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.

Nicknamed, MacLean’s Athletes, the battalion fielded teams in hockey, rugby, baseball, rugby, rowing and football. The 207th football team defeated the Queen’s University club and the 205th Tigers to win the 1916 military league championship.

207thThe final issue of the battalion magazine, the Whiz-Bang, wished the soldiers and their colonel luck as they departed for training:

The 207th is going to the front. Whatever its fate may be—to whatever duty it may be assigned by those in supreme command—the “Whizz Bang” knows that the 207th—to a man—will meet the duty eagerly, joyously for the greater good of the Allied Cause. Like those gladiators of old who fought in the arenas of ancient Rome -the “Whizz Bang” says to all its friends—“We—who are about to die—salute thee.”

In December, MacLean learned that the 207th would not go to the front intact. Despite his appeals for the unit to be reorganized as a railway unit, the Ottawa battalion was broken up for reinforcement drafts.

MacLean died in Montreal on 10 February 1951.


Thanks to Scott Edwards for information about MacLean’s carreer.

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