He Was a Miller

My Great-Uncle, Private John Taylor Dewar, reg. no. 730016, died from wounds received near Telegraph Hill, south-east of Arras, France on April 3, 1918. He was 20-years old at the time and his death became an object memory of the strength of memory regarding the past. It is only as strong as those who work to remember.

Case in point was the discovery that I even had a Great-Uncle. It was not until Remembrance Day 2008 that I happened on the name of Dewar on the Queen’s Square Cenotaph at Cambridge (Galt), Ontario. There was a J.T. Dewar inscribed on the side of the monument and when I queried my mother, she recollected that she thought her father had a brother. Investigating I found that he was my Great-Uncle.

He had joined the 111th Battalion, at Galt, Ontario, on November 10, 1915, just over a year after his brother, Private William Robb Dewar, reg. no. 53509, enlisted with the 18th Battalion. This enlistment occurred just over a month after his brother had been wounded by a German machine gun bullet. Though his motivation for joining the Canadian Expeditionary Force cannot be wholly attributed to that event, his attainment of the age of 18-year on October 27, 1915, made him eligible to join.

Standing an immense 5’ 4.5” and weighing in at 112-pounds the newly minted private of the 111th Battalion was off to war.

One of the curiosities of his attestation papers is trade. He listed as a “miller” and my assumption was that of a flour miller.

Until today.

Reviewing a document entitled Peace Souvenir of Waterloo County in the Great War 1914 to 1918, I found a Roll of Honor from the Galt Brass Company. In it lists my Great-Uncle. Connecting this firm with his trade leads to the discovery and conclusion that John Taylor Dewar as a milling machinist. It is unknown when he began his employ with this firm, but he was involved in skilled or semi-skilled labour in the manufacture of brass components and fittings.

Galt Brass was founded in 1905 and is now doing business as Cambridge Brass. Its initial business was the manufacture of “sink bibs (faucets), ground key brass valves, fittings and municipal water distribution products”. This catalogue from 1920 gives some idea of the range of products they manufactured.

Galt Brass was a convenient walk for Dewar as he lived at 14 Norfolk Avenue, making it a 14-minute walk to work.

The Roll of Honor also lists four other men killed and three wounded out of the 21 listed.

Thanks to the Galt Brass we have a more complete picture of Private John Taylor Dewar.

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