The Prohibitionist

Lieutenant Colonel J. E. Hansford
203rd (Hard and Dry) Battalionhansford

He has also on different occasions intimated that he does not want to return to Canada, and has given the impression that he would “stall” off his return as long as possible.

 He is the most unsatisfactory officer I have had to deal with, and since he has wilfully disobeyed an order and made a false statement, I think that disciplinary action should be taken … should he again return to this area, he will be placed under arrest.

(Col. Smart, Officer Commanding, Shorncliffe, 19 Oct 1917) 

The son of Reverend William Hansford of Quebec, Jeffrey Ellery Hansford was born on 17 November 1864. He graduated from the University of Toronto and belonged to Loyal Orange Order No. 1307. A member of the 90th Winnipeg Rifles and major with the 144th Battalion, Hansford received authorization to raise the 203rd in February 1916.

The 203rd commander and the battalion chaplain, Reverend W. B. Caswell, determined to organize a dry unit and required all volunteers to pledge to abstain from liquor. Most of the senior officers were the sons of Methodist ministers.

The 203rd sailed for England in October 1916 but was absorbed into the 18th Reserves in January 1917. Hansford offered to revert to lieutenant but the fifty-three year old was overage for active service. Despite great reluctance to depart England, it was only after being held in open arrest for missing his transport that he returned to Canada in November 1917.

He died of a heart-attack in Quebec on 18 August 1932.

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