Children Sing Song Last Sung by Father

The transcription of the news article Children Sing Son Last Sung by Father is a wonderfully poignant illustration of the strength of community expressed in the fellowship that the Salvation Army offered the people of Toronto at the turn of the last century. The Earlscourt area of Toronto is centered on the streets of Dufferin and St. Clair, West, just west of Casa Loma. From this article one can see that the memorializing of the soldiers that did not return from the war began very soon after the war had ended. In fact, many of the soldiers that served until institution of the Armistice did not return until after February, 1919.

The Earlscourt Salvation Army Temple no longer exists but is perpetuated by the York Minister Citadel. They recognize the founding of the Earlscourt Temple in 1910 and the changes in demographics in Toronto that led to the eventual location in North York.[i]

The article illustrates the efforts and attendance for this memorial and mentions organizations that no longer exist in Canada today, though the Great War Veterans Association was the precursor to the Royal Canadian Legion.


John Ritchie MacNicol with his wife Maysie. Undated photo. Source:


Late Pte. Ratcliff and other Heroes Honored at S.A. Temple at Earlscourt


Earlscourt, Feb. 17.—Six comrades of the Earlscourt Salvation Army Temple who were killed in action or died of wounds were remembered at an impressive memorial service in the Temple yesterday. Those honored were Pte. James Monk[ii], Pte. Gilbert Ratcliff[iii], Pte. Richard Hearn[iv], Sergt. William Taylor[v], Ptes George Woolens, jr.[vi] and Pte George Woolens, sr.[vii] Pte. Hearn was wounded and returned to Kingston, where he died. Sergt. Taylor was killed in a British hospital that was bombed by the Germans[viii].

9th Canadian Stationary Hospital (Etaples, France) War Diary relating the bombing of the hospital resulting in the death of Sergeant William John Taylor.

An impressive part of the service was the singing of the two children of the late Pte. Ratcliff. They rendered the song their father last sang in the Salvation Army temple in Belgium. Col. Ottway of the Salvation Army was in charge. Comrade L.G. Gardner, acting president of the Earlscourt G.W.V.A.[ix], and others were present as representatives of the local branch. J.R. MacNicol, president of the British Imperial Association, responded for that organization. There was a large turnout of the B.I.A. Comrade W.A. Turley, Provincial secretary of the G.W.V.A., spoke on behalf of the association, and Sergt.-Major Sibbick of the local branch, also spoke.

Col. Ottway said that while the mourned the loss of their comrades they were proud of their deeds: “Their influence will be felt for years.” he said. While the colonel read the honor roll, the congregation stood in silence.

At tribute to the late Pte. Ratcliff was paid by Col. Brown, the O.C. of the battalion the private was in. He said a splendid example was set by this young man for all his comrades “He was not afraid to go down on his knees and pray before a thousand men in the barracks.” The colonel also spoke highly of the women at home who had done some much to keep up the morale of the men while in active fighting.

In an address on the reunion of the loved ones, John R. Robinson referred to the loss of a son who was in the 55th battery, C.E.F. There was special music for the Army songsters.

Toronto Star. February 17, 1919.

[i] York Citadel History by Doug Taylor.

[ii] Private James Monk, reg. no. 775710 served with the 18th Battalion. He was killed in Action April 9, 1917 during the attack at Vimy Ridge and is buried at the Thelus Military Cemetery.

[iii] Ratcliffe, Gilbert. Reg. No 285440 Canadian Virtual War Memorial Page.

[iv] Hearn, Richard. Reg. No. 138308 Canadian Virtual War Memorial Page.

[v] Taylor, William John. Reg. No. 157067 Canadian Virtual War Memorial Page.

[vi] Woolins, George William. Reg. No. 1024536 Canadian Virtual War Memorial Page.

[vii] Woolins, George Alfred. Reg. No. 1024507 Canadian Virtual War Memorial Page.

[viii] The 9th Canadian Stationary Hospital (Etaples, France) War Diary for May 19 1918 records this event: “Seven bombs were dropped last night by enemy Air craft, four among the tents of the personnel and three in the Hospital proper. Two (Sgts. Taylor and McMillan) were killed and twelve other ranks wounded. Fortunately we had no patients, as eight marquees were blown to ribbons. Most of the tents of the personnel were riddled by splinters.”

[ix] Great War Veterans Association.

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