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Commemorating the Waterloo Regions War Dead

The purpose of this website is to examine how the Waterloo Region experienced the First World War. A significant part of this experience was the loss of regional men therefore, discussing the lives of the region’s war dead is an essential section of this website. In 2014, The Record created the “Remembering The Great War” database containing basic information on the 469 local men and one woman who died in the First World War. In order to avoid simply restating this information we have attempted to breathe life into the lives of these soldiers by constructing short biographies of each with a focus on the their lives prior to enlistment. This project is ongoing; therefore, at this time the section contains stories on the region’s soldiers killed in 1915.

This project can only be crafted thanks to the hard work of various organizations dedicated to commemorating Canadian war dead. Through archives around the world undertaking the long process of digitizing and releasing their holdings online, projects such as these can exist. Below are the major resources used to bring these soldier’s stories to life. If you are interested in conducting research on your own ancestors, click on the pictures below, and they will direct you to in your search.

We hope that these stories will help to humanize and localize the First World War experience. Thank you.

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Lieutenant Ross Dickinson Briscoe

Ross Dickinson Briscoe was born on June 20th, 1891 in Dunville, Ontario to Reuben Alfred Briscoe and Florence Alexander Root. Ross’ father worked as a dry goods merchant who owned R.A. Briscoe Limited, which allowed him to provide a comfortable life for the family. Reuben and Florence had a daughter named Marjorie in 1900, before Ross’ mother’s untimely death from pneumonia. His father later remarried and had another daughter. Ross was an educated young man who worked as a blank clerk as well as was a member of the Galt Cadet Corps.

When war broke out in August 1914, Ross was one of the first from the Waterloo Region to volunteer to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force to fight for the 9th Reserve Infantry Battalion. He was quickly promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, likely as a result of his military experience with the Cadet Corps, his middle class standing, and his education. After completing the first stage of training at Valcartier Camp in Quebec, the soldiers were sent overseas to participate in more training prior to being put into active duty in the trenches. Then on January 6th, 1915 Ross was accidentally shot on a rifle range during training on the Salisbury Plain in England. Lieutenant Ross Dickinson Briscoe was the first from the Waterloo region to die during the First World War, and he is buried at Bulford Church Cemetery in England.

Service number: N/A


Jeff Outhit, “Galt soldier died but never faced the enemy,” The Record, last modified September 26, 2014,
“Canadian Virtual War Memorial: Ross Dickinson Briscoe,” Veterans Affairs Canada, accessed Feb 17, 2015,


Private John Robert Jeffs

John Robert Jeffs was born in either 1883 or 1884 to Charles and Jane Jeffs in Leicester, England. John later immigrated to Canada at some point before 1914, settling in the Waterloo region. John volunteered to join the 34th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Before departing for the Western Front, John became sick. He was admitted to Galt General Hospital on March 14th, 1915 with a cold that then developed into pneumonia. Despite being given adequate care and medical attention, John succumbed to pneumonia on March 17th, 1915. Private John Robert Jeffs is buried in the Cambridge (Trinity Church) Cemetery.

Service number: A/2117


“John Jeffs,” Find A Grave, accessed March 20, 2015,


Private George Barker

George Charles Barker was just 18 years old when he volunteered to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on September 22nd 1914. He was born to Mary Ann Barker (father was not listed) on January 12th 1896 in Brentwood Essex Co, England. He and his family later immigrated to Canada, where George spent a year with the 29th Regiment in Canada and worked as a buffer and polisher in Galt (Cambridge), Ontario. When war broke out in the summer of 1914, George volunteered with the first batch of Canadians to go off and fight. On or before April 22nd 1915 during the 2nd Battle of Ypres, George was reported as wounded and missing, and was later presumed dead. Private George Barker is commemorated at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

Service number: 7120


“Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial,” Commonwealth War Graves Commission, accessed March 24, 2015,


Corporal Henry Charles Brade

Henry Charles Brade was born on October 17th 1883 in Manchester, England. He was the older brother to three sisters, Florence, Mary, and Alice. After Henry lost his first wife, he married Ethel Atack on June 15th 1912 in the Church of England. Within the next two years Henry and Ethel immigrated to Canada, living in Galt (Cambridge). Henry worked as a machinist both in England and in Canada. When the First World War was declared, Henry, having experience fighting for the Lancashire Fusiliers decided to volunteer for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Henry served as a Corporal in France and Belgium. On April 22nd 1915, at the age of 31 Henry was killed in action. Corporal Henry Charles Brade* is commemorated at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Service number: 6997


“Four Galt Men Killed,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 11 May 1915.
*The newspaper article refers to Henry Brade as a Sergeant but his Service File records him as a Corporal


Private James Leith

James Leith was born on March 27th, 1895 in Aberdeen, Scotland. James was one of seven children born to Alexander and Jane Leith. The family immigrated to Canada on July 3rd, 1910 on board the SS Athenia. After settling in Galt (Cambridge), James’ father worked as a road labourer, his older brother Alex was a machinist and he worked as a labourer for an iron foundry.

