Lieutenant Colonel Jesse Wright
169th (109th Regiment) Battalion
“Vote for King,” shouted a man.
“There is a friend over there that says he is going to vote for Mr. King,” said Col Wright, pointing to a man in the hall. “But one King is enough for Canada. That is his majesty King George and not Mackenzie King who claims his ancestry from a man who was a blooming traitor” and Col. Wright sat down amid a storm of cheers and jeers.
(Toronto Star, 3 Dec 1921, 9)
Born on 9 July 1877 in Collingwood, Ontario, Jesse Green Wright was a Toronto druggist, member of Loyalist Orange Lodge No. 900 and militiaman. He had belonged to the Queen’s Own Rifles and the 12th York Rangers. After outbreak of the Great War, he joined the new 109th Regiment organized by William Thomas Stewart. In January 1916, Wright received authorization to raise the 169th Battalion from Toronto.
Wright and his second-in-command Major Maurice S. Boehm were notorious for their aggressive recruiting tactics. The 169th sailed for England in October 1916 and was absorbed by the 5th Reserve Battalion in January 1917. Wright proceeded to France in March on an instructional duty with the 54th Battalion, whose command had recently passed to fellow 109th alumni, Valentine Vivian Harvey.
On 21 May 1917, Wright, Harvey, and the battalion adjutant went absent without leave from camp. When called as a defence witness at Harvey’s court martial, Wright claimed that the three officers had received permission to go to Bethune. Although Harvey was found guilty, there was confusion as to Wright’s position in the battalion with multiple witnesses denying that he had ever been acting second-in-command.
During the 1921 federal election, Wright campaigned for Prime Minister Meighen’s Conservatives. Despite his own mixed military record, the former 169th Battalion declared, “As a soldier who fought for Canada in times of trouble I am entitled to fight for Canada in times of peace as well as in war and well will see on Tuesday who stuck by the returned men.” Mackenzie King’s Liberals won in a landslide and the Conservatives lost 104 seats.
Wright later joined the Association of the Covenant People, based in British Columbia. As the organization’s secretary for twenty years he traveled Canada and the United States speaking on British Israelism. He died in 1950