First World War

Artifact W1-04: Andrew Thompson Crane uniform photo

Submitted by: Douglas Crane

w1 4 Copy

Andrew was born June 14, 1894 to Agnes Crane in the Glasgow Maternity Hospital.  This was a very difficult time for Agnes.  Prevailing Victorian social values were not forgiving to unwed mothers and their babies.  After struggling for two years to maintain Andrew on her meagre salary, Agnes first placed her son in Whinwell Children’s Home in Stirling and then, under some pressure from the authorities, signed a release placing him in a program designed to give homeless and destitute children the chance at a better life in the “New World” where they would serve as indentured servants on farms in Canada, the U.S.A. and Australia.  This was done under the auspices of Dr. Thomas Barnardo.  The children were generally referred to as the “Home Children”.  Agnes had signed the “Canada Clause Consent”.

He arrived in Canada in September 1904, ten years old.  He was accepted by Marshall Young and family as a field hand and, in a departure from the treatment accorded to many of the Home Children, was accepted into the family circle.  He worked for the Youngs until 30 March 1916 when he enlisted.

Andrew served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the 75th infantry battalion of the 11th infantry brigade of the 4th division while at the front.  He went through the battles of Vimy Ridge, Hill 70 and Lens where he was wounded in the repelled attack on the “Green Cassiar”.  He returned to the lines and went through the slaughter of Passchendaele.  Then into the battles of Amiens and Arras where, during the struggle for the Drocourt-Queant Canal, he was wounded severely enough to be sent to England to convalesce and then returned to Canada.

On arrival in Canada, after a couple of false starts, he found his lifelong career with the Canadian National Railway at the Sioux Lookout divisional point, and worked his way from brakeman, to trainman, to conductor.  He retired in Sioux Lookout in 1959.

In 1927, Andrew married Emily Roe and together they had three children: Joan Anne, the youngest; Bernice, a registered nurse; and, Douglas, a prominent lawyer and Queen’s Counsel.

While at law school, Doug’s class met with Leslie Frost, then premier of Ontario.  When he asked the class to introduce themselves, and hearing Doug say “Crane”, Mr. Frost asked, ”What’s your father’s name?” “Andrew” said Doug.  “I want you to know I was your Dad’s captain in WWI” was Premier Frost’s response.

A long journey for a Barnardo boy!

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