Lieutenant Colonel George B. McLeod
63rd (Edmonton) Battalion
Every consideration should be given to the question of sentiment and it is well to encourage the idea of community of interest among the people of a certain locality. If a certain battalion is known as an Edmonton battalion, or an Alberta battalion… those who remain behind and those who have gone forward, have an interest in what that battalion is doing that he otherwise would not have had, and ignoring of that fact has tended very greatly against rapid recruiting in many parts of the country.
(Frank Oliver, Debates, 8 May 1916, 3589)
George Brown McLeod was born in Guelph, Ontario on 3 March 1870. He moved west in 1901 in order to pursue business interests in Edmonton. A member of the 101st Fusiliers, McLeod first enlisted as a captain with the 31st Battalion. He later became second-in-command of the 51st before receiving a promotion to lieutenant colonel in order to raise the 63rd from Edmonton.
A respected businessman, McLeod was active in Edmonton civic life and president of the local Liberal Party Association. The Edmonton Bulletin praised the 63rd as “distinctly an Edmonton organization.” The newspaper had high hopes for the local unit declaring, “A splendid esprit d’corps has been established and the assurance that the battalion will leave the city as a unit and will not be broken up any more into drafts as reinforcements for other older regiment, speaks well for the fine organization that has been established…”
Nevertheless, after arriving in England in April 1916, the 63rd provided reinforcement drafts before it was absorbed into the reserves. McLeod reverted in summer 1917 to serve in France. He returned to Canada in 1919 to become an Alberta police magistrate.
A constant critic of the Borden Government’s recruitment methods, Liberal MP Frank Oliver explained that the breakup of Edmonton battalions, “is not a good way to inspire our population with a desire for service.”
In 1919, McLeod served as chairman during the Liberal convention to nominate Frank Oliver for his old seat of Edmonton West following his defeat in the wartime election. In 1935, McLeod stood as the Liberal candidate in the riding of Edmonton East. He ran against fellow CEF colonel Peter E. Bowen, the Conservative. In the result on 14 October, both lost to the Social Credit candidate.