James was a member of the 29th Regiment for one month when war broke out in 1914. James volunteered to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and fought for the 1st Battalion in Belgium. Sadly at just 20 years old James was killed in action on April 22nd, 1915 during an attack at St. Julien during the Second Battle of Ypres. Following James’ death, his brother Alex volunteered to join the CEF; he fought on the Western Front and as returned safety home after the war. Private James Leith is commemorated at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.

Service number: 7054


“Canadian Virtual War Memorial: James Leith,” Veterans Affairs Canada, accessed March 21, 2015,


Sergeant Ernest John Rowe

Ernest John Rowe was born to John William and Mary Rowe on September 1st, 1883 in England. After immigrating to Canada, Ernest fell in love and married a woman named Emma from London, Ontario. They lived together in Galt (Cambridge) while Ernest worked as a machinist and was a member of the 29th Waterloo Regiment militia.

Upon the declaration of war in August 1914, Ernest as a member of the militia joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force where he was quickly promoted up the ranks to Sergeant. Ernest fought in No. 2 Company of the 1st Battalion in Belgium. Ernest was killed in action on April 22nd, 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres. While it is not known for sure how Ernest died, April 22nd, 1915 was the day on which the Germans first employed the use of chlorine gas as form of chemical warfare, and it is possible Ernest was one of its casualties. Sergeant Ernest John Rowe is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.

Service number: 7001


“Canadian Virtual War Memorial: Ernest John Rowe,” Veterans Affairs Canada, accessed March 21, 2015, memorial/detail/1595729?Ernest%20John%20Rowe


Lieutenant Thomas Downie Lockhart

Thomas Downie Lockhart was born on January 25th, 1879 in Scotland to Archibald and Margaret Lockhart. Thomas and his family moved to Canada where he worked as a contractor for many years with his brother. At 35 years old and a bachelor, Thomas was “one of the most popular military men in Galt,” and was an active member of the 29th Regiment. Thomas was one of the first men from Galt (Cambridge) to volunteer to fight for the Canadian Expeditionary Force in August 1914. Thomas’s brother Archie stayed home and tended to their mother and their plumbing and steam heating business. Thomas was promoted to Captain for the 1st Battalion in Belgium. On May 13th 1915 Archie received a telegram that said,

“Dear Mr. Lockhart – I deeply regret to report the death of your brother Captain T.D. Lockhart on the forenoon of Friday 23rd inst. He was leading his platoon in a charge over a long stretch of open country which afforded no cover and just before reaching an old trench about 600 yards from the enemy he was struck by a bullet and was carried into the trench where he lived only a few minutes. The casualty list was very heavy and I was the only officer in your brother’s company not seriously hurt… Major Kimmins had taken your brother’s valuables and put them in his own kit, but he next was killed… Your mother and yourself have the most sincere sympathy of the officers of the 1st Battalion. I am yours very truly, P.W. Pick, Lieut. First Battalion.”

Thomas left behind his mother, four brothers, and two sisters. Lieutenant Thomas Downie Lockhart is commemorated at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.

Service number: N/A

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“Thomas Downie Lockhart,” Waterloo Region Generations, assessed March 20, 2015,
“Capt. Lockhart Was Killed in Action,” The Waterloo Chronicle, May 13, 1915.


Private Frederick Augusta Blacklock

Frederick Augusta Blacklock was born on May 16th 1885 in Milton, Ontario. He grew up in the Waterloo region. Frederick was 29 and working as a tailor in Galt (Cambridge) when the First World War broke out. He volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force on August 29th 1914. Frederick fought bravely with the 3rd Battalion (Toronto Regiment). During the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915 Frederick was reported missing. Frederick’s comrades later reported him having been killed by shrapnel on April 24th 1915. Private Frederick Augusta Blacklock’s body was never recovered but he is commemorated at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Service number: 9770


“Canadian Virtual War Memorial: Frederick Augusta Blacklock,” Veterans Affairs Canada, accessed March 15, 2015,


Private Edwin James Sutton

Edwin James Sutton was born on May 24, 1895 to James and Annie Sutton in Wales. After immigrating with his family to Canada and settling in Galt (Cambridge), Ontario Edwin worked as a labourer. Edwin decided to be one of the first to volunteer to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Edwin fought in the Canadian Infantry (Western Ontario Regiment) in Belgium. Sadly, on April 30th, a week after the beginning of the Second Battle of Ypres, Edwin was killed in action at just 19 years old. Private Edwin James Sutton is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.

Service number: 7085

1596408_4  1596408_2

“Canadian Virtual War Memorial: Edwin James Sutton,” Veterans Affairs Canada, accessed March 21, 2015,
“Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial,” Commonwealth War Graves Commission, accessed March 24, 2015,