Lt. Col. Sissons

Lieutenant Colonel Frank O. Sissons
1st Mounted Rifles Brigade

Col. Sissons is a real westerner in every sense of the word.

(Edmonton Bulletin, 14 Nov 1914, 1)

Born in Burnside, Manitoba on 23 March 1868, Frank Ogletree Sissons was a militia officer, rancher, and landowner in Medicine Hat. He had created the 21st Hussars in 1908 and with the formation of the Canadian Mounted Rifles in November 1914, Sissons was initially given command of the 3rd CMR. The militia council had selected Colonel Victor Williams to command the 1st CMR Brigade, but militia minister Sam Hughes favoured Sissons to represent the West. He was appointed brigade commander in March 1915.

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Brig. Gen. Smart

Brigadier General C.A. Smart
2nd Mounted Rifles Brigade

Germany waged war with one idea, and that was world domination or disaster. Well, she had achieved the alternative—disaster—and let her pay the price.  

(Smart quoted in Folkestone Express, Sandgate, Shorncliffe & Hythe Advertiser, 16 Nov 1918)

Born in Westmount, Quebec on 1 January 1875, Charles Allen Smart was a militia officer, manufacturer, and politician. Commissioned since 1898, he commanded the Eastern Townships Cavalry Brigade and was elected to the legislative assembly as Conservative member for Westmount in 1912. With the formation of the Canadian Mounted Rifles, militia minister Sam Hughes offered Smart the command of the 2nd CMR Brigade in July 1915.

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Lt. Col. Leonard

Lieutenant Colonel Ibb Leonard, D.S.O.
7th Canadian Mounted Rifles & Canadian Light Horse


Talking about spring, I was much struck on Monday when up in front to see the buds and grass started in little pieces here & there that had not been touched by shell fire even trees that were half shot away seemed to be make an effort to abide the summons of spring and sprout a few little buds.

 It was almost pathetic and made you want to curse and crush the ruthless hands that are responsible for all this destruction and sadness in the face of beautiful and wonderful nature. One almost wonders why God allows it but wonderful are his ways and we must try and understand them and have faith that He is working out a great problem for our good. I can hear the steady rumble of the guns as well as the singing bird.

(Lt-Col. Leonard to sister, 2 May 1917)

Born in London, Ontario, on 30 July 1882, Elton Ibbotson (Ibb) Leonard was a graduate of the Royal Military College and McGill University. On the outbreak of the Great War, as a militia officer with eleven years in the 1st Hussars, he applied several times for an appointment with the Cavalry Brigade without success. Discouraged by the few opportunities for a cavalryman in a modern war, he was appointed to command the 7th Canadian Mounted Rifles in February 1915.

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Col. MacDonald

Colonel George MacDonald
12th Canadian Mounted Rifles

A quiet, soldierly old gentleman, caring little or nothing about the limelight of public life, he numbered many friends in his personal circle, and probably more among the pensioners and the war-wrecked wounded with whom his postwar medical duties brought him in close touch.

 (Calgary Albertan, 6 Nov 1933, 4)

George MacDonald was an Alberta physician born in Aberdeen, Scotland on 22 September 1863. He immigrated to Canada as a child and graduated with a medical degree from McGill in 1889. He then travelled west and attempted prospecting during the Klondike Gold Rush. He settled down into a medical practice in Calgary in 1900. As commanding officer of 15th Light Horse he was appointed to raise the 12th Canadian Mounted Rifles in November 1914.

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Lt. Col. Gordon

Lieutenant Colonel H.D.L. Gordon
4th Canadian Mounted Rifles

Canadian accounting principles are whatever Clarkson Gordon does.

(Col. Gordon quoted in Stephen Azzi, Walter Gordon and the Rise of Canadian Nationalism, 16)

Harry Duncan Lockhart Gordon was born in Toronto on on 29 July 1872. After attending Upper Canada College and the Royal Military College, Gordon trained as an accountant in England. By the outbreak of the Great War, he had become a prominent Toronto businessman in the accounting firm Clarkson Gordon & Co and commanding officer the 9th Mississauga Horse. He joined the 4th CMR as a major in December 1914.

