During the last few months the streets of Toronto have been overrun with thousands of untrained men in uniforms accosting with such manner and expressions as have aroused constant indignation. These men perforce of circumstances untutored in their duties, have done their best. I claim that there is not one civilian man in each thousand in Toronto who has not been most strongly and continuously urged to join the colours.
(Reed to Gen. Logie, 26 June 1916)
Days after the declaration of war against Germany, Toronto insurance broker Le Grand Reed joined the 9th Mississauga Horse. He worked through the local recruiting depot until December 1915 when he was authorized to organize the 170th Battalion from the Ontario capital. A native of Toronto, Reed was born on 8 October 1876.
In contrast to the confrontational methods of some Toronto battalion recruiters, such as Major Boehm of the 169th, Reed promised a “sane and aggressive campaign.” He argued that appeals to volunteers’ patriotism and manhood would be more effective than coercion. Despite the poor recruiting environment in the city, Reed managed to enlist over nine hundred. He told the new recruits that, “he should personally see to it that he would not send them anywhere that he would not go himself.”
After the 170th was broken up in England and merged with the 169th, Reed returned to Canada in order to resume volunteer recruiting. He was attached to the British mission in New England, where he appealed to potential Canadians recruits living in the United States.
Referring to the impending conscription legislation, Reed explained:
British-born men should understand that they are not except from service in the Armies or Navy of the British Empire if they have taken out their first papers in the United States. We will not take American citizens–they should serve under their own flag–but we will accept all British subjects and all men of the Allies who have not become citizens of the United States.
After the war, Reed was active in veterans’ advocacy and founded the Poppy Day Fund with the Canadian Legion. He died in Toronto on 2 March 1952.