2017 - Lougheed House

What’s the deal with Christmas cards?

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The Lougheeds were avid Christmas Card senders – you can see a few of their yearly holiday cards down in the Ballroom exhibition area, including some featuring photographs of the House, the garden, and even the family’s idyllic Banff residence, which they called “Restinghere.” As it turns out, people had been pestering each other with XMAS GREETINGS! for almost a hundred years before these particular cards were ever made! But how did we get here?

An early Christmas card from our archives (date unknown).

In 1843, Sir Henry Cole, first director of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, had a problem. Sir Cole didn’t just like holiday mail; he loved the post system so much that he had helped create the Uniform Penny Post, a crown corporation which monopolized the British postal system, allowing any British citizen to send mail anywhere in Great Britain and Ireland for a penny (est. between 1-5 modern GBP, or $1.69-8.47 CAD). Every holiday season, Cole was positively drowned in letters bearing Soppy Season’s Greetings – far too many to reply to. But on this particular year, he decided to take control the only way a Victorian Gentlemen knew how to, and mechanize the process!

Cole’s solution was to commission illustrator John Callcott Horsley to create a seasonal greeting card in dimensions that could be easily mailed. The design featured three generations of Coles raising a punch toast (the original holiday family photo, you might say), accompanied by the words “A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU,” with extra space for a brief customized greeting for each recipient. Using new chromolithographic processes, Sir Cole had 1000 colour post cards created, which he then used to respond to his mountains of seasonal mail. Ever the shrewd business man, he then sold the remaining cards for the (very steep) price of a shilling apiece.

An early Christmas card from our archives (date unknown).

Within a few years, scores of imitators flooded the market, driving the price down to the point where Christmas cards became an affordable working-class tradition. In November, 2001, one of Cole’s original cards, of which only a dozen are known to survive, became the most valuable postcard ever sold at auction, claiming £22,500 ($38,123 CAD). – Adam Sarjeant, Admissions Assistant

Getting to Know A Christmas Carol

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Like many of our visitors, you may be excited for our upcoming sold-out, solo performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol by Steven Méthot, a Calgary writer, storyteller and musician who performs the entire story from memory and animates the voices of all 30 characters.

What you might not be aware of is that this beloved holiday classic was just one of many books Dickens wrote in a very deliberate attempt to re-frame how British subjects thought about the Christmas season.

Steven Méthot as Charles Dickens

In 1843, Dickens returned to England after a year-long tour of the United States and Canada. Witnessing the effects of slavery strengthened Dickens’ faith in his progressive ideals, and within weeks of his return he resolved to embark on a project to “strike a sledge-hammer blow” for the poor and socially marginalized. At the time, Dickens was at the zenith of his popularity; Queen Victoria herself had publicly praised both Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers. Dickens was keenly aware that he had become a major social phenomenon, and that his next work would have the potential to seriously effect English society. Seizing on the recent popular revival of Christmas by the Oxford movement (a movement of Anglican ministers seeking to revive Catholic traditions), Dickens began a series of five short novels which he hoped could introduce his Progressive Humanist philosophy to a broader audience by encouraging his readers to view Christmas as synonymous with Humanist virtues such as charity, temperance and “good will towards men.” In 1843 he published the enormously popular A Christmas Carol, followed by The Chimes (1844), The Cricket on the Hearth (1845), which was more popular than both its predecessors until the 20th century, The Battle of Life (1846), and The Haunted Man and The Ghost’s Bargain (1848). All focused on Progressive themes, and all but The Battle of Life took place during the holidays.

Charles Dickens’ efforts were the opening salvo in an enormous shift in the culture of Christmas. Between 1843 and 1850, Traditions of gift-giving and other non-religious forms of celebration were gradually shifted from New Years’ Day to Christmas Day, while depictions of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their nine children celebrating Germanic Christmas traditions borrowed from Prince Albert’s Bavarian upbringing, helped to solidify a new way of celebrating Christmas in the home, as well as in the church. – Adam Sarjeant, Admissions Assistant

Origins of Remembrance Day

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Remembrance Day

“Trench art” cigar box from WWI.

