Lieutenant Colonel Jim Cornwall
218th (Irish Guards) Battalion
He certainly knows his constituency better than most representatives do. There is scarcely a mile of these unmapped ways that he has not tramped alone; not an Indian guide in the North can last with “Jim for a week, in summer or on snowshoes.
(A.D. Cameron, The New North, 1910,)
On 3 March 1916, James Kennedy Cornwall enlisted as a private in Lieutenant Colonel L. J. Whittaker’s 218th Battalion. Within two months, Cornwall, a former Liberal Alberta MPP (1909—1913), was commanding the unit. Nicknamed “Peace River Jim,” he was a pioneer, prospector, trapper, adventurer and entrepreneur. Born on 29 October 1869 in Brantford, Ontario, he became a world traveler before settling in Peace River, Alberta in 1902.
Lieutenant Colonel C.W. Robinson
187th (Veterans) Battalion
I have offered to take up the story where I left off two years ago, and go over in command of a Company as a Major. There seems to be lots of Colonels in England.
(Col. Robinson letter, Red Deer News, 21 Mar 1917, 3)
Charles Wilson Robinson was a veteran of the Boer War and original officer with Lieutenant Colonel Boyle’s 10th Battalion at Second Ypres. Born in Loftus, England on 2 February 1877, Robinson was a central Alberta farmer and member of the 15th Light Horse. Continue reading
Lieutenant Colonel Nelson Spencer
175th (Medicine Hat) and 31st Battalions
What happened to Colonel Spencer will happen, more or less decisively, to Government candidates throughout the prairie Provinces…
And Colonel Spencer stands quite as high in the estimation of the voters in his district as Government candidates generally can stand in the opinions of their respective communities. If he could not save his deposit, it is a bad look out for them if the conditions of the contest are the same.
(Edmonton Bulletin, 2 Jul 1921, 7)
Born in New Brunswick on 7 December 1876, Nelson Spencer was a Conservative politician in Alberta and member of the provincial legislature (1913—1921). He belonged to the 21st Alberta Hussars and raised the 175th Battalion from his riding in early 1916. In response to questions about Spencer’s competency, Sir Sam Hughes replied, “He as all the necessary qualities to become a most efficient officer, and is rapidly acquiring the necessary military training.”
Lieutenant Colonel L.F. Page, D.S.O.
50th (Calgary) Battalion
Col. Page was essentially a line officer. Wherever the storm was thickest there he was sure to be found. No officer that was ever with the battalion was better known to the men generally, because he toured his front religiously. He never shirked a duty or danger, and never spared himself, and he expected those under him to live up to the same brand of soldiership and manhood.
(Red Deer News, 11 Jun 1919, 1)
A native of England, Lionel Frank Page was born on 17 December 1884. He was a Red Deer, Alberta rancher and member of the 15th Light Horse. He enlisted as a subaltern with the 5th western Cavalry in September 1915, rose to become second-in-command and went on to command the 50th Battalion.
Lieutenant Colonel Dr. R. deL. Harwood
51st (Edmonton) Battalion
Colonel Harwood, who had hoped, I say, to add some credit to the family to which he belonged by rendering military service to Canada and the Empire, and who was no doubt competent in every way to render that service, was relieved of the command of his battalion; it was broken up into drafts, and Colonel Harwood has been given employment as a medical officer in England.
The cruelty of that is, that so long as Colonel Harwood lives or his children after him, instead of his service to the country brining credit or glory to his name, there is a stain against him from which he can never relieve himself.
(Frank Oliver, House of Commons Debates, 13 July 1917)
Born on 27 March 1872 in Vaudreuil, Quebec, Reginald deLotbinière Harwood was a member of a distinguished and influential Lower Canadian family. He was the descendant of the Marquis de Lotbinière (1723–1798), a French-Canadian seigneur, military engineer and general in the Seven Years’ War. After completing his medical education in Montreal, Paris and London, Harwood became a surgeon in Edmonton.
