Remember Me

Remember Me

Monday, September 8, 2014

Letter #1 SEPT 8,1914 from Valcartier

Once Charley had volunteered in August 1914, he would have had about 10 days before he boarded a troop train for Valcartier Quebec.  Along with thousands of other civilian volunteers who were to become the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force; Charley was pretty certain they'd all be home by Christmas.  

He would have taken leave from his job.  He'd have packed up his apartment ~ most likely storing his possessions with his family who lived in Vancouver. He made a quick trip west to say his goodbyes.

The 1914 'Henderson Directory', lists CR Bailey as resident at Suite A of Prince Rupert Court, an apartment block at 376 Ellice Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba 

Image Courtesy of Christian Cassidy

Prior to enlisting Charley worked at The Clarendon Pharmacy, 305 Portage Avenue. The Pharmacy (in the Clarendon Hotel) was in operation from approximately 1902 1916.

Image Courtesy of Christian Cassidy 

Zooming in at the intersection we can see Charley's place of employment.
Image courtesy of Christian Cassidy

   This photo is circa 1915 so it is exactly as it would have looked in Charley's day.

 Two newspaper ads from Clarendon Pharmacy.
 September 16, 1909, Winnipeg Free Press   
 December 14, 1911, Winnipeg Tribune

One hundred years ago today, September 8th, Charley would have been well ensconced at the training grounds in Quebec, awaiting orders and anxious to depart for Europe.  Thousands of men from all over Canada were arriving daily.  This would be a pretty typical view of the scene whenever a new batch of men detrained at Valcartier.

Valcartier, at least for the early arrivals, was a hastily prepared camp of men and horses, tents, showers, latrines and training grounds.  It must have been looked back upon as a Boy Scout picnic compared to the conditions these men would face in the months and years ahead of them.  There were so many who never returned. 

Charley survived. With all his fingers and all his toes.

He likely began jotting notes home even as his troop train crossed the provinces.  Many of Charley's letters to his mom were forwarded to his sister VV who was just entering college in Brandon.  This is the first of those surviving letters.

(Partial letter / no envelope)
Valcartier Camp
Sept 8th 1914
106th Regiment
Company F

Dear Mother
          You were saying in your letter that I would not be able to write once we leave here.  Well I will be able to write, but it will be on military post cards only so you see I won’t be able to say very much.
          As yet we do not know when or where we are going, there was some talk today about sending us over to India, but nobody really knows.  I got the position of compounder (1)
all right and the position is a pretty good one. I sleep in the officers’ lines with the doctor, we have an orderly or servant to look after the tent and everything is...

  • Compounder (of medicines)
  • My thanks to Christian Cassidy; Winnipeg historian extraordinaire who was kind and generous with his time, photos, newspaper clippings and information. 

1 comment:

  1. So impressed - this is a wonderful endeavour Nick!