Arthur Howard's signature

On this day in 1915 Arthur Howard enlisted in Kingston. He was born in that city on 17 January 1895, the son of Ethel (née Norton) and Herbert Howard and was a student at Queen’s University when he signed up. Herbert Howard was the accountant for the Bank of Montreal in Deseronto and his family were living in the apartment above the bank (now the Town Hall) at the time of the 1911 census.

Sid (as he was known) signed up under the name Albert and he added a year to his age, claiming to have been born in 1894. He joined the 26th Battery of the 7th Canadian Field Artillery Brigade as a driver with the regimental number 89754. When he enlisted, Sid was described as five feet eight inches tall, with a dark complexion, blue eyes and black hair.

Sid Howard’s neice, Cynthia Tappay, tells us that after serving in France he volunteered for service in the Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force and served in Russia from October 1918 to July 1919. The family story is that Sid and his friend Dough Jemmett smuggled an orphaned Russian boy back to Canada with them and the boy ended up in Northern Ontario. Sid returned to Deseronto after leaving the army and moved to Salt Lake City in Utah in September 1919 to work for his uncle Bill (his father’s brother). He married Ellen [?] of Nisqually, Washington around 1921 and became naturalized as an American on June 21, 1928 in Tacoma, Washington. By the time of the 1930 census the couple had a son called Robert. Sid died of a tetanus infection in Tacoma on November 22, 1934.

Arthur Markle's signature

On this day in 1915, Arthur Markle was one of 46 men from the 5th Battalion  killed in action in an attack on German trenches at the Battle of Festubert in France. The battalion’s war diary describes the engagement:

5th Battalion war diary for 23-24 May 1915

5th Battalion war diary for 23-24 May 1915 at Library and Archives Canada


…May 24th 1915 K-5 [a German trench and machine-gun redoubt] was attacked at 2.35 a.m.; taken and held until relieved at midnight 24th/25th May.

Casualties:- 13 officers and 259 other ranks

Killed:- Major D. Tenaille; Capt. J.R. Innes-Hopkins; Capt. J. M. Currie; Capt. D. Meikle; Capt. C.E. McGee and 11 N.C.O’s and 30 men

Wounded:-Major N. I. Edgar; Major G. G. Morrris; Major E. Thornton; Capt. Geor. Endacott; Capt. Stanley Anderson; Capt. F. R. Davies, Lieut. D. Rundell; Lieut. B.C. Quinan and 30 N.C.O’s and 174 men

One non-commissioned officer and 13 men were listed missing in addition to these casualties.

As Arthur was buried near the front line his grave was not marked. He is remembered on the Vimy Ridge memorial.

Arthur Markle's casualty record

Circumstances of casualty record at Library and Archives Canada for Arthur Markle


Marlene Brant Castellano and wampum beltsMarlene Brant Castellano got our summer series of local history talks off to a great start with her examination of the local history of the Bay of Quinte from a Mohawk perspective.

Marlene used reproductions of two famous wampum belts to tell the story of the Mohawk people’s interactions with Europeans, beginning with the treaty represented by the Two-Row Wampum in 1613 with the Dutch. The two purple rows of the belt were intended to show the parallel courses of a European ship and a Haudenosaunee canoe, bound together by friendship, peace and respect. The other belt, the Friendship Belt, represents the Covenant Chain connecting the two peoples: a chain of silver which needs to be regularly polished by both groups in order to maintain its shine.

Marlene got the audience involved from the beginning, with questions about the importance of family roots and stories and what they mean to us. Until recently, formal education in Canada paid little or no attention to native people’s own histories, while the use of native languages was actively repressed for many years. Marlene noted that this has now changed and Indigenous children are now able to connect to their stories and language in a way that people of British descent may have taken for granted in the more Anglo-centric teaching of the past.

The stories associated with wampum belts have endured within these communities for hundreds of years, and Marlene explained that a thorough knowledge of their meaning and importance is a key part of being a chief. A chief, she noted, is an archivist, as well as a leader!

History talks poster


Tomorrow sees the first in a new series of talks on local history. We are delighted to welcome Marlene Brant Castellano to Deseronto Public Library to talk on the topic of ‘Mohawks and Settlers: neighbours throughout history’.

