George Roy Stevens born 18 June 1892

George Roy Stevens was born 18 June 1892 in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia.  He was the first of four children born to Charles Seldon Stevens and Jessie Gordon Miller.  He was known as Roy, and was born at the railway station, where his father was the telegraph operator.  In 1893, he went west with his parents, to Kamloops, BC.  His sister Jean was born there in 1894.  Victoria was born in 1896 in Nova Scotia.  Percy was born in 1898 in Kamloops. 

Roy’s mother died of tuberculosis when he was only six. Early in 1899, his grandmother, Mary Ann Hodges Stevens, took him back to the family farm outside of Belmont NS.  He lived there for several years until his father remarried, and called for him to rejoin him at Kamloops.  Roy remembered those years in a pamphlet called “A Sprout of Kindling Size” published in Dec 1966 in Montreal.

I was not able to find George Roy in the Canada census, either in the east or west, in 1901, 1906, or 1911.  In Kamloops, George attended Okanagan College (1909-1911) and later the University of Alberta (BA in 1915). 

George enlisted to serve in World War 1. He was a 22-year-old student at  the University of Alberta when he enlisted in May, 1915. His enlistment papers mentioned “4 toes on right foot” – perhaps they were missing.  He also had 3 broken joints left arm, deep scars both knees.  (I wonder if “A Sprout of Kindling Size” would explain those injuries.) George served with the Alberta Regiment, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) and reached the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was originally connected with the 2nd University Company, but became an officer in the 6th University in October 1916.  He was wounded at the Battle of Sanctuary Wood on 2 June 1916, and gassed on 28 October 1917. 

Another soldier wrote home about George:  Pte. C. F. Carswell wrote May 16: I fancy you will have heard before now that Art was wounded.  He was next to a German Minniewerfer shell when it exploded in the parapet and buried him to the waist crushing his hips together and partially paralysing his legs.  Sergt. Stevens (the boy I used to chum with at Varsity) dug Art out when in view of the Bosche lines.

George was also mentioned in a letter published in the Red Deer news on 19 July 1916, pg. 3.   The letter included the claim that he had died.  He was described as “…one of the most brilliant students in the university and was also the star on the ‘varsity’ basketball team in 1914 when they tied with Calgary collegiate for the provincial honors.”

Another news story said:  University Students Send Souvenir from Trenches

A handsome souvenir of the war, replete with interest to many people in Edmonton, is proudly possessed by one of the University girl students, to whom it was sent by students from the University who are now at the front with the Princess Pats. This is a crest carved on walnut taken from the White Chateau which was ruined by shell fire during the battle of Ypres.  The pieces of wood were taken into the trenches, and carved with a pen knife by one of the soldiers.  The base is of circassian walnut, about six inches square; mounted on this is a crest carved from walnut.  The centre of the design is a conventionalized sunflower, surrounded by a plain circle of wood on which is carved “Princess Patricia, Canadian Light Infantry.”  A crown surmounts the entire design.  On the base is carved the dates 1914 and 1915, and the words “St. Eloi”, “Ypres”, and “Armentieres”,  The design is most artistic and the detail work has been well carried out. On the back of the plaque are written the names of the group of students: [17 names carved, the first one being GR Stevens.]

George married Zillah Louise Rodger on 30 March 1921 in Montreal.  She was the daughter of William John Rodger and Zillah Louise Coyle.  They had three sons.  Charles Peter Rodger Stevens was born in 1922 in Jamaica, and his birth record says that George was working there as a journalist.  Charles served in WWII, and disappeared on 28 July 1945 over Japan.  Son George David Hamilton Stevens was born in 1925 in Capetown, South Africa.  John Oliver Allan Stevens was born in 1928 in Capetown, was a minister, and died 31 March 2011 in Ontario. 

The family traveled from Southampton England to Montreal, arriving 22 Sep 1928.  Their ship was the Empress of Australia, which had been built in 1922 and was part of the Canadian Pacific Shipping Line. 

George was on loan to the Indian Army in the Second World War.  He was a writer and historian, first publishing in 1923.  He is known for his documentary films and his books on Canadian subjects.  He lived at 144 Stratherarn Ave North, Montreal West, Que.  George died in September 1975 in Montreal.

Author of the following:

1923 Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, 1914 -1957

1932 Problems of the Ottawa Conference

1936 The Royal Canadian Regiment:  Volume 2

1947 The Desert Rat and Other Verses (with Sir Francis Simms Tuker)

1952 Olgivie in Canada:  Pioneer Millers, 1801-1851

1953 List of References to Canadian Railways, 1829-1938

1955 The Canada Permanent Story, 1855-1955

1959 Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, 1919-1957 – Volume 3

1959 Travelogue

1960 Sixty Years of Trial and Error (with Donald Gordon)

1962 Canadian National Railways:  Volume 1

1962 Towards the Ineveitable 1896-1922 (with O M Solandt)

1964 A City Goes to War

1964 Shelley Plain

1965 The Incompleat Canadian:  An Approach to Social History

1966 A Sprout of Kindling Size

1967 The Royal Canadian Regiment, volume two, 1933-1966

1973 History of the Canadian National Railways



  1. Vivian Bonneau Murray said,

    September 7, 2011 at 19:41

    A gentleman by the name of G. David Stevens was employed as a management consultant with P. S. Ross & Partners in Montreal in the mid 1960’s. I believe he was born in South Africa. Was this the middle son of George Roy Stevens? If so, do you have any knowledge of
    G. David Stevens’ life since the 60’s?

  2. sooze471 said,

    September 7, 2011 at 21:00

    My notes say that “David” is an accountant and is currently working as a consultant for the Canadian government at Seoul, Korea. However, I did not write down the source of that comment, so don’t know how long ago that was written. It appears he is twice divorced, with two sons from the first marriage, and a daughter from the second. I do not know if he is still living. I don’t know if he worked in Montreal for the company you named. John died 31 March 2011 in Grimbsby Ontario, but the obit I found doesn’t mention if David is living.

  3. Merlin Stevens said,

    November 2, 2011 at 18:51

    David, George David Hamilton Stevens was a CA, married in 1949 and was divorced once from Florence, had two sons, Laird and Clifford, remarried Frances. He worked in Korea where they adopted a daughter, Ruth, Frances died in 1981 or 1982, Ruth died after that. David went to work in Indonesia and died there in 1993. Oliver, John Oliver Allan Stevens was David’s brother and was not only a minister but a school teacher.

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