The Knight

Lieutenant Colonel Sir William Price
171st (Rifles of Quebec) BattalionWPrice

Anything to which Sir William puts his hand will be carried out with energy, enthusiasm and efficiency. His past record is a guarantee of that. Consequently we can be confident that there will soon be a really representative Quebec regiment in the field to uphold the honor of the Ancient Capital on the fighting line.

(Quebec Chronicle, 23 Dec 1915, 4)

William Price was a Quebec millionaire and businessman in the lumber and pulp industries. He was born on 30 August 1867 in Talca, Chile, where his Quebec-born father worked raising livestock and breeding cattle. After being sent to Quebec as a child, he was educated in England and returned to the province to work in the family lumber business, Price Brothers and Company Limited.

During the Boer War, he raised two companies of volunteers to fight in South Africa. Following a failed attempted to win a seat in the House of Commons during the 1904 federal election, he won a 1908 by-election in Quebec West for the Conservative Party. He was defeated in 1911.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Militia Minister Sam Hughes selected Price to construct the infrastructure for the Canadian Expeditionary Force camp at Valcartier, Quebec in August 1914. He was responsible for building the water mains and pumps to supply the camp. As tens of thousands of volunteers arrived to the camp, Price managed the transportation of troops and equipment for overseas deployment. In January 1915, he received a knighthood for his work in organizing the First Contingent from Valcartier.

In late 1915, Hughes appointed Price to raise the 171st Battalion from Quebec. Raoul Renault, Nationalist editor of Le Franc-parleur, bitterly complained that an English-speaking officer commanded a French-Canadian unit.

Once the 171st was disorganized in early 1917, Price reverted to the rank of captain and proceeded to France in an administrative position. After the war, Price continued to manage his successful timber company. He died in a work accident on 2 October 1924. While inspecting a lumberyard, he was swept away and killed by a sudden landslide.

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