Lieu­tenant-colonel Ber­tram Daw­son Lyon (1905-1986) : Mer­chant and WWII Vet­eran

Sherbrooke Record - - EDITORIAL - By Jean-marie Dubois (Univer­sité de Sher­brooke) and Gérard Coté (Len­noxville and As­cot His­tor­i­cal and Mu­seum So­ci­ety)

The Lyon Brook is an im­por­tant brook in Sher­brooke that flows along the greater part of the Re­gional In­dus­trial Park, and en­ters the Ma­gog River east of the Mau­rice-gingues Bridge, part of Au­toroute 410. The name, made of­fi­cial in 2013, goes back to the 1960s and re­lates to a fam­ily who had their farm around this brook. It was Ber­tram Daw­son Lyon who bought the Gra­ham farm around 1937-1938 and added the An­drew Faith farm around 1950. The greater part of his land be­came the Sher­brooke Re­gional In­dus­trial Park in 1971.

Ber­tram Daw­son Lyon was born in 1905 in Is­land Brook. He was the son of Al­ice Daw­son (1878-1962) and of Ed­ward Lyon (1881-1933), the man­ager of Bury’s Lum­ber in Is­land Brook. Af­ter his gram­mar and high school stud­ies in Is­land Brook, Stornoway and Sher­brooke, he took a com­mer­cial course at Mcgill Univer­sity. He be­gan his ca­reer in the lum­ber trade, likely with his fa­ther. But in 1929, he bought the Sher­brooke News Co., the store of which still stands at the north end of Welling­ton Street. In 1931, he mar­ried Ruth Er­mina Ed­ney (1906-1989) in the former Trin­ity United Church on Court Street, Sher­brooke. They had four chil­dren: Don­ald Ed­ward (1932-1999), Stu­art Ber­tram (1934-2004), William Arthur, and Joan Carol.

Apart from his life as a civil­ian, Ber­tram Lyon also led a mil­i­tary ca­reer from 1921 to 1946. He first served in 1921 with the 35th Bat­tery of the Royal Cana­dian Ar­tillery, as a mem­ber of the Sher­brooke mili­tia unit. In 1923, he was pro­moted lieu­tenant with the 3rd Sig­nal Troops, also in Sher­brooke. He then joined the Sher­brooke Reg­i­ment. When war broke out in 1939, Ma­jor Lyon vol­un­teered for ac­tive ser­vice. He was first at­tached to Mcgill Univer­sity’s Cadet Of­fi­cer Train­ing Corp (COTC) in Mon­treal (1939-1940). In 1940, he joined the Sher­brooke Fusiliers Reg­i­ment, the fu­ture 27th Cana­dian Army Tank Reg­i­ment and, in 1943, the 27th Cana­dian Ar­moured Reg­i­ment (Sher­brooke Fusilier Reg­i­ment). In 1941, he was first gar­risoned in New­found­land be­fore go­ing with his reg­i­ment to Eng­land where he was at­tached to the 14th Army Tank Reg­i­ment (The Cal­gary Reg­i­ment). He was se­ri­ously wounded dur­ing a train­ing ex­er­cise in 1942 and was sub­se­quently de­mo­bi­lized from ac­tive duty in May 1943. He was pro­moted Lieu­tenant-colonel and, from 1943 to 1946, com­manded the 2nd Bat­tal­ion of the Sher­brooke Reg­i­ment (now part of The Sher­brooke Hus­sars). In 1947-1948, he was elected pres­i­dent of the Sher­brooke Fusiliers Reg­i­ment.

Due to his mil­i­tary ser­vice, Ber­tram Lyon be­came an hon­orary mem­ber of the Ro­tary Club in 1940, and was pres­i­dent from 1949 to 1950. At the start of the Cold War, an air­craft con­trol and warn­ing aux­il­iary unit of the Royal Cana­dian Air Force was set up in Sher­brooke from Septem­ber 1949 un­til De­cem­ber 1961. This was the 2450 Air­craft Con­trol and Warn­ing Unit (2450 AC/WU), com­manded by Squadron Leader Frank Wake­field Mc­crea. A mo­bile radar mounted on a con­voy of ve­hi­cles was sta­tioned in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions in the area, one of them on Ber­tram Lyon’s farm in 1950. Lyon died in Sher­brooke in 1986 and is buried with his wife in Is­land Brook ceme­tery.

Lyon Brook came close to mak­ing his­tory dur­ing the gold rush in the Eastern Town­ships in the 1860s. A ge­ol­o­gist had dis­cov­ered gold there but af­ter hav­ing dug five ex­plo­ration wells in 1866, one 10 me­ters deep, he only found but a few flakes.

PHOTO : COUR­TESY OF WILLIAM ARTHUR LYON, HAT­LEY

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