Brigadier General Dan Ormond
10th (Fighting Tenth) Battalion
I have no great hope, however, that he will prove a success in the position to which he has been appointed; my information is that he has not been successful in any of the other ventures over which he has had command.
I consider that the remarks made by Brigadier-General Ormond are an example of red tape snobbishness and brass hat unctuousness. Fortunately there were not many men of this calibre holding high commands…
(R. Gray, Debates, 3 Apr 1933, 3649)
Daniel Mowat Ormond assumed command of the 10th Battalion at Second Ypres following the death of Lieutenant Colonel Russ Boyle. He became second-in-command when John Grant Rattray returned from England to take over the 10th. On relinquishing command in September 1916, Rattray endorsed Ormond as his successor. Currie replied, “You have a higher opinion of Ormond than I have, but I will take your word for it.” Rattray reassured Currie, “Ormond will not disappoint you.”
Lieutenant Colonel W.H. McKinery, D.S.O.
66th (Edmonton Guards) Battalion
All rotters are eventually found out and you will be glad to hear that McKinery has been cashiered for using his Battalion funds for his own purposes and we have heard the last of him in the B.E.F.
(Agar Adamson to Mrs. Mabel Adamson, 2nd Feb 1916, 138)
When William Herbert McKinery enlisted in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, he claimed to have been born in Waterford, Ireland on 5 April 1878. He also used his father’s first name, John, when filling out the attestation papers. McKinery was actually born on April 5, 1875 in Melbourne, Australia. Believing that he would be rejected as overage, the forty-year old Australian had falsified personal information in order to fight overseas.
Major C. Y. Weaver, D.S.O.
49th (Edmonton Regiment) Battalion
Weaver was a man without a spark of vanity and had a wonderful sense of humor. He used to pretend to be suspicious of very clever men and argued at length that clever men were unstable, indeed dangerous. On the other hand he suggested that he himself was stupid, and contended that there were many advantages in being considered stupid. In point of fact, Weaver was a deep thinker and a student in the subjects in which he was interested.
(Gen. Griesbach, The Forty-Niner, 3 Jan 1931, 12)
Charles Yardley Weaver was an Edmonton barrister, justice of the peace and prominent cricket player. Born in Liverpool England on 9 June 1884, he moved to Canada and built a homestead in Alberta at the age of nineteen. He joined the Edmonton Fusiliers in 1908 and was selected by Lieutenant Colonel W. A. Griesbach to be his second-in-command when he raised the 49th Battalion in January 1915.
Lieutenant Colonel E. W. MacDonald, D.S.O., M.C.
10th (White Gurkhas) Battalion
Early in the day, before the attack, and again in the afternoon, he made personal reconnaissances over fire-swept ground, gaining first-hand information which enabled him to handle his men and direct the fire of his guns with remarkable success. His fine leadership, coolness and disregard of danger, carried his men along with him.
(D.S.O. Bar citation, Gazette, 2 Jan 1919)
On 24 May 1918, Eric Whidden MacDonald became the youngest battalion commander in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia on 20 July 1892. He moved to Calgary in 1913 to become an accountant with the Canadian Oil Company. He enlisted with the 10th Battalion in September 1914.
Brigadier General W. A. Griesbach, D.S.O.
49th (Edmonton Regiment) Battalion
I had an idea at one time, that after the war over half of the Canadian parliament would be men who had served in the war. I had an idea that it would be hardly possible for a man to be elected to parliament who had not served his country in the war on active service. Yet in the present parliament we have in the commons some nine men out of 235—no I beg pardon, 234, for one is a woman—who have served overseas.
(Griesbach speech, Ottawa Citizen, 3 May 1923, 3)
William Antrobus Griesbach was an Edmonton barrister, Conservative political figure and member of the 19th Alberta Dragoons. He was born in Fort Qu’Appelle, North-West Territories on 3 January 1878. A veteran of the Boer War, he was authorized to raise the 49th Battalion In January 1915. By October 1915, Griesbach and his Edmonton volunteers had deployed to France as part of the 7th Infantry Brigade in the 3rd Canadian Division.