Armistice Day was inaugurated across the British Commonwealth by King George V in 1919, and formed the basis for today’s Remembrance Day observances. The date was selected to commemorate the ceasefire declared by representatives of Germany and the Entente, “at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, at the 11th month,” in 1918. While today the June 28, 1919 signing of the Treaty of Versailles is more often recognized as the end of the Great War, it is important to bear in mind that for the average Canadian, the end of hostilities may have had greater personal value than any formal victory.

For Canadians, the day was first ratified in 1921, when the Canadian Parliament passed its Armistice Day bill, which solidified the date as a national holiday. For the majority of the 1920s, observances were performed by churches and other non-state organizations, and frequently incorporated into Thanksgiving services. In 1931, a group of veterans and other concerned Canadians successfully petitioned

Clarence Lougheed served oversees in WWI

Parliament to clearly separate the day from Thanksgiving, and to place greater emphasis on commemorating the sacrifice of those who served, as opposed to celebrating the Allied victory. That year, Armistice Day was revitalized under the new name, “Remembrance Day,” in keeping with similar name changes in other Commonwealth nations.

Though originally instituted to commemorate the First World War, Remembrance Day has since been expanded to recognize the service of those who participated in the Second World War, Korean War, and current veterans and servicepersons.




  • written by Adam Sarjeant

Who was Donald Alexander Smith?

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When examining the history of the Lougheeds it is interesting to note the family’s connection to Donald Alexander Smith, 1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, and one of the British Empire’s prominent financiers, builders, and philanthropists. Smith, perhaps better known as Lord Strathcona, can be seen below as the central figure hammering in the spike in the famous “Last Spike” photograph taken on November 7, 1885 at Craigellachie, British Columbia upon the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Donald Smith was married to Isabella Sophia Hardisty, Isabella Hardisty’s aunt and namesake, and so when James Lougheed married Isabella in 1884 he became connected to one of the richest men in Canada.

So how did Donald Smith become a prominent figure in Canadian History? While Smith’s rise to prominence was notable, it is not clear that he benefited from immediate advantages in social or economic standing. After completing schooling at Anderson’s Free School in the United Kingdom he immigrated to Canada in 1838, and became an apprentice clerk for the Hudson’s Bay Company. While Smith came from a “respectable, steady family” his father made a modest living as a saddler and the family grew up without considerable wealth or connections to power.[1] Soon after beginning his apprenticeship, Smith was promoted to a clerkship within the Hudson’s Bay Company, and was given increasing responsibilities within the company. From the time that he entered the organization, Smith’s approach was disruptive; he did not hesitate to point out inefficiencies within the organization, and in 1843 he even came under criticism from then Governor of the organization George Simpson. Ultimately, this way of approaching problems did not prevent Smith from rising within the Hudson’s Bay Company, and he reached the position of Chief Factor of the district of Labrador in 1862.

During the 1870s Smith branched out from his involvement in Hudson’s Bay Company and established his political career while also developing several additional business interests. In 1870 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, and in 1871 he was elected to the House of Commons for Selkirk. While Smith was a conservative he was not overly partisan. Smith also had the benefit of simultaneously sitting in government, and indeed acting as a Chief Commissioner of the HBC after 1871, while being able to advance his business interests in a number of industries. In the 1870s, he incorporated the Bank of Manitoba and Manitoba Insurance Company, while simultaneously developing business interest in the Manitoba Western Railway and the St. Paul Pacific Railroad. In 1872, he was appointed as the director of the Bank of Montreal, and while pursuing all of these ventures he maintained his position of principle shareholder in the Hudson’s Bay Company. Thus, through a combination of aptitude and good fortune, Smith amassed considerable wealth while establishing himself as a figure in Canadian politics.

While Smith may seem to be a distant figure today, he played a prominent role in building and financing a number of corporate and political ventures during a time of rapid change in Canada. His life also seems to raise the question of how his personal talents allowed him to amass a fortune and achieve considerable power in the newly formed Dominion of Canada. What caused Donald Smith’s rise in Canadian politics and business? While the role of luck and talent are difficult to separate, it seems likely that Donald Smith was able to apply his personal aptitudes and talents at a time when opportunities for political advancement and business expansion were open. He died in 1914 as one of the richest men in Canada, governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Chancellor of McGill University, and Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. While the cause of his considerable success may be difficult to determine, his influence on our collective history is certain.

