November 30, 1916: Lance Corporal Harker Elwood MacGregor


Date of Birth: October 9, 1889 at Upper South River, Antigonish Co., NS

Parents: George James and Annie (MacMillan) MacGregor

Siblings: Brother John; sisters Edith Jean and Mary Janet

Father’s occupation: Farmer

Marital status: Single

Occupation: Farmer

Enlistment: March 21, 1916 at Antigonish, NS

Unit: 193rd Battalion

Service Number: 902009

Rank: Lance Corporal

Previous Military Service: 18th Field Battery, Antigonish (five years)

Next of Kin: George James MacGregor, Upper South River (father)

Date of Death: November 30, 1916 at Upper South River, Antigonish Co.

Final Resting Place: Upper South River (Cummings) Cemetery, Antigonish Co.

Harker Elwood MacGregor was the oldest of four children born to George James and Annie (MacMillan) MacGregor of Upper South River, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. His father, George, was born at Upper South River, the son of Duncan and Jean (Dalziel) MacGregor. His mother, Annie, was the daughter of Allan MacMillan and Euphemia Gunn. Allan’s father, John, emigrated from Scotland to Upper South River in 1819. Harker`s uncle, Alexander Sterling MacMillan, served as Premier of Nova Scotia from 1940 to 1945.

Harker`s goal was to take over the family farm and spend his life at Upper South River. About 1907, he joined the 18th Field Battery, a Canadian militia unit stationed in Antigonish. This 18th Battery was formed in 1905 as part of the 3rd Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery, whose headquarters was located in Sydney. In 1912, Harker and his 18th Battery comrades completed training and practice firing at Camp Petawawa, Ontario.

The following year, the Maritime Artillery Brigades, which included the Antigonish battery, began training at Camp Aldershot, Nova Scotia. During the summer of 1914, more than 10,000 officers and men assembled at Camp Petawawa, where they carried out combined manoeuvres that came closer to active service conditions than any previous training on Canadian soil.

Following the outbreak of World War in August 1914, the Canadian Government authorized the raising of a permanent force of 25,000 soldiers. All militia unit commanders were ordered to forward a list of militia volunteers between the age of 18 and 25 who met prescribed physical standards. The militia’s role was now restricted to recruiting and dispatching drafts of volunteers to Valcartier Camp, where officers and men were sorted to form new battalions for the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

The 193rd Overseas Battalion was authorised on January 27, 1916, with its headquarters in Truro. Within weeks of its nception, the unit became part of the newly formed Nova Scotia Highland Brigade. While the 85th Battalion—the Brigade’s senior unit—recruited its ranks across the entire province, each of its three Brigade mates obtained its personnel from a distinct area.

The 185th Battalion recruited from Cape Breton (Cape Breton Highlanders), the 219th from central and southwest Nova Scotia, and the 193rd from Cumberland, Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough Counties. On May 23, 1916, the 193rd joined the Highland Brigade’s other three units at Camp Aldershot. Throughout the summer, over 7,000 men encamped at Aldershot for training in trench warfare.

Harker  MacGregor attested for service with the 193rd Battalion at Antigonish on March 21, 1916 and received the regimental number 902009. That same day, he was certified fit for Overseas Service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force by Dr. Lauchie MacPherson of Frasers Mills. Following a period of training with the 193rd’s Antigonish detachment, Harker and his local colleagues proceeded to Camp Aldershot in late May.

During the spring and summer of 1916, the men at Aldershot endured extremely damp conditions as they were accommodated in crowded tents amidst a sea of mud. Possibly due to of these circumstances, Harker developed tuberculosis. While the 193rd relocated to Halifax and boarded SS Olympic for its trans-Atlantic voyage to England on October 13, 1916, Harker remained behind, receiving a transfer to the 246th Battalion and being confined to hospital.

Harker’s mother, Annie, made trips by train to visit him while he was a patient at the Nova Scotia Sanatorium, Kentville. A short time later, Harker was sent home to Upper South River, where he passed away on November 30, 1916. His army death certificate states that Lance Corporal Harker MacGregor, Regt. # 902009, member of the 246th Battalon, died of tuberculosis on November 30, 1916 at age 27. Harker was laid to rest in the Upper South River (Cummings) Cemetery.

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