Remembering those who served

Prince Arthur Hotel in then-Fort Arthur, northern Ontario.
Prince Arthur Hotel in then-Fort Arthur, northern Ontario.

This plaque proves Canada was first to adopt the poppy as a symbol of those who fell in war and war.


King George V proclamation
King George V proclamation




From Toronto Star Nov. 9, 1921, 'Pages of the Past' online archive.
From Toronto Star Nov. 9, 1921, Pages of the Past’ online archive

Mme. Guerin (interestingly guerre means war in French)

On Remembrance Day, let’s share some stories of those who served their country.

My husband’s grandfather John H. Kidd, from Northern Ireland was gassed in the trenches at the Mons in World War I.

Don’t have much information about him, although we have a photo of him (not in uniform) in our livingroom.

Other relatives who served include my husband’s great uncles, David and Tommy Estler, who served in an Ulster unit, which was the first over the wall at Vimy.

Family stories handed down say that David’s friend, a medic, was told to leave him on the field because he was beyond help.

With a will to survive, David crawled through the field to a medic tent where they wanted to amputate his arm. He said no.

His medic friend, went to give David’s mother the bad news, but by that time she’d already received a letter that he was alive.

If you are looking for information for Canadians who served and didn’t make it home, a great resource is the Virtual War Memorial.

Allen Olimer
Allen Olimer

John Hanley Kidd, Captain, Royal Horse Artillery, WWI, around 1915, on horse Gypsy

John Hanley Kidd, Captain, Royal Horse Artillery, WWI, around 1915, on horse Gypsy

11 thoughts on “Remembering those who served

  1. Re the 1914-18 world war, we can view Canadian CEF Attestation documents online- what they signed
    when joining up, volunteering or latterly, being Conscripted as the reserved occupations like farmers
    could were called into uniform.
    Thanks for publicizing Vets’ Affairs interactive VWM which, like LAC and its CEF docs, has been accessible
    online for over a decade. You can copy the enlisting doc images to the VWM file re the sad outcome.
    Really hope people will search through their family surnames looking for “fallen” kin and check CEF and
    VWM file for information. The point in the latter is that it welcomes contributions that tell the story of the
    man or woman’s life, pre-war pix etc. and military era ones and clippings such as news stories of their
    A good start today is to look up the VWM file on John McCrae d. 1918 Jan in France and see the origins
    of the Poppy imagery we display to symbolize our War Dead.
    Have a photo of the historic plaque up in Thunder Bay, in the Prince Arthur Hotel that commemorates the idea of using replicas for Canadians to wear re Nov. 11, and begins the use of them as an annual fundraiser
    for civilian services for needy ‘Returned Soldiers” and their dependents. Do you want it ?

  2. A good idea to use it to clarify who did what. It seems 2 google-challenged PhDs ! at Western have
    a piece in the National Post playing on the old chestnut, the white poppy groups and the US claims
    to have invented the Poppy.
    They claim Mme. Guerin, well known to Canadians for her French war orphanage work during the Great
    War (including help from Londoners) was with the US YMCA…

  3. What was interesting in the crowd shots at Ottawa this morning was the consistency with which the
    public followed Canadian tradition, Poppy on left side nearest heart. Few drawing attention to
    themselves with signs and personal photos. Some war vet caregivers need to brush up on protocol –
    poppies on hats, and people wearing the medals earned by others, a real no-no. A little less voice
    over would be nice in CTV coverage, just letting the audience follow activities and hear the sounds
    those there heard. And information about the various service hats, vs the civilian club berets of the
    Legion clubs. Not that complicated to do. And too little attention is paid to the various units who
    served in the wars, compared to the vets club.