– Sam, Volunteer Interpreter

[1] Donna McDonald, Lord Strathcona: A Biography of Donald Alexander Smith, (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1996), 14.

Sheffield Silver

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I found a lovely box down in the archives, and was expecting some medals, or maybe a certificate or an award. I got forks instead. Really cool forks, with only two tines, and some knives with super round tips. The set belonged to the Lougheeds as part of their original furnishings when they first moved into Beaulieu. These pieces are beautiful, so I did a little digging. Probably a little too much digging. As you’ve probably come to expect from me, I went back to the beginning.

Out of spoons, forks, and knives, spoons are by far the oldest. The first spoons would’ve been fashioned out of seashells, stones, or bits of wood, and probably didn’t even have handles. The earliest evidence for a handled spoon is from 1000 BCE in Egypt, where they were made from ivory, wood, flint, or slate. These heavily-decorated spoons were used for religious rites. Medieval Europe used spoons for much the same purpose, in addition to slurping; for a while, the British coronation ceremony involved being anointed via spoon. Spoons took on their modern form around the 18th century.

Forks are much the same in their history, except for the fact that they were actually kind of abhorred for a little while by some God-fearing Christians. St. Peter Damian, a Benedictine monk in the 11th century, once wrote that “God in his wisdom has provided man with natural forks – his fingers. Therefore it is an insult to Him to substitute artificial metallic forks for them when eating.” We eventually got over our fear of forks, though it took a few hundred years. They were popularized during the Renaissance, because people in Italy started using them to avoid getting filth on their food, and whatever the Italians were doing in the Renaissance was what everyone else wanted to do.

Knives started out as very convenient weapons – you could stab your dinner to death, and then eat it using the same tool. This worked pretty well up until the middle ages, when Louis XIV had had enough of drunk dinner guests putting holes in their cheeks (or each other’s cheeks, if they got mad). He decreed that all dinner knives would be rounded from then on, and that’s how we ended up with butter knives.

For most of its history, cutlery (from the Old French coutelier) was meant more for the upper classes. This began to change in the 18th century as manufacturing processes grew more streamlined. Even so, there were certain factories and locations that prided themselves on making high-end cutlery. The most famous is probably the English town of Sheffield, which was home to many skilled cutlers who produced exquisite cutlery sets over the last few hundred years.

The set I uncovered today is from Sheffield. Produced sometime between 1866 and 1900, this set of fruit service cutlery was made by HB&H: Harrison Brothers and Howson (who really should’ve used a clearer brand; it took me way too long to decipher their stamps). The blades are electroplated nickel silver, an imitation of the Chinese alloy paktong, and the handles are carved from mother of pearl. HB&B shut down during the Second World War, but the company was revived in 1978 and still make cutlery to this day. You can order some off their website, actually, and it looks like the quality hasn’t dropped a bit. Overall, considering that it came from Sheffield and the materials used in the construction, it’s no surprise that this cutlery set was fit for use in the sophisticated home of the Lougheeds.

-Jake, Summer Student

Golf in Alberta: A Fore-gone Conclusion

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Douglas Gordon Lougheed, youngest son of James and Isabella, was born September 3, 1901. Already a scratch golfer (one who usually shoots at or below par) by the age of seven, Douglas was practicing on the Banff Springs Hotel course at nine. Will Thompson, a professional golf coach, took young Douglas under his wing, declaring that he could be made a champion. The young Lougheed attended Western Canada College (what is now Western Canada High School, just a couple blocks from Lougheed House), where he was praised for his athleticism. He went on to study at University College in Victoria, and then spent a couple years working in Toronto insurance before returning to Calgary and joining the firm of Lougheed and Taylor.

In 1922, Douglas won the Alberta Junior Golf Championship. Two years later, he won the Alberta Amateur Golf Championship, his high-water mark in the sport. He continued to work for Lougheed and Taylor, and Pete Smith Motors, until his untimely death on October 15, 1931. Regardless, Douglas’s passion for golfing stayed with him his whole life.


