Lieutenant Colonel D.R. Street
77th (Ottawa) Battalion
I merely add without comment, we hear that the men of the 77th battalion in Ottawa looted the Parliament Buildings the night of the fire. I am prepared to say this—I never thought it worth mentioning it, but my attention was brought to it yesterday–that the men of the 77th, as well as the Engineers, conducted themselves in the most orderly and becoming manner on that night…
(Sam Hughes, Debates, 16 Feb 1916, 855)
Douglas Richmond Street was a member of the Governor General’s Foot Guards and director of the Ottawa Electric & Gas Company. He was born on 19 June 1864 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. In spring 1915, he was selected to raise a battalion from the Ottawa area.
Lieutenant Colonel Harry Cowan
Lieutenant Colonel C.D. McPherson
32nd (Portage la Prairie) Battalion
In view of the serious war situation I decided that I would write to you to ascertain what steps those of us located in this part of the world, and wishing to serve, should take … Just to what extent this U.S. neutrality law would restrain us, I do not know. However, I do know that there will be quite a large number who will offer to serve should hostilities break out.
(McPherson to defence minister, 24 Aug 1939)
Harry James Cowan was a Boer War veteran and commanding officer of the 18th Mounted Rifles. In November 1914, he was authorized to raise the 32nd Battalion from Manitoba and Saskatchewan. He selected Major Charles Duncan McPherson, of “C” Squadron in the 18th Mounted Rifles, as his second-in-command.
Lieutenant Colonel G.W. Bruce
181st (Brandon) Battalion
Col. Bruce’s wife was not able to give definite particulars about her husband’s death, on account of suffering from the sudden shock.
(Toronto Globe, 24 Apr 1916, 8)
George William Bruce was a barrister, militia officer and former commander of the 35th Simcoe Rifles. He was born in Simcoe County, Canada West on 26 January 1862. He graduated from Victoria College in 1885 and joined the militia in 1890. He moved west to join a law practice in Manitoba after retiring to the reserve officers’ list in 1912. In January 1916, Bruce was appointed to raise the 181st Battalion from Brandon, Manitoba. Continue reading
Lieutenant Colonel J.Y. Reid
179th (Cameron Highlanders of Canada) Battalion
He proved himself an excellent Group Commander, energetic and capable, and concerned for the comfort of the men under his command.
(Labour Commandant, Second Army, 13 Jan 1919)
John Young Reid Jr. was a department store manager and merchant in Winnipeg. Born in Toronto on 30 June 1871, he was the son of John Reid Sr., publisher of the Toronto Globe. After working as a clerk in Toronto, the younger Reid moved to Manitoba in 1907. He was one of the first officers in the 79th Cameron Highlanders and became senior major of the 179th Battalion in January 1916.
Lieutenant Colonel W.H. Sharpe, MP
184th (Manitou) Battalion
The man who is not prepared to serve his country at the present time should have no place in the affairs of Canada.
(W.H. Sharpe, Debates, 23 Jan 1917, 9)
William Henry Sharpe was a homesteader, merchant and politician. Born in Scott Township, Ontario on 19 April 1868, he moved to Manitoba and was elected Conservative MP for Lisgar in 1908. After a failed bid in the 1915 provincial election and an appointment to the Senate, Sharpe was authorized to raise the 184th Battalion. His younger brother Sam Sharpe, fellow Conservative MP, commanded the 116th Battalion.
Lieutenant Colonel G.K.W. Watson
190th (4th Winnipeg Rifles) Battalion
Civilians ought to remember that things which thrill them would not excite returned soldiers. They have seen too many strange unusual sights in France to he moved by flag-flapping and bugle blowing. No civilian, however old he might live lo be can see with the eyes of a man who has passed through hell and out again.
(Watson, Winnipeg Tribune, 9 April 1919, 3)
George Kelsey William Watson was a Winnipeg insurance broker born in Wingham, Ontario on 12 January 1882. A member of the 90th Rifles, Watson enlisted as a captain with the 8th Battalion in September 1914. Wounded and shell shocked at Second Ypres, he was invalided to Winnipeg to raise the 190th Battalion. Continue reading
Lieutenant Colonel W.K. Chandler
43rd (Cameron Highlanders) Battalion
Instances of desertion have been limited to three cases all of which were men from desertion in the face of the enemy was to be anticipated, execution of the sentence of death would I submit be punitive only; the general state of discipline does not call for an example being made in this case.
(Chandler to General Horne, 1918)
William Kellman Chandler was born in Barbados, British West Indies on 1 November 1883. Sir His father, Sir William Kellman Chandler (1857—1940) was president of the Barbados legislative council. Educated at Cambridge, he moved to Winnipeg to become a barrister with the law firm of Cameron and Phillips. He joined the 43rd Cameron Highlanders in August 1914.
Lieutenant Colonel Harold J. Riley
27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion
For conspicuous gallantry and able leadership. During four days’ hard fighting, when his battalion was continuously making attacks at short intervals, his gallantry and indomitable energy inspired his men to their utmost efforts.
(Riley, D.S.O. Bar Citation, 11 Jan 1919)
Harold James Riley was the third commanding officer of the 27th Battalion. The son of prominent Winnipeg civic leader, Robert Thomas Riley, he was born on 29 November 1887. Riley was a graduate of University of Manitoba, a lawyer and amateur football and hockey player.
Lieutenant Colonel William Grassie
43rd (Cameron Highlanders of Canada) Battalion
When I was told that we must take over the line which had been held by a London detachment of 1,000 men, I said, “Well there is one consolation, every man I have is as good as ten of the men who have been holding the line. We will do it.
(Grassie interview, Winnipeg Tribune, 24 Jan 1918)
A native of Scotland, William Grassie was born on 27 July 1872. He worked in Winnipeg as a real estate broker and was a former member of the 3rd Field Battery and 78th Cameron Highlanders. After Lieutenant Colonel Thomson of the 43rd Battalion was killed on 8 October 1916, Major Grassie assumed command.
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.