The talk is free to attend and all are welcome. It starts at 1pm and will be followed by refreshments. We hope to see you there!

Date: May 23rd

Location: Deseronto Public Library

Time: 1pm – 2pm


The next talk in the series, ‘The Development of Deseronto’ will take place on June 20th (same time, same place).

James Edward Clarence Brennan's signature

James Edward Clarence Brennan signed up in Kingston on this day in 1915. Brennan was born in Bogart, Ontario on October 9th, 1897, the son of Frank Brennan and Annie (née Hogan). The Brennans were living in Deseronto in the 1901 and 1911 censuses and James Edward Clarence attended the Deseronto High School.

When he signed up, Brennan was five feet, four and three-quarters inches tall, with a medium complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. He had been working as a ‘Timekeeper’. His regimental number was 89751 in the 26th Battalion. His service record shows that he arrived in England on August 18th, 1915 and left for France on January 16th, 1916 to serve with the Canadian Field Artillery. Brennan was with the 5th Brigade at Mill Cott, east of Ypres, when he was injured by a shell on November 16th, 1917. The war diary of his unit noted the injury:

Clarence Brennan injured

Extract from war diary of the 5th Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery, courtesy of Library and Archives Canada

Mill Cott Nov 16/17 … 1 O.R. [other rank] wounded …

The previous page of the war diary noted that on November 16th there had been:

Very heavy enemy Barrage laid down between 12.30-2.30 Pm in back country. Heavy intermittent shelling of our batteries.

Clarence had shrapnel wounds to his left thigh, calf and ankle and was temporarily deafened in his left ear by the blast of the shell. He spent the next few months in hospital in England, recovering from his injuries, but was left unable to walk properly, suffering from foot drop. He was discharged back to Canada, arriving in June 1918 on the hospital ship Goorkha. Brennan was discharged from the army on August 21st, 1918, classified as medically unfit for further service and eligible for a pension due to his disability.

He married Evelyn May Fairbairn on September 15th, 1921, in Pembroke, Ontario.

Norman Armitage in 1914

Norman Armitage's signatureNorman Charles Armitage signed up on this day in 1915. He was born in Lindsay, Ontario, the son of Elias Armitage and Hattie (née Fryer) on October 25th, 1896. In the 1901 and 1911 censuses the family were living in Deseronto, where Norman attended the High School. The picture above was taken in 1914 when Norman was a member of the Deseronto Fire Team.

On enlisting at Kingston, Armitage was five feet six and a half inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and light hair. He gave his occupation as ‘Clerk’. His regimental number was 89750 and he joined the 26th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His service record shows that he arrived in England on August 18th, 1915 and initially was assigned to the 7th Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery, stationed in Westenhanger, Kent. In May 1916 he went to France and served with the 3rd Divisional Trench Mortar Battery and the 3rd Divisional Ammunition Column.

He had trench fever in December 1917, which left him weakened and suffering from dizziness, chest pain and shortness of breath. In March 1918 he was examined by a medical board which recommended that he be invalided to Canada. He arrived back in Halifax on July 3rd on the RMS Empress of Britain and was discharged in Kingston on August 9th, 1918 as medically unfit for further service.

Norman Armitage married Kathleen Maracle on January 27th, 1923 in Windsor, Ontario. They had four children (their son Robert was killed while serving with the Canadian Navy in the Second World War). Norman died on February 21, 1976 in Napanee Hospital. He was buried in Deseronto Cemetery.

John Wesley Lindsay's signature

On this day in 1915, John Wesley Lindsay joined up in Belleville. He was born in Deseronto on May 27th, 1894 to James Lindsay and Della (née Howard). He was described as five feet, nine and a half inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair.

Lindsay joined the 39th Battalion with a regimental number of 413021.

John Wesley Lindsay survived the war and married Pancy Grace Maracle in Toronto on April 5th, 1922. The photograph below shows Pansy Lindsay when she was working for the Metcalfe canning factory in Deseronto in the 1930s.

Pansy Lindsay

John Wesley Lindsay died on October 20th, 1949 and is buried in the Deseronto Cemetery.


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