The history of golf in Alberta begins as a story of people making do with what they had. It was brought west by the North-West Mounted Police, and then popularized with the arrival of the CPR. The first recorded game of golf played in Alberta took place at Fort Macleod in 1885 between David and Albert Browning. They used hickory clubs and balls made from sapodilla sap, a tree harvested in great numbers in eastern Asia, even though it was native to Mexico. Oh, and the sap balls sometimes exploded, since, you know, you hit them with clubs.

Also, because private citizens and nascent municipalities had more important things to do in 1885 than build real golf courses, most Alberta golfers had to play around fences, gopher holes, and indifferent cows. They had a special club, called a rutter, designed to play balls that had been caught in wagon ruts. They didn’t bother changing out of their work clothes to play, but they did supply their own sand for makeshift tees. One can only assume that they carried this sand around in their pockets all day, just in case they had to drop everything and play a couple holes. And when I say holes, I mean whatever was at hand; two determined Lethbridge golfers built a four-hole course out of tomato cans, after having the rules described to them by friends passing through town.

The first golf club (the organization, not the tool) was created by the North-West Mounted Police at Fort Macleod in 1895, and the Calgary Golf and Country Club was founded two years later. The first official golf championship was won by Charlie Hague in 1908 in Calgary, and every year afterward, the championship alternated between Calgary and Edmonton. The popularity of golf grew in lockstep with the number of wealthy Albertan citizens, but the outbreak of war in 1914 hit the golfing community hard. Many clubs, including the Fort Macleod Golf Club, were forced to close down for lack of players. Prohibition, introduced in 1916, also put the damper on things, as prohibition tends to do. Interest in golf bounced back after the war, and between 1919 and 1929, the number of Alberta golf clubs leaped from 9 to 65. In the photo below, you can see Edgar and Clarence Lougheed golfing in Banff – note the uniforms.

Since then, golf has flourished in Alberta. Its countless golf courses continue to adapt to an increasingly environmentally-conscious citizenry, using advanced water conservation and pest-management solutions to minimize the environmental impact of the sometimes obscenely huge golf courses in the province. At some point, they also started using metal clubs and normal, non-explosive balls, which, in my opinion, isn’t quite as exciting.

-Jake, Summer Student


Biblia Sacra Dei Familiaeque

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Family Bibles are designed to endure substantial use over successive generations, just like the scripture contained within. The Lougheeds’ is no exception. This particular Bible is called The People’s Standard Edition Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments and the Apocryphal Writings; it weighs a ton, and it is not playing around. The heavy leather cover and thick pages protect the book well, and it’s still in excellent condition almost 150 years later. Because of their resilience, family Bibles tended to serve double duty as both a conduit to God and a secure location to store important documentation. Many such Bibles are discovered with loose papers tucked between their pages. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort was found with this book, but its contents make up for that.

Like all family Bibles, the Lougheeds’ contained a section dedicated to the family’s history. A marriage certificate immediately follows the Old Testament, and is signed by the minister who officiated Sir James’s and Lady Isabella’s wedding. The certificate is wonderfully illuminated, and is accompanied by several pages detailing the births, marriages, deaths, and other significant events (mostly christenings) of James and Isabella’s children. Those records are written in many hands, and cover roughly fifty years of events. In fact, this book was still being used by the Lougheeds after this home was repossessed by the government in 1938!

This Bible, unlike many other family tomes, isn’t limited to scripture. Fittingly enough for a family of intellectuals, the book also contains several sections which fill in the details surrounding the holy stories, including an eighty-page preface that explores the literature, history, and inspiration of the Bible itself. That preface is filled with sketches of holy sites both extant and lost, analyses of ancient Egyptian and Assyrian culture and custom, alphabets of dead languages, and thorough historical examinations of each of the books of the Bible. It even explores the Greek roots of the word “Bible” (from biblos, meaning “the book”). The appendices include a dictionary of Bible terms, a pronunciation guide, and space for some (sadly empty) family portraits. Essentially, this massive book was meant to be the final word on the Holy Word.

