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The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 25 no 4, October 2013. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.

World War I: Cantley's Youth Answer the Call

by Mary Holmes

Part one - (part one appeared in the November 2013 Echo)

From the website of the Canadian War Museum we learn that: "the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914 set off a chain of events that led to war in early August 1914. The assassination was traced to a Serbian extremist group that wanted to increase Serbian power in the Balkans by breaking up the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Austro-Hungarian Empire attacked Serbia in response. Germany supported Austria-Hungary, while Russia sided with its traditional ally, Serbia. When Russia mobilized its military forces at the end of July, Germany sought to avoid a two-front war by a quick invasion of France, Russia's main ally. German troops moved on France by invading Belgium, a country that had been neutral for nearly one hundred years, on August 3. Britain, fulfilling its obligations to support Belgian neutrality, declared war the next day. On August 4, 1914, Canada, as a member of the British Empire, was at war."

Many of Cantley's youth answered the call to World War 1. The following is 'part one' of their story, as researched and told by Cantley 1889's Mary Holmes....

There is a memorial headstone in Cantley United Cemetery for Allan S. Farmer: "Private 42 nd Highlanders, C.E.F. killed in action at Paschandeale (sic), Belgium, November 3, 1917, aged 21 years". Passchendaele lay on the last ridge east of Ypres, five miles from a railway junction at Roeselare, which was a vital part of the supply system of the German Fourth Army. The battle for control of the ridges south and east of Ypres, in the West Flanders province of Belgium took place on the Western Front, between July and November 1917. In mid-October, the Canadian Corps under the command of Sir Arthur Currie was ordered to the front to relieve Australian and New Zealand troops. Despite the terrible rains and mud, and the continuous shellfire by the Germans, the Canadians were victorious but at a cost of thousands of lives, including the young Allan. He was the son of Frederick W. Farmer and Jane Fetherston Haugh. On his attestation paper in 1915, he lists himself as a carpenter, born in Kirks Ferry, Quebec on July 4, 1893 (to note: he may have been 24 at the time of his death rather than 21 as listed on his headstone, unless there was an error made in his birthdate). His next of kin is his mother, Jane Farmer, whose address is given as Kirks Ferry.

Left to right, top row: Clifford Canavan, Poltimore Qc; Richmond (Dick) Storey, Cantley Qc; Willie Fredenburgh, Poltimore Qc; Alex Tomkeiwicz, Poltimore Qc. Bottom row: George Drennon, Arnprior Ont; Walter Trafford, Galetta Ont; Lawrence Ruddy, Arnprior Ont; McDonald, Sudbury Ont.

According to his attestation paper in 1915, Charles Benjamin Prudhomme, was a 41-year-old Cantley miner. Charles was the husband of Hannah Barrett and the son of Alexandre Prudhomme (Cantley's first mayor) and Jane Johnston. He and Hannah (the daughter of Thomas Barrett and Mary Lynott) had married in St. Elizabeth's church in 1901. By 1915, they had five surviving children ranging in age from 3 to 11. Charles achieved the rank of lieutenant during his time in service.

Enlisting in 1916, machinist/truck man Lemuel Hector Wilson was one of the fourteen children of James Albert Wilson and Catherine Cooper. Lemuel's father, James, was the oldest of the eleven children of Henry Wilson (after whom Wilson's Corners is named) and Frances Mulligan. Lemuel was married first to Henrietta E.B. Cook (who died in 1955) and then to Arlie Durant Leroy. He worked for Imperial Oil Company in Ottawa. He died in 1979 and is buried in Pinecrest Cemetery in Ottawa.

Sapper Edward Joseph Burke was the youngest child of David Burke and Eleanor Barrett, born in 1895. On his attestation paper in 1916, he listed his occupation as telegraph operator and indicated that he had served in the Governor General's Foot Guards for one year.

Cantley born, 22-year-old Richmond Storey was living at Otter Lake at the time of his enlistment in 1916. He listed his occupations as teamster and mechanic on his attestation paper. Richmond was the son of William Storey Jr. and Christina Sifton McClelland, and the grandson of William Storey Sr. and his wife Matilda Geary and of Samuel McClelland and his wife Annie Stevenson, families who had arrived early in the area.

The only military headstone in Cantley is in St. Elizabeth's Cemetery for Sapper Michael J. Maloney: "CRT CEF, January 11, 1920" (CRT stands for Canadian Railway Troops). This headstone is placed beside the headstone of the Thomas Maloney and Mary Burke family, on which Michael's name is also found (1869-1920). These dates correspond with entries for the birth and death found in St. Elizabeth's records. Sapper Michael J. signed up in 1916 in Englehart, Ontario, and listed his occupation as a prospector living in Boston Creek, Ontario (both in the Temiscaming District). However, he listed his birth date as 1876. Were they two different men or one man making himself younger? - an interesting loose end to tie up.

In St. Elizabeth's church cemetery, there is a headstone in memory of William H. Smillie who was killed in action in Dardanelle at 46 years of age. On the same headstone there is an inscription for Michael J. Smillie who died on August 9, 1949 at 51 years of age. The "action in Dardanelle" took place in 1915. The British (including troops from other countries in the British Empire) and the French launched a naval campaign to secure a sea supply route to Russia through the Dardanelles straits (alongside the Gallipoli Peninsula). After that, amphibious landings were made on the Peninsula to capture the capital city of Constantinople (Istanbul). Unfortunately neither campaign was successful. Here's the interactive part of this article: who were the Smillie's? What was their connection to Cantley?

Cantley 1889 would appreciate receiving any information you have on the war service of these men. (info.cantley1889@

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