Tag: the great war

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Let the Research Begin

Young Farquhar

A photo of Farquhar McLennan as a young boy

Not all of the information that I gathered came from the records in the Library and Archives in Ottawa. The above photo was sent to me by a Family member. Before Farquhar left Toronto to join the CEF he lived briefly with his sister, Catherine, in the East End of the city. He left some belongings behind – things, obviously, that he couldn’t take with him. This picture might have been one that he left with Catherine.

Below, is a photo of the East End house that he lived in. On his Attestation Papers, he stated that his residence was 175 Bolton Ave. A look at a map of Toronto shows a Boulton Ave. in the Gerrard and Broadview neighbourhood. Did Farquhar misspell the name? Apparently not. Old historic maps of the city show it as Bolton Ave. The house is very narrow, perhaps 15 feet wide.

 

farquhar's house

175 Boulton Ave. Toronto

Farquhar Reference

Farquhar stated on his Attestation that his occupation was a baker. This is a letter of reference from his employer back in Aberdeen, Scotland. Signed April 17, 1914, shortly before Farquhar immigrated to Canada. A glowing referral.

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A drawing of the Dunlop factory in the Queen – Broadview area of Toronto.

Farquhar's Dunlop Team Photo

Farquhar’s Dunlop Team Photo, 1914

I can only assume that Farquhar was employed at the Dunlop plant; even though he was a baker. A job is a job! He must have been a pretty good football player. How many of these men went to war? How many came home? Do you have ancestors in this picture?

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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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Remembrance Day, 2015

 

On Remembrance Day, 2015, I was sitting at home watching the Remembrance Day ceremony from Ottawa on my TV. My phone rang and I answered it. On the line was my great friend Karen Dallow and she was calling from the Menin Gate at Ypres, Belgium. She was with her son, Jake, and they were trying to find Farquhar McLennan’s name on the Menin Gate. I informed her that Farquhar was buried at Bedford House Cemetery which was close by.

“Would you and Jake mind going to the Cemetery and paying your respects on my behalf?” I asked.

“Certainly!” came the answer, and they hopped into a taxi and traveled to Bedford House.

With the help of the taxi driver, Karen and Jake were able to locate the grave stone. Karen took this video and emailed to me. A precious gift.

Within a year I was able to travel to Ypres and pay my respects personally.

I am forever thankful for the deeds of Karen and Jake.

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Jake at the Menin Gate, Ypres. (Ieper)

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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.

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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)

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Grief’s Geography

Grief’s Geography – where the heroes lived. – click here for link

This link will show a map of Toronto and the location of the home (shown with a poppy) of every casualty of the Great War. Look to see if there were any heroes who lived on your street.  Enter your postal code. There is a poppy on 175 Boulton Ave., where Farquhar McLennan lived. Thanks to Global News for this site.

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Football way back when..

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Ontario: The Early Years

Perhaps it was appropriate that in Ontario, the first game of soccer, as we know it today, was played in Toronto between teams representing the Carlton Cricket Club and the Toronto Lacrosse Club.  The game was played in 1876, when cricket and lacrosse, along with baseball, dominated Canadian team sports in the summer.  It was played on Parliament Street in Toronto, under the laws formed in 1863 in London, England.  But the transition from the hybrid forms of football played in Ontario prior to that day and the game we play today was not immediate, and many years passed before Ontario soccer joined the mainstream.

One year after the game played in the Queen City, the first national soccer association, outside of the British Isles, was formed.  It was known as the Dominion Football Association.  Unfortunately, it was short-lived and had faded away by the time 1881 rolled around.  But before then, something far more significant had happened.  The Western Football Association was formed in Berlin (now Kitchener) in 1880.  “Football”?   Yes, the official name for soccer is Association Football, and in the early years, and at least up until World War Two, it was known as that in Canada.  Soccer is a colloquialism formed from the second syllable of the word “association.”

The Western Football Association was founded by the great David Forsyth, one of the most influential men in the history of Canadian sport.  It operated in all the towns and villages west of Berlin, places you rarely, if ever, hear of today in connection with soccer.  But the WFA thrived in the summer months, and was to a certain extent based in schools.  One of these was Forsyth’s Berlin High School.  Another was just south of Berlin in Galt, where “Tassie’s School,” Galt Collegiate Institute, took to the game like a duck to water.  West of Berlin, it was the same with Seaforth Collegiate Institute, and similarly in Clinton and further south in Woodstock and Ingersoll.  But small towns also embraced the game, places like Listowel, Brussels, Milverton, Mildmay, Ayr, Plattsville, Aylmer and Atwood.