  4. The Poppy was to represent the Fallen only, the dead.Those never seen again.This plaque records
    agreement to use French made replicas as charitable fundraisers handouts for the groups charitable
    work with needy Returned Soldiers..
    There’s no suggestion as one reads the story in contemporary newspapers the Poppy was also intended
    also to stand for war’s living survivors themselves.
    That would be presumptuous and against the spirit of the McCrae’s intention in the poem. And insult the
    bereaved. tje kin of the war dead, also the memories of their comrades left in foreign fields or lost at sea.
    This confusion emerges later when the Legion clubs use it interchangeably for its members and Canada’s
    lost service personnel. Not sure youngsters grasp the difference, cut down in war or living into old age.
    McCrae becomes more interesting if we read behind 1915 to his service in the Boer war.
    ‘With the Guns in South Africa’ is readable online. And google ‘Morrison and McCrae’ and find lots on
    London-born “Dinky”, journalist, who seems to be who got PUNCH to accept the poem at Christmas ’15
    from which it went viral in terms of the times.

  5. Perhaps the plaque should be changed as it says war veterans.
    Coverage yesterday included journalist saying the Remembrance Day service is to pay respects to the veterans. While that might be true to some extent today, and no slight to veterans, it is called Remembrance Day because it is to “remember” those who never came home, my uncle among them.

  6. Right on, but the plaque was created decades later by Legion people, not the long-gone GWVA.
    The poppy has become this later club’s ‘brand’, the legal protection of current device image, giving
    it a monopoly on the fundraiser device. (I cringe when I see those Ontario poppy licence plates,
    wondering why these aged ex-servicemen are still driving when others quietly gave up their keys..)
    The Globe & Mail really goofs on page 1 today – photo young serviceman saluting the All Sappers
    Memorial Chilliwack BC under heading “…pay tribute of veterans long past”.
    Look-up of the monument shows four inscriptions on the memorial, ‘including the one that conveys
    the essential spirit of all of them’: “In Memory of All Sappers of the Empire who have given their
    lives in the Service of Their Country.”
    What’s needed is photo of a war dead and an old war service veteran sibling, showing the difference
    in outcomes between the youthful broken branch, and the one that continued into several generations.
    Have you something to illustrate a life cut short vs one given a second chance ?

  7. I have entered in the post above, a photo of my uncle, Allen Olimer, killed Aug. 8, 1944 in France and John H. Kidd, a First World War captain on my husband’s side, who made it home, even though he was gassed and suffered a lung infection.

  8. That’s a fairly common result of service in the “gas attack” war. Not nice at all. Likely shortened
    his life..
    Not a complete match but Olimer is dead at 35. Still Single/childless ? -30- that family branch.
    Whereas Kidd UK came home to start a family, and descendents now reach into this next century ?
    A problem is that recently some media refer to the “sacrifices” of men who served in wartime, a
    term traditionally suggesting giving one’s life for one’s country,”the ultimate sacrifice” not just
    enduring hardships or in some cases having a ‘pretty good war’ with new opportunities, education
    and careers open after demobilization..
    In our day almost everyone eligible joined up, it was not considered “heroic” as media would have it,
    it was just a normal response to one’s country being at war..volunteering to do one’s part.

  9. We find the same kind of confusion at City Hall re the WW2 books online since 2005.
    Heading “War Dead and Veteran Tributes”
    These are biographies, some from the Mothers’ collection, others pulled together years
    later by a local Legion club (research Bill Corfield ??)
    Not tributes, certainly not about surviving ex-servicemen and women.
    What London should promote at this time is not attendance, not civilians and ex-army/
    airforce/navy & merchant volunteers paying their respects to the Fallen together, but
    the identities of local men and woman symbolized by the Cenotaph and the wearing of’
    the poppy.
    Google City London Ontario Remembrance for printable images of C. Howell- researched
    brochures, and images from the late 1940s ‘Mothers’ books’ in City Hall Lobby.
    *Brochure 2 pages –Honouring London’s War Dead – Books of Remembrance

  10. Well, perhaps the 1914 centenary will focus our attention on the different outcomes of war –
    those who have long lain “in Flanders fields”; those who returned and lived full lives afterwards,
    and what we must think of now.
    Those veterans of war service who returned, but damaged…their lives and any family’s never
    the same. The breadwinner lost…
    What did we do in the past for those thousands of citizen soldiers ? And what is our duty to
    the professioonal military of today?

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