The Hockey Pioneer

Major Lennox Irving
240th (Renfrew) Battalion

We have the best type of manhood in the world in our brave troop fighting somewhere or everywhere in France. To appreciate even in the slightest degree, one mast see the heroes as they go into the trenches, go over the parapet, facing fearful odds, and then see them at their rest camps preparing for a great attack.

(Maj. Irving, Ottawa Journal, 11 Aug 1917, 16)

After the formation of the 240th Battalion, former 42nd Regiment commanding officer, fifty-three year old Lennox Irving came out of retirement to serve as second-in-command to Lieutenant Edgar John Watt. Born in Renfrew, Canada West on 16 May 1863, Irving was a barrister, militiaman and early hockey pioneer. While a student at Queen’s University, he participated in the first hockey game against the Royal Military College in 1886. Irving scored the lone goal to give Queen’s the victory. The two schools compete for the Carr-Harris Challenge Cup every year to commemorate this first hockey game.

Irving also played for the earliest hockey team from Pembroke and became a noted lawyer and barrister. A long-time member of the 42nd Regiment, he served as commanding officer from 1901 until he retired to the reserve list in 1905.

During spring and summer 1916, Watt and Lennox struggled to gather volunteers for the 240th Battalion from the counties of Lanark, Renfrew and Frontenac. With less than 400 men, the 240th sailed for England where it was broken up for reinforcement drafts to the 38th (Ottawa) Battalion.

Following a brief posting to the 38th in April 1917, Irving reported back to those at home: “Canadians have made an enviable name for themselves in their brilliant achievements many times in France and at Vimy Ridge, which battle now famous In history.” He returned to the Ottawa region in August 1917 and relocated to Victoria, British Columbia after the war.

Despite the short existence of the battalion, Watt organized a reunion for surviving 240th veterans in 1931. At the gathering, Watt “remarked that the presence of so many former members of the battalion was proof of then, during nature of those friendships, formed during the dark days.” Irving made the trip from Victoria to attend the reunion of his old unit. He died on 10 November 1938.


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