Glen­garry’s con­nec­tions on all fronts

The Glengarry News - - News - BY MAR­GARET CALDBICK News Staff

On Thurs­day, Oc­to­ber 31, 1918, a young woman from Green­field in Glen­garry died at the Rock Is­land Post Hos­pi­tal in Illi­nois.

Nurs­ing Sis­ter Janet McIn­tosh was a Red Cross nurse on ac­tive duty who had been posted to the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal and suc­cumbed to the 1918 Span­ish flu pan­demic. She was 34.

The daugh­ter of Mr. and Mrs. D.J. McIn­tosh, Miss McIn­tosh was ac­corded full mil­i­tary hon­ours in Rock Is­land and her re­mains were in­terred at Green­field Novem­ber 4, 1918.

The Red Cross War Memo­rial in Lan­caster and the Glen­garry Ceno­taph in Alexan­dria both bear her name.

Miss McIn­tosh was among ap­prox­i­mately 60 Cana­dian nurses who died dur­ing the First World War as a re­sult of ill­ness or from di­rect ac­tion. A to­tal of 3,141 women served with the Cana­dian Army Med­i­cal Corps dur­ing the 5 years of the First World War.

An­other lo­cal nurse who served was Jessie Maude McLen­nan from Lan­caster, who sur­vived se­ri­ous trench fever af­ter be­ing posted to a Cana­dian mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal in the an­cient Balkan city of Salonika, now called Thes­sa­loniki in Greece.

Three other Glen­garry nurses joined the U.S. army -- Alena Mac­Don­ald, Alma Lighthall, and Cather­ine Ge­lin­eau who was from Quigley’s Cor­ners (Lochiel Ham­let). Edith Ray­side from Lan­caster had an im­pres­sive role in the war, be­ing pro­moted to Ma­tron-in-Chief in Canada.

Glen­garry’s nurses in ser­vice dur­ing the First World War served as the in­tro­duc­tion to the “Glen­garry Con­nec­tions” seg­ment of lo­cal his­to­rian Robin Flock­ton’s talk, “Glen­garry Con­nec­tions on all fronts: St. Lu­cia to Siberia, 19141919,” at a re­cent spe­cial meet­ing and din­ner hosted by the Glen­garry His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety at the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion branch 544 in Lan­caster.

The evening com­mem­o­rated 100 years since the end of The Great War and in­cluded ar­ti­facts brought for the evening by mem­bers of the au­di­ence and the Glen­garry Nor’Westers and Loy­al­ist Mu­seum in Wil­liamstown. The event also in­cluded a talk by Leon Chamois, Se­nior Cu­ra­tor of the SD&G High­landers’ Reg­i­men­tal Mu­seum in Corn­wall who brought along a very in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­fact from the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion to il­lus­trate his dis­cus­sion of the SD&G High­landers and the First World War. Mr. Chamois ex­plained that the 59th Stor­mont and Glen­garry Mili­tia Reg­i­ment was placed on ac­tive ser­vice on 6 Au­gust 1914 for lo­cal pro­tec­tion du­ties only be­cause Sir Sam Hughes, Canada's iras­ci­ble and com­bat­ive Min­is­ter of Mili­tia and De­fence from Oc­to­ber 1911 to Novem­ber 1916, who or­ga­nized the Cana­dian Ex­pe­di­tionary Force, de­ter­mined that Canada’s ex­ist­ing mili­tia units would not go to war.

In­stead, Sam Hughes cre­ated an en­tire du­pli­cate sys­tem of overseas bat­tal­ions to the great dis­ap­point­ment of Cana­dian per­ma­nent force mili­tia who yearned to join forces overseas. “We were the 59th Stor­mont and Glen­garry be­cause Dun­das was in the next mili­tia unit,” ex­plained Mr. Chamois. “We thought we were go­ing to war. In­stead Hughes de­ter­mined that be the 154th Overseas Bat­tal­ion, CEF, would be raised in our area.”

The 154th would be raised in Stor­mont, Dun­das and Glen­garry.

“This was a slap in the face to a lot of peo­ple,” said Mr, Chamois, “Be­cause it was es­sen­tially ig­nor­ing the en­tire ex­ist­ing mil­i­tary sys­tem.” To fur­ther com­pli­cate the mat­ter, it be­came ap­par­ent that they were send­ing the num­bered bat­tal­ions overseas nu­mer­i­cally, not an en­cour­ag­ing sit­u­a­tion for the 154th who saw some mem­bers rush to en­list in other lower num­bered overseas bat­tal­ions.

At this point, Mr. Chamois asked two vol­un­teers to care­fully un­fold and bring forth an ar­ti­fact, a silk flag that had been com­mis­sioned by the Im­pe­rial Or­der of the Daugh­ters of the Em­pire (IODE) when war was de­clared.

“You can see that there is some­thing that doesn’t seem right,” said Mr. Chamois. And in­deed, it’s ob­vi­ous that the word Dun­das has been added later to the 154th’s flag, squeezed di­ag­o­nally be­tween the ex­ist­ing Stor­mont and Glen­garry. “It’s be­cause when the 59th went to war, Dun­das was thrown in,” said Mr. Chamois. “By the way, when I give this talk in Dun­das, it’s en­tirely dif­fer­ent,” said Mr. Chamois to loud laugh­ter from the room. Robin Flock­ton con­tin­ues to do ex­cel­lent re­search on Glen­garry his­tory and his talk Oc­to­ber 18 was no ex­cep­tion. Mr. Flock­ton’s talk was a tour of the “For­got­ten Fronts of the Great War” with con­nec­tions to Glen­garry when­ever pos­si­ble. It was a thor­ough talk, filled with anec­dotes, and per­haps sur­pris­ing to some in the room, among the 1,600 men and women who left the peace and quiet of Glen­garry and spread across the world be­tween 1914 and 1918, some found them­selves in the­atres of The Great War far from the West­ern Front -- Macedonia, Ser­bia, Me­sopotamia, the East­ern Front, the Cau­ca­sus, the North Rus­sian Ex­pe­di­tionary Force and the Siberian Ex­pe­di­tionary Force. The event took place at the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion branch 544 Lan­caster which do­nated the hall for the event and was pre­sented by the Glen­garry His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety.

MAR­GARET CALDBICK PHOTO

IM­POR­TANT EM­BLEM: Vol­un­teers Dun­can McRae and Owen Robert­son, both from Bainsville, hold an im­por­tant ar­ti­fact from the SD&G High­landers’ Reg­i­men­tal Mu­seum in Corn­wall, a silk flag com­mis­sioned by the Im­pe­rial Or­der of the Daugh­ters of the Em­pire for the 59th Stor­mont and Glen­garry Bat­tal­ion of In­fantry that had to be changed to have Dun­das added af­ter the 154th Overseas Bat­tal­ion be­gan re­cruit­ing in Dun­das. In front is Leon Chamois, Se­nior Cu­ra­tor of the SD&G High­landers’ Reg­i­men­tal Mu­seum in Corn­wall who brought the flag.

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