The Legacy

Lieutenant Colonel G. T. Denison †
2nd Division Cyclist CompanyDenison

Lieut.-Col. Denison’s death is a great personal loss to me as an old friend. It must be a splendid satisfaction to his family to know he upheld the traditions of the first military family in Canada. As to the loss to Col. Denison, I can only say that when I left him this morning he was bearing his grief like a Christian gentleman and a soldier.

(Crown Attorney Seymour Corley, Toronto Star, 15 May 1917, 2)

On 8 May 1917, George Taylor Denison IV was killed in action at the battle of Fresnoy. His father, Toronto police magistrate Colonel George Taylor Denison III (1839—1925) was a long-time Conservative militia leader, imperialist activist and patriarch of one of the city’s most influential Loyalist families. When the death of Denison was announced during a session of his father’s police court, the elder judge sat motionless before quietly exiting to his chambers. He was later heard to remark, that his son “would wish no better death than to die for his country.”

DenisonBorn on 12 November 1869, Denison Jr. was a graduate of Upper Canada College and a member of the Governor General’s Body Guards. In May 1915, he raised a cyclist company, which he led to England with the rank of lieutenant colonel. After his unit was absorbed into the Corps Cyclist Battalion, Denison reverted to serve in France. He joined the 19th Battalion at the rank of major in command of “A” company.

As a token of respect, many of the soldiers in Denison’s company continued to refer to him by his old rank, lieutenant colonel. After the battle of Vimy Ridge, he wrote to his father, “I was lucky to get through.” One month later, he died defending the recently captured village of Fresnoy against German counter attacks. Denison was one of 11 officers and 225 men killed or wounded in the 19th Battalion during the battle.

Digitized Service File (LAC):

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