These five factoids are published in remembrance of Armistice day, November 11, 1918
Factoid #106. The sports pages of the “Ottawa Citizen” for 3 April 1906 included a short description of a hockey game in which the Richmond team lost to the team from Wellington (Kars). The article gives the last names of the SEVEN team members. It was comprised of athletes who represented all aspects of village society. Members of the old military and business families were there: “goalie- McElroy”; “right wing – Lewis”; “rover – Reilly”. Many of the other players came from families headed by labourers and tradesmen: “point – Dobson”; “cover point – McDonald”; and “center – McEneany”. The seventh man was “left wing- Pierson”.
Fast-forward ten years. Where were these young men in 1916? They, their brothers and cousins were swept up in the events of war. Buried in the fields of Flanders; fighting in the trenches; soaring in the skies; supporting the fighters, each man would have had been impacted by the Great War.
As we celebrate 100 years since the armistice, which ended the fighting, we must remember not only this hockey team but also the other “Richmond boys” who lost their lives or suffered for a lifetime with physical and mental scars. The following factoids will focus on two of these young men- McElroy and McEneany. Take them to be representatives for all those who served.
Factoid #107. Francis Chevers McElroy (Frank) was the elder of the two McElroy brothers who went to war. Born in 1888, Frank would have been 18 when he played hockey and in his late twenties when he joined the regular army. The McElroy family had a long history of military and community service. Frank’s great grandfather, Henry, was a member of the 35th Regiment and his grandfather, Patrick, had spent his youth surrounded by soldiers. Both came to Richmond in its first years and became merchants. Frank’s father, William, had started his career working as a clerk in Patrick’s store but became better known as a notary public, insurance agent, and court clerk. He was active as a school trustee and secretary of the fair board.
William McElroy had three sons who saw military service. George fought in South Africa during the Boer War while both Frank and his younger brother, Harry, enlisted during World War I.
In 1910, Frank could be found living in Ottawa and working as a bank clerk. Before he joined the regular army, Frank spent five years serving in the militia with the 43rd Duke of Cornwall’s Own Rifles. A lieutenant when he enlisted, by March of 1916 Frank had became a captain in the 207th Battalion. He fought in France, was wounded on Sept. 2nd 1918, and was invalided to England. On his discharge in July 1919, Frank was listed as temporary Quartermaster and acting Major. By 1924 Frank had moved to Montreal where two of his brothers were already located.
One can only imagine the angst in the McElroy household in 1918 as the war entered the last hundred days. Not only was Frank on the ground in France but also his younger brother, Victor Henry (Harry), was flying a Sopwith Camel overhead. Harry was shot down and killed on the same day that Frank was wounded, Sept. 2, 1918. Harry, the intelligent, handsome, effervescent youngest brother was gone. A devastated but proud William visited Rideau Hall to receive a Distinguished Flying Cross awarded posthumously and presented by the Prince of Wales. The large extended McElroy family and the whole village mourned.
Factoid # 108. The first of the “Richmond boys” to be killed in action was Pvt. John Arthur McEneaney (McEneany) the young man who was the centre for the Richmond Hockey team. Jack, as he preferred to be called, had a very different life story from that of the McElroy brothers. Jack was raised by his grandparents, Patrick and Margaret McEneaney, recent (1873) Irish immigrants. The family relied on Patrick’s income as a labourer as a source of income. In addition to playing hockey, Jack spent his late teens as a member of the militia, the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards in Ottawa. By 1911, Jack’s grandparents had passed away and Jack also had left the village to look for work. His quest took him to Winnipeg and on January 9, 1915 he enlisted for the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. When the news came that he was killed in action on January 13, 1916, the telegram was sent not to Richmond but to his next of kin in Rochester, New York. As the next factoid will show, his old Richmond friends did not forget Jack.
Factoid # 109. When Jack McEneaney was killed in action a friend and probable hockey teammate, Earl Dobson, submitted an article to the “Carp Review”. The article published on February 3, 1916 included the last letter Earl had received from Jack. The article appears below.
Factoid # 110. Pvt. Earl Dobson who is mentioned in the “Carp Review” article is probably the “point – Dobson” of the hockey team. “cover point – McDonald” could have been either John McDonald or Murdock McDonald. Both played hockey and both served in the military. The Lewis family has five members listed on the village Honour Roll. There was more than one family so the identity of the hockey player “right wing – Lewis”, is not definitive. What is known is that one of the five, Arthur Lewis, was too young to have been a member of this hockey team. Sadly both he and his classmate, Sefton Stewart, were not too young to go to war and both were killed in action. Clarence Rielly was the only member of his family to enlist but as there were two Rielly hockey players it is not known if he was the “rover – Rielly”. There is no known information about “left wing – Pierson”.
The names of these young men along with those other Richmond residents who served in both wars are recorded on the Honour Roll, which is hanging in the entrance foyer of the Richmond Arena/ Community Centre. Remember them. Honour them.