54th Canadian Infantry Battalion in the Great War

1915 - 1919

A number of 54th soldiers went on to great things. Jack Chalmers Mackenzie, engineer and science administrator, was born in 1888 at St. Stephen, N.B., obtained a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Dalhousie University in 1909 and a Master of Civil Engineering from Harvard in 1915. After working briefly as a consulting engineer in Alberta, Mackenzie went overseas in 1916 with the 54th Battalion CEF. Returning in 1918, he became a professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, a position which he held until 1939, and was also the Dean of the College of Engineering there from 1921 to 1944. He was also active in Saskatoon municipal politics. "Dean" Mackenzie is best known for his involvement in the evolution of a Canadian science policy and the development of atomic energy. From 1935 to 1964, he was a member of the Advisory Council of the National Research Council of Canada. He was appointed Acting President of the NRC in October 1939, and became President in October 1944. During these years much of the NRC's resources were devoted to war and military research. He served as President of the Atomic Energy Control Board from 1948 to 1961. Mackenzie resigned from the NRC in 1952 to become President of the newly formed crown corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, a position he held until 1953. In this capacity, he oversaw the early years of the atomic energy project at Chalk River, Ontario. He resigned from AECL September 1953. Mackenzie retired from public service in 1964, but continued to pursue part-time careers as Chancellor of Carleton University and Director of Chemcell Limited and Columbia Cellulose Limited. Dean Mackenzie died in Ottawa on 26 February 1984.

KKK.JPG (35547 bytes)Herbert Herridge, MP. Born in England in 1895, Herbert Herridge and his family emigrated to Canada in 1906 and settled in Nakusp, British Columbia. From 1909 to 1914, he attended the Ontario Agricultural College and in 1915 enlisted in the 54th (Kootenay) Battalion. Severely wounded at the Battle of the Somme, he returned to Canada in 1918 when he took over his parents' property for the purpose of farming and helped organize the Great War Veterans' Association. Vice-President of the British Columbia Liberal Association in 1932 and Acting President in 1933, Herridge joined the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in 1934. Elected in 1941 as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Rossland-Trail, he resigned his seat in 1945 in order to run in the federal general elections. As this action was taken in violation of a directive of the British Columbia Council of the C.C.F., he was expelled from the Party and became a candidate for the People's C.C.F. Elected as a Member of Parliament for Kootenay West, he was re-admitted to the C.C.F. in 1948 and was re-elected M.P. in the general elections of 1949, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1962, 1963 and 1965. He served briefly as Parliamentary Leader of the New Democratic Party in 1962. As a M.P., Herridge served on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, 1945-1968, and was also on the Standing Committee on External Affairs and on the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development. Both inside and outside of Parliament, he was a determined opponent of the Columbia River Treaty. Among his numerous extra-Parliamentary affiliations, he was a life member of the Royal Canadian Legion, an honourary life member of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers and served on the executive of the Canadian Tree Farmers' Association.

Howard Green was a Captain in the unit and went on to become a senior minister of the federal government filling the portfolio of Minister of External Affairs.  Howard Charles Green was born at Kaslo, British Columbia and educated at the University of Toronto, Osgoode Hall, and the University of British Columbia. He read law with Mowat, Maclennan, Hunter and Parkinson in Toronto and with Ladner and Cantelon in Vancouver before being called to the Bar of British Columbia in 1922. Subsequently, he practiced law with Collins, Green, Eades and Collins in Vancouver. During World War I, Green saw service with the 54th Kootenay Battalion, C.E.F. and served as an Instructor with the Canadian Corps School and with the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade. Following the Armistice, Green was attached to the Canadian section, G.H.Q. Howard Green was first elected to the House of Commons for the constituency of Vancouver South in 1935 and served that riding until 1949. In 1949, he ran successfully in Vancouver-Quadra and he held that seat until his defeat in the 1963 general election. He served as Minister of Public Works, 1951-1959, and Acting Minister of Defence Production, 1957-1958. In 1959, Green was appointed Secretary of State for External Affairs and he remained in that portfolio until the Government, and he personally, was defeated in 1963.

Hal Rogers served as a soldier in the unit and went on to found the Kinsmen - the internationally known service club.

Lt Harry Letson (MC) taught engineering in Vancouver and returned to uniform in 1940 rising to the rank of Major General. He was the first military advisor in our High Commission in Washington, and filled senior positions in the Headquarters in Ottawa. 

LCol Fred Lister of Creston served in the postwar Kootenay Regiment for over 20 years. He commanded the 102nd North British Columbians alongside Lcol Alfred Carey who took over from Lcol Kemball.

LCol William Mahlon Davis - mentioned early in the story of the 54th as the first Commanding Officer took a Pioneer Battalion to France and died Oct 8, 1918 in Ottawa. 

Biography and Obituary of Lieutenant Colonel Davis

Contributed by Barb Ethier

davis1.jpg (91238 bytes)

davisbio2.jpg (49127 bytes)

LCOLDAVISOBIT.jpg (82407 bytes)

54lee.jpg (15474 bytes)Major Turner Lee, a Gentleman by birth, a Lawyer by trade, and a Fruit Rancher and Soldier by choice.

Major Lee was born on December 06, 1861, in the City of Nottingham, Notts., UK, into an upper class family.  The privileges of wealth afforded him many opportunities, however being a Fruit Rancher and Soldier were the ones he sought.

As Captain of the Volunteer Battalion of the City of Nottingham, the  Robin Hood Rifles (Sherwood Foresters), he saw action in the South African War of 1899 - 1902. He was awarded the Queen's Medal and Clasp.

In the Spring of 1911 Major Lee emigrated to Bonnington Falls (Nelson) to start life as a Fruit Rancher.  His wife, Edith and their four children followed in the Fall.

Major Lee enlisted in the 54th Kootenay Battalion on June 17, 1915 and soon thereafter commanded "D" Company. Major Lee survived the War, passing away on January 09, 1950 in  Vancouver.  His descendants reside in Nelson and other parts of the province.

In 1986 a visit to the French Army Museum in Paris, France by Capt Floyd Low of 44 Fd Engr Sqn in Trail, BC, revealed a WW1 Canadian Infantry Soldier on display minus distinguishing regimental badges. With Maj Greg Fowler (CO 44) and Colonel, now Lt. General Maurice Baril, CDS, Canadian Armed Forces, they proposed and the French Army accepted the hat badge and collar pins worn by Sgt Bert Herridge, on our soldier in Paris.  This web site began from that visit.








 Robert J. Robertson

Awarded Status of Freeman of the City of Burnaby, B.C.: January 25, 1971 (Presentation Made March 12, 1971)

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Bob came to Canada as a young boy and upon the declaration of World War One, he enlisted with the 54th Battalion in 1915. He was wounded in action and eventually came to settle in Burnaby when he was discharged from active duty. From that point forward, Bob devoted himself to serving the needs of his community.  Photo and text used with the kind permission of the City of Burnaby 

See his story here:

Continue the adventure!

(return to top menu)