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Honouring the Minneapolis men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force

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November 30, 2022

In the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day on November 11, 2022, the Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis paid tribute, via a thread of stories on social media, to local men who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in the First World War.

The First World War was a coming-of-age for Canada as a nation. 650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in the conflict. The United States would not enter the war until April 6, 1917 and both before and after that date, men would head north to enlist in the CEF, sometimes even finding their path to the Forces at recruiting stations located in American cities. It is estimated that approximately 40,000 of the 650,000 were Americans, and at least 700, but likely more, of these men were from Minnesota.

Following the end of the war, communities around the world erected memorials to their fallen. The memorial established by the city of Minneapolis is unique. Construction of a miles-long Parkway west of downtown had been put on hold when war broke out.  When construction resumed and was completed post-war, it was decided that the Parkway would become a living memorial to the fallen of Hennepin County.

Victory Memorial Drive was dedicated on June 11, 1921. An elm tree was dedicated for each individual that didn’t make it home – 568 in total. Today, the drive and markers paving it still stand as a testament to them. It is one of the largest war memorials, by area, in the entire United States.

Included along the drive are dedications to fourteen individuals that served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Each of these individuals’ stories are unique, and taken together, they serve as a reminder of our shared history and shared sacrifice. These Hennepin County residents fell in some of the Great War’s key battles for Canadian Forces, such as: The Somme, Vimy Ridge, and Passchendaele.

On Remembrance Day, Consul General Ariel Delouya visited Victory Memorial Parkway, to pay a floral tribute to each fallen soldier. In the spring of 2023, after the snowmelt, the Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis will work with Hennepin County – a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community – and the Minneapolis Park Board, local Veterans’ groups, and Canadians living in the Twin Cities to clean the memorials, calling attention to the individuals’ sacrifices for peace and freedom, and the interwoven nature of the Canada-U.S. defence and strategic partnership.

Here are a few of the stories they shared.

James Thomas Kennedy was a locomotive machinist residing in Minneapolis. According to his sister: “All of his ambitions were along mechanical lines – he was considered an expert mechanic.” He also loved baseball and was not interested in any other sport. James enlisted on January 8, 1917 in Fort Frances. He joined the 141st Battalion, Company No. B 41.  at Port Arthur (Thunder Bay), ON. He underwent training in Winnipeg, then departed Canada from Halifax on April 18 aboard the S.S. Olympic, arriving in England on May 7. In August he joined the 8th Battalion on the continent.

James was hit by a machine gun bullet to the head on the Passchendaele Ridge, November 10th 1917, while a Christmas box from home was making its way to him from his family. He was 34 years old. In addition to his marker on Victory Memorial Drive in Minneapolis, James is memorialized on the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.

Joseph Meades Mailhiot was born in Chatham, MN, to parents that were from Quebec. He grew up in Wright County and his sister wrote that he was very active in community sports. Before the First World War he served in the 2nd Minnesota Regiment. He enlisted in the CEF at Port Arthur on January 23, 1915 under the name Joseph Meades. Joseph served with the 52nd Infantry Battalion. His unit sailed for Europe on November 23, 1915 and by February of the following year he was in France. While in service, he was promoted from private to corporal.

He was killed on April 17, 1917, in the battle of Vimy Ridge and is laid to rest at Bois-Carre British Cemetery, Thélus, France. His sister, a Minneapolis resident, said he considered Minneapolis his home and insisted he be included with those in the Minneapolis Victory Memorial.

Roy James Remick was born in Minneapolis in 1883. He attended grade school and high-school, after which he took up a mail course. According to his sister, “his main ambition was to be a mail clerk, but was not [accepted] because he was left-handed.” After his schooling he worked as a street car conductor and a patrolman. In his early twenties he moved to Saskatchewan and worked as a buyer of threshing machines.

Roy enlisted November 1, 1915 in Winnipeg under the name Roy James McAllister. He embarked from Halifax on May 20, 1916 aboard the “Empress of Britain” and arrived in Liverpool ten days later. Roy proceeded from Southampton for service in France on August 12 and disembarked in Havre, France. He worked on railway contraction in the field for a time before heading for the front. He was killed November, 1916 along the Somme by a bomb during an attack on Desire Trench near Courcelette. Roy is memorialized on the Vimy Memorial.