Monday, July 27, 2015

Hi Ho! Off to War We Go!

This Queen Anne style home was built in 1907 for Dr. Thomas Jeffs and Minnie Jeffs. The Jeffs came from Ontario to Vancouver in 1890.

When World War I was declared, Vancouver and the rest of the province were alarmed with the presence of the German cruisers Leipzig and Nuremberg off the coast. Bank gold reserves were sent to Seattle and to Winnipeg and arrangements were made to buy all stocks of currency if the city was raided. Armed protection was demanded for the harbour, which was eventually made a closed port. Small coast defence guns were mounted on concrete emplacements at Siwash Rock in Stanley Park.

August 8, 1914, the BC militia was placed on active service - two days after the rest of Canada. Vancouver's first contribution to the war effort was a detachment of 350 men sent to guard the port of Prince Rupert.

Local units were held under arms until September 12, when British naval forces arrived in the North Pacific. The emergency was over.

Dr. Jeffs was a physician and coroner who also served as an alderman in 1906 and the police commissioner in 1907. The Grandview neighbourhood features many houses like this but this one is unique because the turret is on the inside of the lot rather than on the corner. This allows for a spectacular view of the city, mountains and harbour.

Recruiting for the 1st Contingent, Canadian Expeditionary Force continued during this time. In 10 days, Vancouver contributed its full share. British Columbia had more officers on the rolls than any other province and more men than any other military districts except the 2nd Divisional Area (central Ontario) and MD No. 10 (Manitoba and Saskatchewan combined). Throughout the war, BC contributed more volunteers in proportion to its population than any other province.

The first detachment, 75 British reservists, left Vancouver on August 19 for active service. Three days later 46 officers and 1022 men left in two special trains. There were 25 officers and 516 men from the Seaforths, 14 officers and 350 men from the Fusiliers, two officers and 50 men from the 18th Field Ambulance, one officer and six men from the Corps of Guides. August 26, 20 officers and 350 men from the 6th Regiment, DCOR and a detachment of the 6th Field Company of the Engineers left with a large number of Victoria volunteers.

This house was divided into suites as early as 1922 - a year before Thomas Jeffs died - and the construction of larger homes was occurring in Shaughnessy. 

These detachments included the bulk of the peacetime militiamen and almost all the militia officers. What remained was a recruiting cadre who were funnelling volunteers into the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) where they were trained and assigned to battalions. Little concern was made when organizing these groups as to where the men were originally from.

In the 1st Contingent, most of the Vancouver men found themselves in either the 7th Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hart-McHarg with Major Victor W. Odlum second-in-command, or the 16th Battalion commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel R. G. Edwards Leckie. 

The restoration of the exterior as well as the development of the townhouses, was completed in 2013.

Thanks to the book Vancouver, From Milltown to Metropolis by Alan Morley for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill