William Price

Sir William enlists the boy scouts of Quebec to act as messenger runners so he can quickly communicate with many groups throughout the port area.

It is early October 1914, the Great War is barely two months old. The first contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force is moving out of Valcartier Camp to embark aboard 30 transports in the port of Quebec, and to sail for England. 31, 200 men, vehicles, equipment and supplies, and 7,000 horses. The embarkation is chaos.

Sir Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia in the Borden Government, again calls upon William Price, the President of Price Brothers and Company, who has just built Valcartier Camp in miraculous three weeks, to become Director General of Embarkation, and appoints him Lieutenant-Colonel. A vigorous, practical man, Sir William enlists the boy scouts of Quebec to act as messenger runners so that he can expeditiously and effectively communicate with many individuals, units and vessels spread throughout an extensive port area.

In this picture, taken beside the Customs House, William Price, at the extreme left, is photographed with some of his embarkation staff. William is looking fondly at his son, Richard Harcourt, on duty as a scout.

The man in civilian clothes behind him is probably A.J. Gorrie, his civilian assistant, a prominent Montreal businessman and Conservative. The man in civilian clothes, before the pillar at top right is Frank Thron, a Price Brothers employee. No others in the picture can be positively identified but a note on the back of the picture mentions “Colonel Langdon and Captain Murray.” The old Quebec customs building is still standing.

In the King’s Honours list of January 1915, William Price was made a Knight Bachelor for his services at the beginning of the war.

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