Tag Archives: Remembrance Day

A few Vankleek Hill stories for Remembrance Day

The Story of Corp. Strathcona McDonald, Killed in Action October 24th 1918

Corp. Strathcona MacDonald (l) pestered his parents, Dr. Alexander and Ella MacDonald, for 6 months before they finally gave him permission to enlist at age 17.
In October, 1916 he travelled to Petawawa and joined the artillery – 72nd Queen’s Battery of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His military records show that he signed-up for the duration of WWI plus 6 months. It was said, “there was not a prouder boy in uniform.”
Known to family and friends as “Teddy,” he was known for his smile and for being “brim full of mischief.” He delighted in playing jokes on those he loved most.

Strathcona went overseas in March, 1917. He was in England for two months when he volunteered for special trench mortar service in France. He had displayed this eagerness when convincing his parents to let him go. Altruistically, for him, it was a chance for every young man “with a true spirit” to show that he was prepared to suffer and even die if necessary, to defend their rights.
He embarked on this patriotic endeavour as a student, and he discovered that even the active military provide time for learning. He took brief training sessions in England, returning to the field each time.

Home of Dr. Alexander and Ella MacDonald, 160 Main Street East, Vankleek Hill

In September, 1918 he was on leave for course work in England for two weeks. On September 18, 1918 he was promoted to Corporal. And he rejoined his unit in the field in France on October 4th.
On October 24th, 1918 Strathcona suffered a gun shot wound to the head and a fractured skull. He is buried at Queant Road Cemetery located between the towns of Buissy and Queant, in the Calais region of France. Armistice was just short weeks ahead.
As all soldiers are required to do on enlisting, Strathcona signed a will and named his mother Ella MacDonald as his beneficiary. In 1919, she received the balance of his bank account: $14.60 ($217 today).
Ella MacDonald received the Memorial Cross as a bereaved mother.
The MacDonald Family had two sons who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces during WW I. Sutherland, the elder son, was also a student when he joined the CEF in 1916 at the age of 20. He became a member of the 50th Queen’s Battery, 13th Brigade, and served in France until the war ended. When he returned, he resumed his college studies.
In the November 1st, 1918 issue of the Eastern Ontario Review (EOR), the reporter remarks that Teddy’s parents, his sister Elsie and his big brother Sutherland all mourned his loss.
Given the youthfulness of other Vankleek Hill sons who died in WWI, it is likely most knew each other.
Here are images of a few of them taken from the November 1st, 1918 issue of the Eastern Ontario Review. They appeared in an ad for Victory Bonds. Also mentioned in the ad is Sgt William Brown who was killed in an air raid in England.

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