For this Mother’s Day, we’re sharing a unique letter, written by a mother to her son in 1919, as he returns home to Canada for demobilization. William James Barker of Woodstock, Ontario, enlisted in September 1914, experiencing the early days of Valcartier Camp, before heading overseas with the 4th (Central Ontario) Battalion. Private Barker served through the entirety of the war without suffering a single wound. He was demobilized 25 May 1919.
Mrs. A Barker wrote the following letter to her son William as he was being demobilized in 1919. Note – The letter dated April 6th, 1919 is in three pages, noted by a 1, 2, or 3 at the top of each page. The following is a transcript of the letter:
“Dear Son just a few line [sic] in answer to your letter we received few days ago dated 19 o March and was good to hear from you and to [k]now [sic] you was well and engoying [sic] your self you sure have seen some sights you will have lots to tell us when you come home which we hope wont [sic] be long now they dont [sic] need to send you to any other base as we want you home. You said in Mary’s letter you thought John had gone to England well we hope you will be there by now. You said you had sent us some post card and news but we have not got them some one else as well we hope you will bring some books with you but be careful where you keep them as the boys seem to loose all they have coming home happy. McConnal is home he brought [Bettie ?] a fine string of beeds and he had a German belt but he lost it on the way from Tronto [sic] to Hamilton.”
“well he is a wiser boy then when he went away he looks fine his is as fat as can be well Bill we are having some fine weather and it is like spring the robbings [sic] are hear [sic] and you can hear the frogs squaking [sic] at night. Ted brought some roslets [sic] in to day it was raining hard this morning and thundering but that is a sine [sic] of spring to get some of our rose bushes tied up. We have got a pig pen and a chicken house we bought 3 ??? from the people that lived in our old house and him and Ted went over to homles to get their horse to go ??? them home and when he went in to put the harness on her she came around and bit a peace [sic] out of the ear he came running over home and he says that D..d old horse got my ear but when I got it washed it seemed it was ony [sic] the top but we went to”
“the Doctors and he fixed it up well it is doing fine now it will be all right soon. Bill you said you had asked us lots of times about May well it is merry you always ask but we never see her or hear any thing of her but I know she as [sic] another little girl I seen her father a short time ago and he asked after you and I seen Dave Freth yesterday and he wanted to now [sic] when you were comming [sic] he said it was time for you to be hear [sic]. Well dear son I have not much to say to night if you could hear this [Glady] she is making so much noise learning. He …. on and [sinings]… in bettllen time …… We are all well hear [sic] hoping you are the same. With love from all.
I remain your ever loving mother, A Barker. Southend…”
Images Courtesy: Canadian Centre for the Great War