Aylmer staged the first international soccer game played in Canada in 1888, with Canada playing the United States, and later that same year, a team made up of players from the WFA toured Britain with great success.  However, before that time, the WFA had established a relationship with the American Football Association south of the border, and in 1885 and 1886, a team representing the WFA travelled to New Jersey to play.  That in turn brought teams from the U.S. to Ontario, and those teams played in Berlin, Galt, Toronto and Seaforth.  Later, teams from as far west as Detroit joined the WFA, and the WFA clubs travelled to Chicago and St. Louis.

While the WFA functioned west of Toronto, the Central Football Association operated in Toronto and just east of the city, while the Eastern Football Association was centred in Cornwall.  All of this activity eventually led to the founding of the Ontario Association Football League in 1901, with David Forsyth as the guiding light.  While it was known as the Association Football League (as were most soccer/football organizations formed in Canada in those days), the term “league” had nothing to do with a league as we think of it today.  League in this sense referred to groups working together towards a common goal.

The founding of the OAFL saw the emergence of Galt Football Club as one of Canada’s first great teams.  Known in some quarters as “The Galt Porridge Eating Invincibles,” Galt (today a part of the City of Cambridge), dominated the Ontario Cup in 1901, 1902 and 1903, and then won an Olympic Gold Medal at the 1904 Olympic Games held in St. Louis, Missouri.

But one year later, when the Pilgrims, the first English touring team, came to Canada, something rarely mentioned before came to light.  Canadian Rules.  It seems that over time, teams in Ontario had begun playing to a somewhat different set of rules to those in use elsewhere, at least in Britain.  These rules (or to give them their correct name – Laws), permitted more violent play than the laws in use in Britain —  laws that allowed for hacking at players’ legs and tripping, while it was quite alright to jump on the back of the player with the ball.  The Pilgrims objected.  Controversy ensued, but the games seem to have been played at least partly under Canadian Rules.  While the Pilgrims were beaten by the Berlin Rangers 2–1, it was the game against Galt that really mattered, a game billed as being “For the Championship of the World.”  Played at beautiful Dickson Park on the banks of the Grand River, the game attracted over 3000 spectators and ended in a 3–3 tie.

Four years later saw the beginning of the end for Canadian Rules as a Scot named Tom Robertson fought for and formed the Toronto and District League playing British rules in opposition to the Toronto League, playing Canadian rules.  Eventually Robertson prevailed, and the two organizations joined forces.  Robertson then went on to become the secretary of the Toronto and District League and then of the Ontario Football Association and finally to help found the Dominion of Canada Football Association, today’s Canadian Soccer Association, in 1912.  But soon after that, the clouds of war cast a dark shadow over all of Canada, and led to the deaths of almost an entire generation of young Canadians, many of them soccer players.

( courtesy of, Canadiansoccerhistory.com)

Farquhar's Dunlop Team Photo

Farquhar’s Dunlop Team Photo, 1914, Division 3 Champions, Toronto

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A rendition of Ulster Stadium at Greenwood and Gerrrard, Toronto. Built in 1925.

Football is an important theme in the novel, Flowers of the Forest. The theme centres around Pte. Farquhar McLennan’s prodigious football skill. I used a little writer’s license, having him play his games at Ulster Stadium, which wasn’t built until years later. His skill was noticed by others, particularly, a certain Lt. Colonel in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. We will learn more about him later. Stay tuned.

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The Great Trek – one last thought

My family recently relocated to Burlington, Ontario, along the shore of Lake Ontario. It certainly is a delightful city with a beautiful waterfront. It also has the Lakeshore Rd running through it, and if you recall, this was the route for the Great Trek. Since I have moved here, I have become aware of the older buildings and features of downtown Burlington. I have become aware, in the context of, what would Pte. Farquhar McLennan have seen as he  and the 58th passed through: for sure some of the old houses, built in the 1800s, and huge trees that tower over the houses and streets.

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Lakeshore Rd. looking west in Burlington. Near Brant St.

There is one structure though, that really caught my eye. It is a simple building, a municipal hut. Look at the date on the stone. – 1915. This structure was built in the year that the Great Trek passed by it. They passed by in November, so the hut probably would have been completed. Did Farquhar look at it? What did he think?

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North side of Lakeshore Rd. near Brant St.