The Enabler

Lieutenant Colonel Dr. David C. McKenzie
141st (Border Bull Moose) Battalion

It is unfortunately clear that members of the battalion are using drugs, and I am of the opinion that neither Lieut. Col. McKenzie nor Captain George are making any effort to check this pernicious and demoralizing habit.

(Gen. H. N. Ruttan to GOC, MD 10, 21 Apr 1917)

 Born on 30 October 1871 in Hamilton Ontario, David Croal McKenzie was a militiaman, municipal politician and physician. He started a medical practice in the Rainy River District after graduating from the University of Toronto in 1897 and established the first private hospital at Fort Frances in 1902. He was later a six-term mayor of Fort Frances (1906, 1913, 1914, 1915 and 1919).

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The Auditor

Lieutenant Colonel A. C. Kemmis
13th Canadian Mounted Rifles

Confidentially Kemmis is a drunken incompetent and his appointment will be regarded [as a] joke.

(R.B. Bennett to Borden, 14 Dec 1914)

The son of a British Army officer, Arthur Charles Kemmis was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick on 10 February 1874. He spent his youth in England and Ireland before returning to Canada in the 1890s. He moved west to establish a law practice at Pincher Creek. He formed the 23rd Alberta Rangers in 1910. In December 1914, Kemmis was authorized to organize the 13th Mounted Rifles based in his hometown.

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The Governor General

Major Georges Vanier, D.S.O., M.C.
22nd (Royal French Canadians) Battalion

I need not tell you that after the shock of losing a leg and the consequent inaction I am not in good condition.

 I am happy at the thought that I had the courage to return to my boys in 1916 and that God gave me the strength of body and mind to do my duty under fire. It is a tremendous consolation that will comfort me until my dying day.

 (Vanier to Mother, 13 May 1919)

Georges-Philéas Vanier was one of Canada’s most well-known veterans of the First World War. He became a high-ranking military officer, diplomat and 19th Governor General of Canada. Born in Montreal on 23 April 1888, Vanier was a graduate of Université Laval and a lawyer. In early 1915, he helped organize the 22nd Battalion under the command of F. M. Gaudet. After four years in the trenches, he had been shell shocked, multiple times wounded and lost his right leg.

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The Banker’s Son

Lieutenant Colonel Hugh F. Osler
174th (Cameron Highlanders) Battalion

It makes me mad to see hundreds of fit men, a great many of whom can undoubtedly be spared, walking about and going to picture shows, without any thought of enlisting, when ten thousand of their fellow Canadians are either giving up their lives or being wounded every month.

(Hugh Osler to Edmund Osler, 8 Nov 1916)

Born in Toronto on 17 November 1881, Hugh Farquharson Osler was the son of Edmund Boyd Osler (1845—1924), prominent financier, banker and Tory politician. The elder Osler was Conservative MP for Toronto West between 1896 and 1917. After graduating from the Royal Military College, Hugh moved to Winnipeg where he worked for a corporate investment firm.

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The Athlete

Lieutenant Colonel C. W. MacLean
207th (MacLean’s Athletes) Battalion

We are about to enter into that phase of our career for which we were organized. Our next step takes us overseas where we shall await the call that sends us to the front. When the call comes—it will find us ready and eager, and fit—due to the hard work and enthusiasm of every member of the Battalion.

(MacLean, The Whiz Bang, 18 Nov 1916, No. 20, 1)

Born in Lachine, Quebec on 18 November 1876, Charles Wesley MacLean was a farmer in Pointe Claire and mayor of Brockville. A member of the 13th Scottish Light Dragoons, he first raised the 2nd Reserve Park, C.A.S.C., which he took to England in May 1915. After returning back to Canada, in February 1916 he was authorized to organize the 207th Battalion from Ottawa-Carleton. A noted athlete, football player, swimmer and champion oarsman before the war, MacLean encouraged sports and competition for the 207th.

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The Francophone

Brigadier General Tommy Tremblay
22nd (Royal French Canadians) Battalion

I am confident that the French Canadians will defend all their trenches with fierce vigour and will hold on at any price, even the price of death. Let us not forget that we represent an entire race and that many things—the very honour of French Canada—depend upon the manner in which we conduct ourselves. Our ancestors bequeathed to us a brave and glorious past that we must respect and equal. Let us uphold our beautiful old traditions.

 (Tremblay, Diary, 1916)

Thomas-Louis Tremblay would prove to be the 22nd Battalion’s most famous commanding officer. Notorious for his strict discipline, he was determined to prove the only all French-Canadian unit serving in the field was the finest in the CEF. Born in Chicoutimi, Quebec on 16 May 1886, he was a graduate of the Royal Military College, a civil engineer and member of the 1st Canadian Field Artillery.

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