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Lt. Col. S.F. Smith

Lieutenant Colonel Sandford F. Smith
4th Canadian Mounted Rifles

This Officer while on training duty in France was thrown by his horse and sustained a fracture of the head of the left humerus. He was evacuated to England June 10th 1917, and has been a patient at Helena Hospital until to-day, when he was discharged as completely recovered.

(Proceedings of Medical Board, 1 July 1917)

Born in Peterborough, Ontario on 4 May 1873, Sandford Fleming Smith was the grandson of famed Scottish-Canadian engineer Sir Sandford Fleming. Smith was a Toronto architect, former member of the Queen’s Own Rifles and commanding officer of the Governor-General’s Body Guard.

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Lt. Col. Patterson

Lieutenant Colonel W.R. Patterson
4th Canadian Mounted Rifles


J.M. Patterson, ex-Mayor of Paris this morning expressed doubt that it is his son, Lt.-Col. W.R. Patterson who was yesterday reported to have been raised to the rank of Brigadier. Lt.-Col. Patterson is in command of the 4th CMR, while another officer, Lt.-Col. R.W Paterson, attached to the Fort Garry Horse, is the on who has received promotion. Similar confusion has arisen before as both officers have won the D.S.O.

(Brantford Courier, 5 June 1918)

William Reginald Patterson was born on 1 December 1884 in Paris, Ontario where he father was later three time mayor. The younger Patterson worked in his father’s grocery and glassware store before enlisting in the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, which by the end of the war he would command. Their very similar last names and reversed initials meant he was frequently confused with Brigadier Robert Walter Paterson of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade.

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Lt. Col. Stevenson

Lieutenant Colonel H.I. Stevenson
1st Canadian Mounted Rifles and Fort Garry Horse

When our line was temporarily pierced, he led a charge with great skill and dash, by which the enemy were driven back and a new line established. He succeeded in establishing communication with the troops on his right flank, and though heavily outnumbered maintained this line until relieved by fresh infantry units. His prompt action and cool leadership were the means of allowing two battalions of infantry, who were in danger of being cut off, to withdraw safely to our line.

 (D.S.O. Citation, Gazette, 22 June 1918)

Herbert Irving Stevenson was in Richibucto, New Brunswick on 17 July 1878. After serving in the Boer War he moved west to Manitoba in 1903. He began working for the Dominion Forestry Service in 1912. He organized the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles in December 1914 but was replaced a year later when the mounted rifles became infantry.

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The Chronicler

Lieutenant Colonel G.C. Johnston
2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles

I had the honour of a visit from General Currie, one I did not at all appreciate, as he at once proceeded to reduce me to a nervous wreck by putting me through a whole catechism of questions as to where I was to go, and what I would do with my company in the event of the Huns breaking through the front line. At this point, when I was thoroughly uncomfortable, the Bosche commenced to shell the hill and some shrapnel, coming through the roof, wounded one of our batmen, Hawkins, broke a window and ended the interview, much to my relief.

(G. Chalmers Johnston, 2nd CMR in France and Flanders, 18)

George Chalmers Johnston was born in London, England on 21 April 1874. A general agent in British Columbia with the 30th B.C. Horse, Johnston enlisted as a captain with Lieutenant Colonel J.C.L. Bott’s 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles. After their first tour of duty in the trenches in October 1915, Johnston described the soldiers, “Weary, unshaven and plastered with mud as they were, they looked a very different lotbut in those few days in the line, green troops as they were, they had found themselves and laid the foundation for the traditions and success in action which have made the reputation of the battalion second to none in the war.” Continue reading

Lt. Col. Laws

Lieutenant Colonel Burnett Laws
1st Canadian Mounted Rifles

During the last war I served 41 months in France as Adjutant, 2nd in Command and Officer Commanding of a fighting Battalion — so surely my experience in the handling of me could be put to some use. I have kept pretty well posed in the changes made during the time elapsed since going on the reserve of officers and with a Refresher course could take hold of a Battalion or even a Brigade and whip it into shape. As you know I qualified for the command of a fighting Battalion which at the end of the last war had a reputation second to none in the Canadian Corps.

(Col. Laws to Military District No. 12, 22 May 1940)

Burnett Laws was a former North West Mounted Police constable, Boer War veteran and member of the 22nd Saskatchewan Light Horse. Born in Northumberland, England on 3 March 1877, he immigrated to Canada in 1897. After retiring from the NWMP in 1904, he became a farmer in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.

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