Source: Taken on strength 18th Battalion August 1916.
Charles Oliver Fairbank was 56 years old in 1912, when his father John Henry Fairbank put him in charge of all his business dealings. Though J.H. would live for another two years, his health was failing. Charles and his family moved into the mansion to provide care. Charles, J.H. knew, was more than capable of taking the helm.
The father and son were uncommonly close throughout their lives and their bonding began when Charles was very young. They even shared the exact same birthday, July 21. For reasons unknown, at the age of four, Charles came to live with his father in the Oil Springs log shanty. Henry, the older brother of Charles, remained on the farm in Niagara Falls, Ontario with their mother, Edna. The family would not be fully reunited until four years later in Petrolia.
Charles grew up in the oil rush of Oil Springs and Petrolia, and through osmosis and his father, he learned a great deal about oil. As a young man, however, it appeared his destiny would be elsewhere. He studied at Helmuth College in London, Ontario and then, to his father’s delight, he enrolled in the newly established Royal Canadian Military College in Kingston. He was in its very first graduating class and emerged as a lieutenant. Afterwards, he took more military training in England.
His life was undoubtedly altered by the sudden death of his older brother, Henry, in 1881. Henry was only 24 and Charles became J.H. and Edna’s only son. Edna had also given birth to four younger children. The only daughter was May, 11 years younger than Charles. The three others died as infants or toddlers during their early years in Petrolia.
Charles went on to receive a medical degree at Columbia University in New York in 1891. In those days, a university education was a very rare thing. Because of his short stature, he became affectionately known as “The Little Doctor” yet he never made medicine his full-time profession.
Source: Operation Picture Me via The 18th Battalion Facebook Group.