The Home Wrecker

Lieutenant Colonel L.J. Whitaker
3rd Canadian Mounted Rifles

The plaintiff [Mr. Hill] charges that the defendant [Col. Whitaker] alienated his wife’s affections and has broken up his home.

(Lethbridge Herald, 10 May 1917, 4)

Born in Staffordshire, England on 19 January 1869, Louis James Whitaker was a Fort Saskatchewan dry goods merchant and commanding officer of the 19th Alberta Dragoons. He had belonged to the Manchester Volunteers before immigrating to Canada. In December 1914, he was appointed to command the 3rd Canadian Mounted Rifles from Alberta. He served for four months in the trenches before the 3rd CMR was disbanded on the reorganization of the Mounted Rifles Brigades in January 1916.

He returned to Alberta in March 1916 and was briefly connected with the organization of the 218th (Irish Guards) Battalion before assuming a staff position with No. 13 Military District headquarters. He resigned a year later. Around that time, in February 1917, the local press reported that Whitaker and a woman had been arrested in the United States.

In May 1917, the woman’s husband, George Stephen Hill, a Fort Saskatchewan storekeeper, sued Whitaker for $50,000 in damages, accusing the colonel of having an affair with his wife. The plaintiff alleged that after Whitaker left with the 3rd CMR for England, Mrs. Hill ran away to the United States. George Hill later learned that she and Whitaker had carried on a correspondence while the colonel was overseas. When Whitaker returned from England, he met Mrs. Hill in the United States and the couple went to Calgary. Passing themselves off as cousins, they went back to the United States in February en route to Los Angeles. Suspicious American immigration agents telegraphed George Hill about the curious movements of his wife. Hill instructed authorities to detain the pair.

When the couple was sent back to Canada, Mr. Hill brought his law suit against Whitaker. A Calgary court dismissed the case five months later as Hill was unable to prove he had been legally married to his wife in the first place.

Whitaker died in British Columbia on 2 May 1946.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s