Volume 10 Week 10

Saturday, Dec. 9


 

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(Posted 7:30 a.m., Nov. 11)
Local villages paid a heavy price in serving their country
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Local Remembrance Day ceremonies will be held at the Orléans Legion on Taylor Creek Road this Saturday, Dec. 9 starting at 10:30 a.m. Sandwiches and light refreshments will be served afterwards. File photo

When area residents join members of the military, both past and present, this Saturday to pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, they can reflect on the dozens of men and women from local communities like Bearbrook, Vars, Orléans, Navan and Cumberland Village, who answered the call to serve in the both the First and Second World Wars.

The Navan Cenotaph has 12 names on it, representing the 12 native sons who never made it back home from the First World War. Many of them came from families who were among the earliest settlers in the area – the Shaws, the Cottons, the Armstrongs and the Daggs.

Almost all of them came from local farms, recruited into the military to handle the horse teams that pulled the heavy guns and amunition carriages through the mud near the Western Front.

Their loss would have made a profound impact on a community that had only been established four decades earlier.

The same is true in Vars where 10 names adorn the granite face of the village’s Cenotaph, including that of Ernest Bonsall, who went missing in action during the battle of Passchendale on November 6, 1917 at the age of 22. The Memorial Cenotaph has seven additional names on it.

Together the cenotaphs represent the 29 young men who perished during what has been dubbed “The Great War”. But there are many more names of young men who volunteered to serve there country and did make it back home. Men like George Muggleton, Martin Burns, Jim Shaw, Jack Pruner and Tom Melvin, all from the Village of Navan.

Robert Kennedy returned to his native Cumberland Village and married Eva Farmer who also served in the First World War as a nurse. Together they raised a family and had six children, three of whom would serve in the Second World War.

Kennedy would go on to serve as reeve and treasurer of Cumberland Township, while Eva was the village nurse and mid-wife, delivering countless babies during her career.

Far fewer men volunteered for the First World War from nearby Orléans, but one of them – Odilon Tétreau – served in the 224th Forestry Battalion for two years before joining his comrades for the voyage home after the war ended. He would marry Eugénie Proulx, in 1919 and the couple would have a daughter Jeannette.

Those are the names of just some of the young men from the area who answered the call to serve their country during the First World War, many more would continue their legacy of service in the next Great War.

Some would fall while others would make it back, grateful for their providence, but never forgetting the sacrifices made by their brethren, many of whom were friends and even kin. And the rest of us can only be eternally grateful for their service..

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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