Behind the Statistics

The Lives of Atlantic Canadians who served

The histories of the Atlantic Canadian units that fought near Vimy in April 1917 only tell part of the story. Thousands of soldiers from the Atlantic Provinces signed up for service in the war, each with their own motives, perspectives, and experiences. Many never came home and still lay on foreign soil in France and Flanders.

Their revealing individual stories can be can discovered through personnel files made available through Library and Archives Canada’s Lest We Forget program, founded by our colleague Blake Seward from Smiths Falls Collegiate Institute.

We explore these stories with our teacher colleagues and students of all ages through the Gregg Centre’s War and the Canadian teacher professional development program. The Lest We Forget program encourages student-led research that stimulates engagement among Canadians.

Meet some of the Atlantic Canadians who lost their lives during the Battle for Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

New Brunswick

Alexander, Charles: Charles Alexander was born in Newcastle, New Brunswick. He enlisted on June 15, 1915. After basic training he was assigned to the 26th Battalion on April 15, 1916. On April 10, 1917 he was reported missing in action and was listed as presumed dead on January, 28, 1918. His name is carved on the Vimy Memorial.

Ashe, John Firman: John Ashe was born in Upham, New Brunswick. He enlisted on April 5, 1916 and was ultimately transferred to the 26th Battalion as a replacement. He was succumbed to wounds sustained on April 11, 1917.

Nova Scotia

Arsenault, John: John Arsenault was a miner from Cheticamp, Cape Breton. On October 5, 1915 he put away his mining helmet and pickaxe for a Canadian army helmet and a rifle to serve his country. Although transferred multiple times in the course of his training, in February 1917, he was finally taken on strength with the 85th Battalion. He died on April 16, 1917.

Grierson, Vernon Arthur: Arthur Grierson was a 24 year old student from Kentville, Nova Scotia. In October 1916 he arrived in England and was assigned to the 85th Battalion. He was reported wounded in action on April 9, 1917 and his personnel file notes he was pronounced killed in action later that day.

Prince Edward Island

Beairsto, Samuel: Samuel Beairsto was a butcher from Woodville, P.E.I. He enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on May 1, 1915. After basic training, he was taken on strength with the 26th Battalion. On April 9, 1917 he was killed in action at the Battle for Vimy Ridge.

Grant, Russel John: John Grant was a teamster from Summerside, P.E.I. He enlisted on January 4, 1915 and, after basic training he arrived in England on the July 31, 1916. On February 19, 1917 he was transferred to the 26th Battalion. He was killed in action on April 9, 1917 at Vimy Ridge.