The book was published in the United States in 1876, and was available through subscription. Unlike a lot of the furniture in the house, which was auctioned off in the 1930s and has found its way back to us over the years, the Lougheed Bible never left the family. It’s tough to appreciate the beauty of this book if it just sits in storage, so it’s taking centre stage up here instead!

-Jake, Summer Student

Let’s Try Not Setting Our Houses on Fire From Now On

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On the chronological list of Things People Learned How to Do, heating their homes (well, caves) came in at number three, right after bipedal motion and hunting with tools. That’s pretty crazy if you think about it; we went straight from tying sharp rocks onto the ends of sticks to taming one of nature’s most destructive phenomena. Depending on who you ask, that happened anywhere from 300, 000 to 1.6 million years ago, and until relatively recently, we didn’t change much. Even by the end of the 17th century, homes were heated by setting a fire somewhere inside and letting the heat move around the house through channels in the construction. The Romans did it by leaving space under their floors and letting the warm air and smoke of a fire percolate there before escaping up a flue. The ancient Koreans did the same thing, only they used their cooking fire as the heat source, thereby saving resources. Despite the constant risk of housefires, this was the most efficient method. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

In the middle of the 19th century, people decided it was broke, so they fixed it.

By the time Beaulieu was built in 1891, a much safer (and some would say more elegant) solution to the heating problem had been developed: radiators. You’ll notice radiators in almost every room on the first and second floors of the Lougheed House. Far from the hulking, cumbersome machines you might expect, these cast-iron radiators blend seamlessly with the décor of the house. The dull-gold “hot boxes” (an archaic term used by Franz San Galli, one of the pioneers of radiator technology) are inlaid with ornamental patterns. They remain in the house today because they are still in operation — the house is heated using the same radiators first used by the Lougheeds in 1891!

Back then, and still to this day, the heating system was powered by the house’s boiler, which ran first on coal, and then on natural gas once the pipes were laid in Calgary in the 1910s. All the radiators in the house were constructed by the E. & C. Gurney Co. Stove Works, a company based out of Toronto. Gurney supplied all sorts of heating implements to homes throughout Canada. Amazingly (and bizarrely), they refused to ship their machinery via train, even after the CPR was completed. This means that every single one of the Lougheeds’ radiators was driven from Toronto to Calgary in a wagon, a trip that would have taken weeks. The same is true for the stove they had in their family cottage in Banff; it would’ve been pulled up into the mountains by horse!

Though every radiator in the house is built by Gurney, they are not all alike. Radiators had to roughly reflect the size and shape of the space they were to heat, so you’ll see ones that are short, tall, long, or thick depending on the room you’re in.  Despite their different dimensions, they all run on steam from the boiler. In the summer, they’re rarely on, but be careful in the winter; they can become too hot to touch!

-Jake, Summer Student

Dueling Pianos

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It’s rare to find a person who doesn’t listen to music these days. Radio, vinyl, cassettes, CDs, and MP3s give us all sorts of ways to appreciate music. It’s with us everywhere, too; at home, in the car, at the mall, or even just on a walk. I’m listening to music right now, as I write. This explosion of access may be rather young, but the pure enjoyment of music is, obviously, much older. So, what did people used to do to get their music fix? Well, they could’ve gone to catch a show, assuming they were in the right place, at the right time, with the right amount of money. Usually, however, they played their own music. And in the 19th century, nothing said “fancy family” quite like owning your own piano.

The piano, as we know it today, was invented around 1700. By the time the Lougheeds built Beaulieu in 1891, pianos were firmly entrenched among socialites. Of course, being the sophisticated, genteel woman she was, Isabella Lougheed made sure that her new home had one of the finest pianos you could buy at the time: a Gerhard Heintzman.

Heintzman & Co. was incorporated in Toronto in 1866 by Theodor August Heintzman, who was born in Berlin in 1817 and had emigrated to Canada in 1860. Theodor had a nephew, Gerhard, who also made pianos. Even though Gerhard worked independently from his uncle, both Heintzmans’ pianos were renowned for their quality (the two family branches would merge in 1926 after Gerhard’s death). In fact, Canadian piano manufacturing in general was highly regarded, to the point where only a handful of foreign-made pianos were imported to Canada once the industry had established itself.

