Arthur Frederick Boniface and his wife Rose Rands

“My mother said that he could never become reconciled to the changing roles of women in society following the war.”

Some relationships did not survive the strain of changing gender roles in the wake of the war. When Arthur Frederick Boniface enlisted at age forty-two in 1916, he left behind his wife, Rose Rands, and four daughters in Claresholm, Alberta.

He was stationed at Crowborough Camp in England as a driver in the 13th Canadian Mounted Rifles and then served with the 10th Battalion in France. But when Boniface returned home to Claresholm in 1919 he faced a conflict for which he was not prepared. The role of women in Canadian society had changed dramatically. His oldest daughter, Daisy, was working as a telephone operator during the war and his own wife was a friend of one of the leading women’s rights activists of the time — Louise Crummy McKinney of Claresholm, one of the Famous Five who successfully lobbied for women’s right to sit in the Senate and the first woman elected to a legislature in the British Empire.

“My mother said that he could never become reconciled to the changing roles of women in society following the war, and he eventually separated from my grandmother,” said Richard Frogge, Boniface’s grandson. Frogge added that while his grandfather was rigid he also could be generous.

“Grandfather was religious and a strict teetotaller but he always gave his army rum ration to another soldier, and when the Claresholm Legion attempted to get a liquor licence he campaigned in support of his fellow veterans,” said Frogge.

Boniface emigrated from England to Canada in 1892—around the same time as Rands—and he worked as a carpenter and general labourer. Their second oldest daughter, Violet, recalled that they were very poor in Claresholm. “When she was quite young she was bathing in a galvanized tub on the kitchen floor since they didn't have a bathroom,” said Frogge, Violet’s son. Two men came to the door to reclaim the tub when Boniface arrived home. “He was rather small in stature but stout in heart. The men left. The tub stayed. Violet finished her bath.”

Frogge recalled Violet saying that the only source of meat they could afford were the chickens they raised in their back yard, and each family member would be assigned a specific portion. They also used sugar sparingly because it was expensive. Boniface and Rands would eat bread with jam that they passed around the kids to smell. “Then the adults ate it! I know this sounds like something out of Charles Dickens but my aunts confirmed it. And my mother never fabricated a story having been brought up as a good Baptist,” said Frogge.

Boniface left Rands and moved to Victoria, British Columbia, leaving her behind with their four daughters—Violet, Muriel, Daisy, and Lily. There, he worked in a marine carpenter shop and during the 1940s he worked as a caretaker in the gardens of the Lieutenant-Governor's residence. “He remained in touch with my mother and she and I visited him in Victoria two years after Rose died in 1945,” said Frogge, adding that Rands never remarried. “I have a letter he wrote to my mother at the time of Rose’s death expressing both sadness and, I think, regret.” Boniface remarried in the 1950s but his wife died shortly after.

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