George Stewart

“The lower half of the humerus was all blown to pieces. On Sept 16, 1916 the right arm was amputated.”

George Stewart was the middle child born to William and Isabella Stewart. He had an older brother William and a younger sister Elizabeth Jane. The family home was in Elgin, Scotland and was built by George’s father, William, who was a carpenter. George Stewart, like his father, uncles and grandfather before him, was also a carpenter. He served a 5 year apprenticeship in Scotland before coming to Canada.

In April 1912, at the age of 21, George boarded the S.S. Athenia in Glasgow and sailed for Canada arriving in Montreal on May 7th. He took the train to Saskatoon, where he worked as a carpenter at the University of Saskatchewan laying hardwood floors by hand. My grandfather and his brother William, who had arrived in Canada 3 years prior, purchased two parcels of land in Saskatoon with the intention of starting a carpentry business. The outbreak of the First World War would forever change their plans as William was killed and George was injured during the war. When work at the University was finished, William went west to British Columbia and George went east to Toronto in search of work.

While in Toronto, George worked as a carpenter and boarded with families with whom he would retain lifelong friendships. He belonged to the Morayshire Club in Toronto and they were on a picnic in High Park when war was declared in 1914.

William signed on in February 1915 in Victoria, B.C. with the 16th Battalion who were sent as reinforcements for the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. William was killed in battle on May 8, 1915 at Bellewaerde Ridge. George Stewart signed on April 16, 1915 and served with the 19th Battalion, Toronto. He was 24 years old. He left for overseas from Montreal on June 19, 1915 aboard the S. S. Corsican. He spent 5 months in England before being sent to France in November 1915.

George was wounded on the Somme, France on September 15, 1916. His records state “On Sept 15, 1916, while in a charge was hit by shrapnel in right arm. The lower half of the humerus was all blown to pieces. On Sept 16, 1916 the right arm was amputated”. From September 1916 until February 1917 George spent time in several hospitals – No. 1 Canadian General Hospital Etaples, Edinburgh War Hospital, Canadian Convalescent Hospital Woodcote Park Epsom, Granville Canadian Special Hospital Ramsgate and Princes Patricia’s Canadian R.X.H. Ramsgate. In February 1917 he was invalided to Canada and sent to the Whitby Military Hospital. He was discharged from the army in September 1917. He was retrained and worked at Postal Station A in Toronto from 1917 until his retirement in 1948 after 29 years of service.

After 8 long years of separation, his wife Margaret Falconer sailed to Canada in the spring of 1920 and married my grandfather. He had purchased a house in the east end of Toronto before her arrival. They had two daughters, Jean and Audrey and 5 grandchildren. His first car was a 1924 Model T Ford. He bought this model as the gears could be changed by a pedal on the floor. George and Margaret also had a cottage on Musselman’s Lake, north of Toronto, where they spent many happy summers for over 40 years.

George was a kind and generous man with a wonderful sense of humour. He was a very giving person and was always willing to lend a hand to someone less fortunate. He was loved and adored by his children and his grandchildren.

He died November 1983 in Toronto, Ontario.

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