One of the few brands of piano that Canadians bothered to import were those built by Steinway and Sons. The company was founded in New York in 1853 by Henry E. Steinway, who had been building pianos in Germany since the 1920s under his real name, Heinrich Englehard Steinweg. Heinrich’s pianos were top-notch, as were his marketing skills; according to Donald W. Fostle, who wrote a history of the company,


“the genius of Steinways … ultimately lay in their ability to persuade millions of persons across decades and continents that in this realm of supreme subjectivity, individual variation, incertitude, and ever-changing conditions, there was an absolute best. The assertion, repeated often enough, took on the coloration of fact.”


If that’s true, then why didn’t the Lougheeds get a Steinway instead of a Heintzman? They certainly had the money to import one over the border. James grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood in Toronto (named Cabbagetown, no less; it doesn’t get any more working-class than that). Perhaps he wanted to support a burgeoning Canadian industry rather than an international one.

The Heintzman was built in 1891 and shipped to Calgary on the new Canadian Pacific Railway. The Lougheeds put it in the Mission Room, where it would have provided many hours of entertainment for the whole family. If you visit the Lougheed House today, you can still find that same piano down in the library. If you look up in the mission room, you’ll find an 1885 Steinway (pictured above), acquired for the house in 2007 and dominating the spot where the Lougheeds’ Heintzman used to sit. Apparently, Steinway’s marketing game is still as strong as ever.

-Jake, Summer Student

Supply and Command

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Hello there! I’m Jake, a history student working at Lougheed House over the summer. I haven’t been here long, but I’ve already learned about so many fascinating things that I’ve just gotta share with somebody, so here goes!

Clarence Hardisty Lougheed, eldest son of James and Isabella, signed up to go to war barely a month after his thirtieth birthday. He wasn’t destined for the front lines, though. Having already served five years with the 15th Light Horse and another year with the Canadian Army Service Corps, Clarence was enlisted as a captain. From 1915 to 1919, Clarence once again served in the CASC. Before his promotion to major, his men gifted him this gold wristwatch (#20).

The CASC was created in 1901. Until its deactivation in 1968, the CASC was the lifeblood of Canadian fighting forces around the world. Along with other support corps, like the Canadian Ordnance Corps, the Canadian Veterinary Corps, and the Canadian Postal Corps, CASC troops were relied upon to ensure that frontline soldiers received the supplies, materiel, and support necessary to keep them operating smoothly.

When war broke out in 1914, the CASC counted around three thousand men among its ranks. By the time the war ended, that number had leapt to seventeen thousand. Operating mainly in Britain and France during the First World War, the CASC was responsible for virtually every facet of logistical support. If a frontline soldier needed bread, bullets, or bandages, chances are it was the CASC who delivered it to him.

Clarence was first deployed with No. 1 Railhead Supply Detachment, which he commanded from January to July 1916. This is an excerpt from the unit’s War Diary, a day-by-day report recorded in Clarence’s tidy, looping hand. Note the signature on the bottom-right.

Service troops oversaw the entirety of the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s supply lines, which they divided into three parts: The first line of supply saw materiel transported from railheads to supply dumps via trucks or light rail; the second line of supply consisted of horse-drawn carts carrying the supplies from the dumps to the rear zones of frontline units; the third line of supply required combat troops to return to the rear of the unit under cover of darkness and carry their new supplies back in their arms. This, of course, was incredibly dangerous. Not only did they leave the relative safety of the trenches to make these supply runs, but their absence also weakened the whole front line. Eventually, an officer from Montreal introduced the use of tumplines — backpacks secured with a strap across the forehead, first used by the First Nations of Canada — which meant fewer men could carry more supplies to the front.

The CASC also provided transportation for combat troops, the evacuation and transportation of wounded soldiers, equipment repair, and mail delivery services. They were even responsible for the salvage of enemy assets abandoned on the field. The corps was rarely involved in direct combat, but it wasn’t unusual for service members to encounter enemy artillery or gas attacks. Over the course of the war, three hundred sixty-three CASC troops were wounded, including Clarence himself, and one hundred and four were killed.

-Jake, Summer Student

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