexander Atkinson

Photograph: Bergen-Op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery

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 Engineers
Regimental Number: M17553
Rank: Corporal

Alexander Atkinson was born in Togo, Saskatchewan on December 30, 1908. His father was Albert Edward Atkinson. He lived in the Kleskun Hill and Clairmont area of Alberta since 1934 and was a farmer and a driver. At age 32, on June 23, 1940, he enlisted to serve in WWII. Alexander was married to Abbie Alice (Atkinson). He was killed in action in the Netherlands on November 1, 1944, and is buried in the Bergen-Op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery (Grave Ref: 10.B.3)

A page from Alexander Atkinson’s service file

Soldier Spotlight: Eva Nadkrynechny

Photograph: Tatiana & Alex Nadkrynechny with daughters Anne and Eva, ca. 1932.  Source: Where the Red Willow Grew, p. 558

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.

Eva Nadkrynechny was born on January 26, 1926 in Reshnivka, Ukraine which was occupied by Poland at the time. Eva immigrated to Canada with her parents and sister in 1929, landing in Halifax on April 1. After travelling to Edmonton, they went to Glendon where her father had put a down payment on a farm. After three years, they couldn’t make the payments on the land and they left. Her father then filed for homestead in Sunset House, southwest of High Prairie. The family came to High Prairie in the spring of 1932 and traveled to the homestead along the “winter trail.”

In 1936, the family moved to Edmonton and Eva and her sister went to a regular school. Eva was an excellent student. In the spring of 1938 the family returned to Sunset House. After walking to High Prairie for her mother to receive her Canadian Citizenship certificate, Eva’s brother. Ken, was born. In June, Eva wrote the grade eight departmental exam and completed her education. That fall, Eva moved to High Prairie to work. She sent money and clothes back to her family.

Eva enlisted in the RCAF (WD) and graduated at the head of her photography class. She also completed high school. Eva spent the war in Rockcliffe, Ontario, working in air mapping. After being honourably discharged, Eva worked as a pattern and style designer in the textile industry and at the time of her death in 1977, she was teaching at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario.

Eva passed away on January 20, 1977 at MacMaster Hospital. She was predeceased by her husband, Ted Murray.

Sources:
The Military Service Recognition Book, Vol. VI (p.245)
Where The Red Willow Grew (p.557)