Last Known Canadian First World War Veteran
On February 18, 2010, Canada's last known First World War Veteran passed away. This event marked the end of an era.
Born on July 23, 1900, Mr. John “Jack” Babcock grew up on a farm near Kingston, Ontario as part of a family of 13 children. When he was quite young, his father died in a tree-cutting accident. Despite this devastating loss, Mr. Babcock went on to bravely serve his country in the First World War before moving to the United States where he settled in Spokane, Washington.
He was 15 years old when he joined the 146th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Sydenham (near Kingston), Ontario. A few months later, he arrived in England. He was transferred to reserve battalions and ended up with the Boys Battalion (also known as the "Young Soldiers Battalion") in 1917, waiting until he turned 18 to go to the front lines. The war ended first. Mr. Babcock would later move to the United States, where he served in the United States Army from 1921 to 1924. Mr. Babcock married Dorothy (Dot) after losing his first wife, Elsie, in the late 1970s.
Mr. Babcock read voraciously and, in recent years, completed his high school degree via correspondence courses. He had also taken local college courses. He could recite the alphabet backwards without hesitation and spell out his name in Morse code. He enjoyed travelling with his wife and taking daily walks to keep in good shape. He took up flying lessons and became a pilot when he was 65!
In April 2008, the Minister of Veterans Affairs awarded Mr. Babcock a Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation. Later that year, a small ceremony was held in May at Mr. Babcock’s home, where his Canadian citizenship was reinstated. Another accolade came in September 2008 when the Royal Canadian Regiment Association honoured Mr. Babcock with the honorary title of regimental patriarch. This was the first time the title of regimental patriarch was given in Canada.
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