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  • Writer's pictureCraig Baird

A Fond Farewell

It was a cold Jan. 6, 1915, when a group of young men were given a grand farewell as they left Vermilion for a place they had never been.

By this point, the First World War had been raging for nearly six months. Many had expected it to finish by Christmas but that was not the case and the worst was yet to come.

So, on that cold January day, 2,000 people from Vermilion and the surrounding area gathered to give a fond farewell to Lt. C. Craig and his company as they departed to training and eventually Europe.

The Edmonton Journal stated, “Never before was such a scene witnessed. Cheers and counter-cheers were given, the band played, volleys were fired and a huge bonfire lit up the station grounds as the train pulled in to bear the brave lads away to fight for their king and country.”

The young men were guests of the town at a reception in their honour in the Royal George Theatre, where patriotic songs were sung and addresses were given by many prominent people from the area.

After that celebration was held, it was on to the Pastime Club where each of the volunteers was given a gift as a token of appreciation from the residents of Vermilion.

At the train station, there was a huge amount of enthusiasm for the men leaving for France. There was cheering, singing, and many heartfelt goodbyes.

Among the group leaving was J.B. Robertson, who had a brother already serving in Europe in the war. Then there was A.B. Rankin, who was a veteran of the Boer War.

Some, like Wilfrid Entwhisle Bury, would never return home. He was killed at the Battle of Passchendaele on Nov. 15, 1917.

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Listen to his podcasts Canadian History Ehx, Canada’s Great War, From John to Justin, Pucks and Cups and Canada: A Yearly Journey on all podcast platforms.

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