Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Blondin, M.P.
258th (Canadien-Français) Battalion
Sir Wilfrid Laurier: I cannot give him a better answer than this: Mr. Blondin took off his coat—
Sir Sam Hughes: Pardon me, Colonel Blondin.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier: I stand corrected. There are so many colonels in this country that I had forgotten one. I am blessed with a pretty good memory, but there is a limit even to counting, and I do not know whether the ex-minister himself knows how many honorary colonels he has appointed. But let that pass.
(Debates, 18 June 1917, 2400)
Pierre Édouard Blondin was Conservative MP for Champlain and prominent French-Canadian minister in the Borden Cabinet. He was born on 14 December 1874 in St-François du Lac, Quebec. First elected to parliament in 1908, he became Minster of Revenue in 1914 and Secretary of State in 1915 before being appointed Postmaster General.
Brigadier General W. A. Griesbach, D.S.O.
49th (Edmonton Regiment) Battalion
I had an idea at one time, that after the war over half of the Canadian parliament would be men who had served in the war. I had an idea that it would be hardly possible for a man to be elected to parliament who had not served his country in the war on active service. Yet in the present parliament we have in the commons some nine men out of 235—no I beg pardon, 234, for one is a woman—who have served overseas.
(Griesbach speech, Ottawa Citizen, 3 May 1923, 3)
William Antrobus Griesbach was an Edmonton barrister, Conservative political figure and member of the 19th Alberta Dragoons. He was born in Fort Qu’Appelle, North-West Territories on 3 January 1878. A veteran of the Boer War, he was authorized to raise the 49th Battalion In January 1915. By October 1915, Griesbach and his Edmonton volunteers had deployed to France as part of the 7th Infantry Brigade in the 3rd Canadian Division.
Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Urquhart, D.S.O.
43rd (Cameron Highlanders of Canada) Battalion
There remains but to refer lightly to the characteristics typical of the Canadian soldier in that crisis which probed into the innermost recesses of character. This is not to claim that the Canadian possessed merits not shared by his comrades in arms everywhere; the soldierly virtues is the birthright of the true fighting man in all lands. But the soldiers of the Dominion exhibited those instincts in their own way. They were hidden under an exterior of independence, which sometimes misled the casual observer as to the soldierly spirit, potent in its strength, lying beneath this mask.
(Urquhart, History of the 16th Battalion CEF, 1932, 332)
A native of Scotland, Hugh McIntyre Urquhart was born on 13 August 1880 and immigrated to Canada in 1909. He originally enlisted with the 16th Battalion at Valcartier in August 1914. In recognition for his courage in the field, he was awarded the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order.
Major Ian Sinclair, D.S.O., M.C.
13th (Royal Highlanders of Canada) Battalions
I thought my nerves might give if I ever ran into an affair of that sort, but something seemed to change in me and I saw without any particular sensation things happen, which in my previous state of mind would have driven me mad. One of my men actually did go crazy this morning after we got out. Every battalion in the division suffered about as much and the whole is pretty wrecked.
(Sinclair, 13th Bn., to Mother, 28 Apr 1915)
Ian MacIntosh Roe Sinclair sailed for England as a subaltern with the 13th Battalion in October 1914. Over four years later, he returned to Canada at the head of the battalion. Though wounded in the fighting at the second battle of Ypres, he was promoted to company commander. After Lieutenant Colonel Eric McCuaig was elevated to the 12th Brigade on 14 September 1918, Sinclair became temporary commanding officer.
Brigadier General Huntly Ketchen
6th Infantry Brigade
Gather round, boys, I want to have a little talk with you. You’ve been under my command about nine months now, and I’ve always been proud of you, and now you are going up the line, and I want to say this to you: Don’t go up with any idea that you are going to be killed—we want you all to take care of yourselves and not expose yourselves recklessly.
And remember a dead man is no use to us, we want you alive, and when we want you to put your heads up, we’ll tell you! And I’ve no doubt that you will only be too eager.
(Ketchen’s Speech, quoted in Pte. Jack O’Brien, Into the Jaws of Death, 1919, 54)
The son of an Indian Army officer, Huntly Douglas Brodie Ketchen was born in Sholopore, India on 22 May 1872. After graduating from the Royal Military College in Sandhurst, England, Ketchen moved to Canada, joined the North West Mounted Police in 1894 and fought in the Boer War. He was appointed to lead the 6th Infantry Brigade in May 1915.
Lieutenant Colonel Fred Hamilton
126th (Peel) Battalion
I am quite sure that the officer commanding the Peel battalion, Colonel Hamilton, who has returned home, never thought that the breaking up of his battalion was any stain upon his military record. It was a policy adopted for military reasons, and a great many battalions had to come under the rule.
(Blain, Debates, 13 Jul 1917, 3377)
Frederick John Hamilton was a municipal politician, member of Orange Lodge No. 163 and militia major. Born on 14 July 1869 in Port Credit, Ontario, he was a six-term town alderman with twenty years’ experience in the 36th Regiment. In early 1916, he was authorized to raise the 126th Battalion from Peel County.
Honorary Colonel W. F. Cockshutt, M.P.&
Lieutenant Colonel M. E. B. Cutcliffe
125th (38th Regiment Dufferin Rifles) Battalion
The voluntary system as carried out, I think, has been a great credit to our people.
If it failed in any place, it failed because it was not pushed with sufficient vigour by the natural leaders of the people. And who are those leaders? The members of this House. The man who represents a constituency in this House is the first citizen in his riding, and he is the man who should have taken responsibility for recruiting in that riding.
(Cockshutt, Debates, 22 Jun 1917, 2601)
Authorized in November 1915, the 125th Battalion was initially to be raised by William Foster Cockshutt, Conservative MP for Brantford (1904—1908, 1911—1921). Recognizing his own limitations and lack of military experience, the sixty year-old parliamentarian turned over leadership to Captain Mostyn Elton Bluett Cutcliffe, senior officer of Dufferin Rifles.
Lieutenant Colonel A. Bruce Powley
143rd (B. C. Bantams) Battalion
…it has never appeared that the Commanding Officer was capable of a full and practical appreciation of the value of any branch of training.
Has shown little professional knowledge, energy or executive. Is inclined to say much of what he has done and what he intends to do, but to fall short in practice.
(OC No. 11 Military District to Militia Council, 9 Feb 1917)
Wounded at Festubert in May 1915, Alan Bruce Powley returned to recover and raise a new overseas battalion. Inspired by the 35th Bantam Division in the British Army, a number of British Columbia men below the minimum height requirement had petitioned Ottawa to create a similar unit. In November 1915, Powley was authorized to raise the 143rd Bantam Battalion consisting of volunteers under 5’4.
Lieutenant Colonel Jesse Wright
169th (109th Regiment) Battalion
“Vote for King,” shouted a man.
“There is a friend over there that says he is going to vote for Mr. King,” said Col Wright, pointing to a man in the hall. “But one King is enough for Canada. That is his majesty King George and not Mackenzie King who claims his ancestry from a man who was a blooming traitor” and Col. Wright sat down amid a storm of cheers and jeers.
(Toronto Star, 3 Dec 1921, 9)
Born on 9 July 1877 in Collingwood, Ontario, Jesse Green Wright was a Toronto druggist, member of Loyalist Orange Lodge No. 900 and militiaman. He had belonged to the Queen’s Own Rifles and the 12th York Rangers. After outbreak of the Great War, he joined the new 109th Regiment organized by William Thomas Stewart. In January 1916, Wright received authorization to raise the 169th Battalion from Toronto.