Lieutenant Colonel Jack McPhee
177th (Simcoe Foresters) Battalion
Knowing the Colonel slightly, we were affected by that indefinable quality of true manliness which he radiated. The affection was contagious. Doubtless it affected thousands.
(Northern Advance, 7 Dec 1922, 2)
After returning home in March 1916 from one year in the trenches, Captain John Bingham McPhee married Eva Hamlin Harrison. Instead of a honeymoon, he organized the 177th Battalion from Simcoe County. Born in Barrie, Canada West on 26 March 1865, McPhee was an accountant with twenty-two years’ experience in the 35th Regiment. He had enlisted as a paymaster with J.A.W. Allan’s 20th Battalion and served on the front until he was recalled to command the new battalion.
A highly respected citizen in Barrie, McPhee was praised as an excellent choice to lead the 177th. General Lessard described him as one of the best soldiers in Canada and offered an appointment to brigadier. McPhee declined, promising to stay with his men. He explained if only he was sure that he would join the battalion on the front, his “happiness would be complete.”
Considering the high quality of the battalion, Lessard thought it a great shame that the battalion would not deploy to France. The 177th proceeded to England in May 1917 only to be absorbed into the 3rd Reserve Battalion.
McPhee died suddenly from a heart attack on 29 November 1922. He was widely mourned in Barrie and buried with full military honours