Harold’s snapshots of the Great War

My Grandpa Harold Monks, a Vargas Island rancher and Clayoquot Sound fisherman, kept all of his photos and memorabilia from World War One.

In April 1917, Harold enlisted with an artillery draft of Vancouver Island men and went for summer artillery training at Camp Petawawa in Ontario.  On October 22 1917 (a day before his 25th birthday), he sailed for England. For five months, Harold trained as a signaller at Camp Witley. At the beginning of April 1918, Harold arrived in France for “Active Service”.

These snapshots show Harold’s experiences in training camps — and a lot of camaraderie he had with his fellow Vancouver Island enlistees, many who he served with on the “Front”. Three of them – Ray Brewster, Ross McCannel and Harold Pearce – would never return to the Island.

Many Petawawa photos were taken by Ray Brewster, who Harold previously knew from the Clayoquot Sound Canning Company in Kenn Falls, Tofino Inlet, where Harold worked in the summers. (Ray’s dad owned the cannery). Ray’s letters and a few photos (one of Harold writing a letter) are also in the Canadian Letters and Images collection, and were shared by author Margaret Horsfield, who has written about Clayoquot Sound and World War One in her book “Writing the Sound.” You can see Ray’s collection here.

Most of the young men in these photographs had attended Victoria High School. I learned more about some of them and their war-time amateur dramatic performances in this story I wrote for the Victoria High School Archives website: The Play’s the Thing – Victoria High School performs Shakespeare during WWI

In 2015, Harold’s photographs and war memorabilia (notebooks, ration books etc) were shared with the Canadian Letters and Images Project at Vancouver Island University. The materials were scanned and uploaded to be shared with future researchers. You can see Harold’s full collection here. In 2019, Harold’s original photo album and materials were shared with the public in the Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Museum’s focus on Clayoquot Sound and World War One.

Click on the photo for more complete captions and background information. See below the gallery for links to more photos and information.