Lieutenant Colonel Lendrum McMeans
221st (Bulldogs) Battalion
I desire to reiterate what the honourable gentleman [Mr. Sharpe] has just said. I too have lost of my substance and of my blood in this war; I too went out and did my best to raise men; and this honourable gentleman [Mr. Bennett] has no right to get up and sneer at men who have done that.
(McMeans, Senate Debates, 26 May 1920, 434)
Born on 1 August 1859 in Brantford, Canada West, Lendrum McMeans was Conservative member of the Manitoba Legislature (1910—1914) and civic leader in Winnipeg. In April 1916, McMeans was authorized to raise the 221st Battalion. His oldest son, thirty-one year old Major Vivian Arthur Vinton McMeans returned from the front in August to join in his father’s battalion. The colonel’s youngest son, twenty-six year old Captain Ernest D’Harcourt McMeans, had been killed in battle on 22 May 1915.
A veteran of the Fort Garry Horse, Vivian McMeans had served for two years on the front before returning home to become second-in-command to his father. In April 1917, the 221st sailed to England under the younger McMeans’ command. The battalion was absorbed into the 11th Reserves. Prime Minister Borden appointed the elder McMeans to the Senate on 26 July 1917.
During a tense debate in 1920, Ontario Senator William Bennett implied McMeans and fellow parliamentary colonels, George Henry Bradbury and William Henry Sharpe, had been cowards for not leading their troops on the battlefield.
McMeans seethed, “I do not know of any gentleman who has sneered more at men who went into the military and endeavoured to do something for the country than the honourable gentleman has done.”
Several days later, Senator Sharpe and Senator Bradbury resumed their counterattack. Bennett explained that he regretted to have included McMeans because he lost a son in the war: “I apologized to him and like a gentleman he accepted the apology. As for the other two gentleman, when they get an apology they will know it.”
McMeans fractured his hip after a fall on 17 August 1941. He died one month later at the age of eighty-two. Vivian McMeans died in Winnipeg on 5 August 1967.