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.
Lieutenant Colonel George B. McLeod
63rd (Edmonton) Battalion
Every consideration should be given to the question of sentiment and it is well to encourage the idea of community of interest among the people of a certain locality. If a certain battalion is known as an Edmonton battalion, or an Alberta battalion… those who remain behind and those who have gone forward, have an interest in what that battalion is doing that he otherwise would not have had, and ignoring of that fact has tended very greatly against rapid recruiting in many parts of the country.
(Frank Oliver, Debates, 8 May 1916, 3589)
George Brown McLeod was born in Guelph, Ontario on 3 March 1870. He moved west in 1901 in order to pursue business interests in Edmonton. A member of the 101st Fusiliers, McLeod first enlisted as a captain with the 31st Battalion. He later became second-in-command of the 51st before receiving a promotion to lieutenant colonel in order to raise the 63rd from Edmonton.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Belcher
138th (Edmonton) Battalion
I have in mind a man who has served for many years, first in the British Army, and afterwards in the Northwest Mounted Police and then in the South African war. Finally he was authorized to raise a battalion at Edmonton. On strength of his military experience and on the strength of his personal standing, he did raise a battalion without any serious difficulty. Surely such a man with such a battalion, raised under such circumstances—surely it would be right and proper that that battalion should go to the front intact under such leadership.
(Frank Oliver, Debates, 23 Jan 1917, 76)
Criticizing the breakup of the Canadian battalions, Frank Oliver, Liberal MP for Edmonton, alluded to the experience of Colonel Robert Belcher. Born on 23 April 1849 in London, England, the sixty-seven year old soldier and policeman was “one of the real old-timers in the west.”