Thursday, 1 July 2010

Trapper trapped

My perusal of attestation papers for the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in the First World War revealed some unusual details, some actually quite tragic.

A 31-year old trapper from the Canadian Northwest Territories, George Mckenzie, was apprehended on 14 October 1918 after not reporting for military duty. Since 1917, the military draft had been in force in Canada. The numbers of volunteers had seemingly dropped off dramatically as the heroic battles on the Western Front showed themselves to be pointless bloodbaths in which thousands of Canadian lads had perished. George Mckenzie had been called up 11 months previously, but not reported for duty. His place of residence is quoted as Fort Smith, a settlement on the Salt River on the border between Alberta and Northwest Territories. He was born in 1887 in Fort Resolution, 60 miles to the north on the shores of the Great Slave Lake. If he was a trapper, it stands to reason he would not receive his summons for nearly a year. What caused his hospital admission is not known (at this stage).

George Mckenzie died in hospital in Edmonton, 500 miles south of Fort Smith, without his details being recorded by the military authorities.

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