A Love Story
In 1857, Edward Prince, watchmaker, married Elizabeth Matthews in Southampton, England. They had three sons and three daughters when Elizabeth died in 1871. Her second daughter, Gertrude, was only 4 years old. On 28 December 1881, young Gertrude, then a home child, left Liverpool, England bound for Quebec.
Sometime before 8 October 1890, James Barrie, a farmer’s son from near Balderson, Ontario, fell in love with Gertrude and her 1-year-old son, George, who later adopted the Barrie name. James & Gertrude were the happy parents of ten children including Henry. George & Henry grew up learning to care for animals and the land on the family farm.
Both volunteered to serve in World War 1. Henry was accepted and kept a highly illegal diary of his experiences, including at Vimy Ridge. Perhaps his mother had employed the same method in order to strengthen her faith when separated from her family? Henry was raised in a Christian home and took his faith seriously.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the day before The Canadians took Vimy Ridge was Easter Sunday. It is a special day for Christians. It marks the commemoration of Christ’s death on a cross for our sins, His descent into Hell, and, three days later, His resurrection. His sacrifice means we are free to glorify and enjoy God; knowing, at death, we will be welcomed into eternity with Him. As thousands of soldiers prepared to meet God face-to-face the next day, what comfort they must have found in God’s means of grace, including The Bible and The Sacraments.
The Allied Forces had made six attempts to take Vimy Ridge; learning from each attempt. The German guns had the advantage of height and deep mud. On the seventh attempt, The Canadians successfully laid a path of plywood, gaining 1/8th of an inch of ground for every casualty.
Henry returned home and married his beloved Nettie. He died in 1959 and his mother followed in 1962, having been a widow for 30 years. George also married and lived a long life. Henry and family were just some of the humble, hard-working people of faith who comprised the soul of Lanark County.
In 2017, Rob More published the children’s book, “Henry Barrie: Vimy Ridge Survivor” now available on Amazon. On Rob’s website http://henrybarrie.weebly.com/, you are welcome to explore more about Henry. Included are free school lesson plans which teach about the war from a uniquely, compassionate Canadian perspective.
About the authors
Rob More is a Canadian WWI Historian. His sister, Sarah, is honoured to serve as the Historical Researcher for the Municipality of Mississippi Mills, (although not representing them in this instance.) Their father, the late Rev. Dr. Robert More, Jr. was a pastor, author, and historian. Their mother is a sixth-generation resident of Ramsay Township.
Like their father, Rob and Sarah received their Bachelor of Arts degrees in the United States. The family later returned to their Lanark County roots where they proudly share a role in telling Canada’s story.