The Chief

Lieutenant Colonel A. T. Thompson
114th (Brock’s Rangers) Battalionthompson

The ancestors of these men fought for Great Britain in every battle on the Niagara frontier in the War of 1812, and were with General Brock in large numbers when he fell at Queenstown Heights. To this day they venerate his memory, and the name for which I ask, Brock’s Rangers would greatly add to our prestige with them, and gratify them exceedingly.

(A.T. Thompson to Militia Department, 25 Mar 1916)

 Andrew Thorburn Thompson was editor of the Canadian Military Gazette and Liberal MP for Haldimand and Monck (1900—1904). Born on 27 May 1870 in Indiana, Ontario he belonged to a prominent Ontario Liberal Party. His father had been a provincial politician and his grandfather had fought in the War of 1812. A member of the 37th Haldimand Rifles since 1893, Thompson took command of the 114th Battalion after the death of the original colonel, E. S. Baxter on 15 February 1916.

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The Farmer

Lieutenant Colonel T. Bart Robson
135th (Middlesex) Battalion
Robson

Experience teaches that a recruiting meeting in the Country has to be of the nature of an entertainment in order to draw the crowd.

(Robson, 14 Feb 1916)

Born in London, Canada West on 24 January 1859, T. Bartholomew Robson was a farmer with thirty years’ experience in the militia. As commanding officer of the 26th Middlesex Light Infantry, he was authorized to raise the 135th Battalion from Middlesex County in November 1915. When the unit arrived in England in August 1916, it was broken up and the troops were divided among the 116th, 125th and 134th Battalions.

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The Physician

Lieutenant Colonel Dr. George Clingan, M.L.A.
79th (Manitoba) BattalionClingan

Col. Clingan made an eloquent appeal for recruits, “Don’t let your children-to-be say in the after years, ‘My daddy was too cowardly to fight in the big war.’”

(Winnipeg Tribune, 11 Mar 1916, 12)

George Clingan was a doctor and Liberal member for Virden in the Manitoba legislature between 1914 and 1922. He was born on 28 March 1868 in Orangeville, Ontario and graduated from the Toronto Medical College. After moving his medical practice to Manitoba, he joined the 12th Dragoons in 1898, rising to the rank of major. He raising the 79th Battalion from Brandon and sailed to England in April 1916.

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The Opposition

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas B. Welch
99th (Essex) Battalion Welch

We recruited more than three thousand men here, and could have gotten as many more had not the Government put an end to voluntary enlistment by throwing a political monkey wrench into the machinery.

It was for the same reason that the county battalions, one of which I took to England, were broken up into drafts for other unit.

(Welch’s Speech, Toronto Globe, 7 Dec 1917, 12)

Thomas Baird Welch was a chemist and commanding officer of the 26th Middlesex Light Infantry. He was born on 10 April 1867 in Kilwinning Scotland. He went overseas with the First Contingent in October 1914 and served as a major with the 1st Battalion in France from April to May 1915. He joined the 1st Division command staff until he returned to Canada in December 1915 to raise the 99th Battalion.

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The Stand-patter

Lieutenant Colonel John. I. McLaren
19th (Central Ontario) BattalionMcLaren

“I don’t matter at all,” he said in a personal reference, “but the men who do matter are the privates and corporals who have gone through the Gethsemane of the front line trenches without a worry, save the worry they have about their dependents at home being cared for. These men and their families will demand that men who have given service to their country without profit to themselves shall represent them in the next Parliament..”

(McLaren, Toronto Globe, 3 Nov 1917, 4)

In anticipation of a possible wartime election, on 28 May 1915, the Liberal Party nominated John Inglis McLaren to run in Hamilton West. McLaren had just departed Canada in command the 19th Battalion. By the time of the December 1917 federal election and the formation of the Union Government, Liberals and Tories implored McLaren to withdraw in favour of a civilian Unionist nominee. He refused and contested the race as a soldier-candidate.

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The Ambassador

Brigadier General Victor Odlum 7th
(1st British Columbia) Battalion Odlum

Victor Wentworth Odlum was a curious specimen. Warfare fascinated him. It was said that he had taken to peacetime soldering because it presented an interesting problem, that he had set himself the task of mastering the psychology of war.

(Pierre Berton, Vimy, 1985, 114)

Victor Wentworth Odlum was a prominent journalist, businessman, diplomat and media tycoon. Born in Cobourg, Ontario on 21 October 1880, he moved to British Columbia as a young man to become a reporter and later editor for the Vancouver Daily World. A veteran of the Boer War and member 6th Regiment, he volunteered with the 7th Battalion in September 1914. He deployed to France as second-in-command.

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The Jack-of-All-Trades

Lieutenant Colonel John G. Rattray
10th (Fighting Tenth) BattalionRattray

But when I find myself honored by such frenzied attacks by the Rabbi Samuel, the chief Hebrew apologist of Jewry and Jewish morals, and this attack signed by the Canadian Jewish committee (what’s in a name!) a short statement of my side of the story would appear necessary…

If it is personal attack, it is apparent in every paragraph that the Hebrews are ‘out to get Colonel Rattray.’

(Rattray to Winnipeg Free Press, 13 Jan 1922, 19)

John Grant Rattray was a schoolteacher, militia officer, hardware salesman, newspaper publisher, businessman, town reeve, insurance agent, soldier, police chief, political campaigner, civil servant, veterans’ official and sportsman. Born on 15 January 1867 in Banffshire, Scotland, he immigrated to Manitoba in the 1880s. As commanding officer of the 20th Border Horse, he organized the 10th Battalion at Valcartier when the Canadian Expeditionary Force assembled in September 1914.

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The Liberal

Lieutenant Colonel George B. McLeod
63rd (Edmonton) BattalionGBMcLeod

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.

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The Manly Man

Lieutenant Colonel A. H. Borden, D.S.O.
85th (Nova Scotia Highlanders) BattalionBorden

Oh, wha is foremaist and a’ and a’,
Oh, wha does follow the blaw, the blaw,
Colonel Borden, the king o’ us a’ hurra’,
Wi’ his hundred Pipers and a’ and a’,
His bonnet and feather he’s wavin’ high,
His prancing steed maist seems to fly.
He’ll lead us to Berlin across the Rhine,
Wi’ his 85th Highlanders bonny and fine.

(Songs of the 85th Battalion, 1917, 16)

In September 1915, Allison Hart Borden raised the 85th Nova Scotia Highlanders, nicknamed with the Gaelic motto Siol na Fear Fearail (The Breed of Manly Men). Encouraged by rapid recruitment in the province, Borden proposed a four battalion Highlander Brigade from the Maritimes. The battalions (the 85th, 185th, 193rd, 219th) departed Canada in October 1916. After arriving in England, the Brigade was broken up to the dismay and confusion of many citizens and politicians in the province.

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The Clear Grit

Major General Robert Rennie, M.V.O.
3rd (Toronto Regiment) BattalionRennie

As a candidate, I seek election not on my personal record so much, but on that of those who were associated with me in the great war. I am now more a civilian than a soldier, but—and please let there be no frills about this—if war should threaten again, I am ready to offer my services.

I stand on a Liberal platform because I am a Liberal and always have been. I believe in the great principles of Liberalism…

(Rennie’s speech, Toronto Globe, 21 Nov 1921, 1)

Robert Rennie was a Toronto seed merchant and thirty-four year member of the Queen’s Own Rifles. He joined as a rifleman in 1880 and rose to become lieutenant colonel by 1914. Born on 15 December 1862 in Markham, Canada West, Rennie was an expert marksman, respected businessman and prominent sportsman, with a specialty in curling.

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