Tag: History

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Flowers of the Forest – The story behind the story. A young man’s journey to War.

Farquhar Mclennan
My Great-Uncle, Pte. Farquhar McLennan, killed in action, June 13, 1916

Join me, if you will , on a journey in time – a journey back 100 years!

I have designed this website as a media supplement to the novel “Flowers of the Forest”. The novel is a historical/fiction rendition of my Great Uncle, Pte. Farquhar McLennan’s time in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in the Great War. This site gives the reader of the novel, the opportunity to see photos of the vivid characters and amazing places that live in the pages of the novel. The reader will also have access to background information and research that went into writing the story.  The Library and Archives in Ottawa provided a wealth of digital data that are displayed in this site. The project started out as my curiosity but soon became my passion. Read on as I update the site and find out why. Here is a chance to view some compelling  photos and documents. Travel back in time 100 years and feel the vibe!

800px-58_Bn_CEFBattalion Colours of the 58th Battalion, CEF

Light blue rectangle – 9th Brigade

Dark blue triangle- 58th Battalion

Brown background  – 3rd Division

Canadian Expeditionary Force

Badge 58th

Cap Badge, 58th

 

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Flowers of the Forest – now available

The hard and soft cover versions of the book are now available on;      Amazon.ca – Books,    Amazon.com,                   Amazon.co.uk  amazon.pg

 

 

 

or ebooks on ;             Chapters-IndigoChapters-logo-0229B306C0-seeklogo.comindigo-books-music-inc-logo-2925241B99-seeklogo.com       or;

 

        Barnes & Noble-author-educator-barnes-and-noble-png-logo-2

CLICK ONE!

Be the first on your block to own one!

coverback1.png

front and back cover of Flowers of the Forest

 

 

Enjoy!!

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My First Post

Badge 58th

Cap Badge, 58th

Just a little over a year ago, I started work on something I never dreamed I could do. Ever! I started work on a book; actually a novel. The book is now Published and available at Amazon, Chapters, Barnes and Noble and on this website. Needless to say, then, this is a very exciting time for me. At the same time, I am learning to set up this Blog page and Web site to provide background material for the book.

The project of writing this book started out innocently enough – about 5 years ago. I became curious about a Great Uncle who lost his life in the Great War. The only thing that I knew about him was his name; Farquhar McLennan. He was mentioned from time to time in family conversations. I remembered him because his name was so unusual. I grew up in Toronto Canada and nobody was ever named Farquhar.

As I said, about 5 years ago, I became curious and had some time on my hands. I sat down at the computer and did a search in the Library and Archives in Ottawa. I searched under WW1 records. Within a few minutes some documents came up on my screen. There in front of me was a document called “Attestation Papers”. In other words, enlistment papers. I could see detailed information about my Uncle and the thing that really blew me away – his signature.

Farquhar McLennan was no longer just a unique name, but a real person who lived and breathed and signed his name. And he was about to go away to war.

I was hooked.

Start here and follow the Blog through to the end. I will update it regularly.

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Attestation

Attestation#2

First Page of Farquhar’s Attestation.

In my first post, I mentioned my Uncle’s attestation papers. Farquhar McLennan signed up with the 58th Battalion, Central Ontario Regiment on July 12, 1915.  He traveled from Toronto to Niagara-on-the-Lake, where the training camp was located. Oddly enough, the training camp was called Paradise Camp. It was located on The Commons right next to the old Fort George site. The Commons was covered with thousands of white bell tents where the recruits slept.

Farquhar would have undergone a medical examination before he was presented with his papers. I have posted the 2 pieces of Attestation in the Gallery for you to see.

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Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Personnel Service Files – Update of February 2018 — Library and Archives Canada Blog

As of today, 555,443 of 640,000 files are available online in our Personnel Records of the First World War database. Please visit the Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Service Files page for more details on the digitization project. Library and Archives Canada is digitizing the service files systematically, from box 1 to box 10686, […]

via Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Personnel Service Files – Update of February 2018 — Library and Archives Canada Blog

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W.M. McPherson Bakery as it looks today in downtown Aberdeen.

This is the Bakery that Farquhar Mclennan worked in until April 1914. It is located at 15 Fountainhall Rd., Aberdeen. He worked as an apprentice for 5 years and then became a journeyman. Google Earth is a great tool for doing this kind of background research and providing photos of current locations in street view. I try to imagine what the bakery looked like in 1914. Later, I will demonstrate how to use Google Earth for overlays on Trench maps.

Farquhar's Bakery

15 Foutainhall Rd., Aberdeen

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Paradise

When I found Farquhar’s attestation papers in the Archives, it was obvious that he signed up for duty somewhere in the Niagara Region. With a search on Google, I found that there was a training camp in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The camp occupied the open field next to Old Fort George. This field is called the Commons and is still existent.

In the archives of the Niagara Historical Society, I found photos and information about the training camp.

This area had been used as a military/cadet summer training camp since the 1800s. It was used for this purpose until Camp Borden was built to replace it after the War. On the edge of the field was a stand of trees called Paradise Grove. Hence, the camp was called “Paradise Camp”.

The name “Paradise Camp”, was one of the first inspirations for me to write a story about Farquhar McLennan. I was struck by the irony of the name. The young men were being trained to become cold, efficient, killers in a place called “Paradise”! Where were they going? The were destined for Hell!

There were two ways for Farquhar to travel from Toronto to Niagara-on-the-Lake. One method was by ferry boat, the “Cayuga” for instance, or by rail. There was a steam locomotive that ran to St. Catharines and then he would have to switch to an electric tram to finish the trip to Niagara. The tram traveled right into Niagara-on-the-Lake by way of King St.

Railline

Tram line on King St., Niagara-on-the-Lake. (courtesy of Niagara Historical Museum Collection)

The recruits would disembark at the corner of King and Queen Sts. and then would head over to the Commons to sign up. They would be greeted by an eye-popping sight. Bell tents by the thousands! (I think I slept in one of these vintage bell tents when I was in Scouts)

Tents(ac)

Enlisted men’s tents in Paradise Camp. (courtesy of Niagara Historical Museum Collection)

Tents3-2

These tents, I presume are mess tents. (courtesy of Niagara Historical Museum Collection)

In the summer of 1915, there were twelve battalions in residence at Paradise Camp, so just over 12000 men. Farquhar was enlisted in the 58th Battalion, Central Ontario Regiment, CEF. His battalion number was 451889. The attestation papers indicate that Farquhar had been in the militia at some point. In fact, he had joined the 48th Highlanders while in Toronto.

Cowsbreakfast

Recruit’s uniforms. (courtesy of Niagara Historical Museum Collection)

There were no proper military uniforms available for the recruits, so they wore the uniforms that you see above. The men nicknamed the straw hats; “cow’s breakfast”. I wonder what impression these uniforms made on the young ladies of Niagara. Of course the officers had full gear!

Proper uniforms didn’t arrive until August.

58th Niagara

Panoramic view of the 58th Battalion. Can you find Farquhar? Neither could I!

Officers 58th

The officers of the 58th, Lt. Col. Genet OC, in the centre, second row.

58th officers

Officers of the 58th.

Facker B

B Company, 58th Battalion. Farquhar is in this picture and it took me hours to find him.

Hint: one recruit has a tiny red arrow above his head.

The battalions trained here at Niagara until the fall. One contingent from the battalions was sent overseas in August, ahead of schedule. The casualties at the Western Front were taking a toll and reinforcements were badly needed. Farquhar wasn’t among that contingent.

More to come in my next Blog.