Mewburnserved with the volunteer company (No. 9) of University of Toronto students that was a company of The Queen’s Own Rifles.
On June 1st, he was called out from his final exams to go to Ridgeway to defend Canada against the Fenian invaders. He sustained a head wound. He was left on the field and he died in Fenian custody. The Fenians behaved relatively gallantly everywhere, but in this one case, they treated him rather roughly. He was tied, thrown onto a floor of a cabin and he died on the floor of a cabin.
“At thirty-five, he was older than the average militia volunteer. Born in Islay, Scotland and raised in Lower Canada, he came from a humble background and had originally wanted to be a minister. Born a Presbyterian, he had only recently joined the Wesleyan Methodist and was a Sunday school teacher. McEachren was married to Margaret Caroline, aged thirty-one and the couple had five children: two boys, eight and twelve, and three daughters, two, four and six years old. He was a store manager in Toronto with an annual salary of nine hundred dollars, plus free rent for the family in an apartment above the premises. McEachren was sufficiently organized to have purchased life insurance but not sufficiently wealthy to acquire more than a $250 policy – in  dollars about $6,675.
Ridgeway (Vronsky) pp.61-62
He was gazetted as an Ensign March 30, 1866 and was the first to fall in the Battle of Limestone Ridge, fought against American Fenians near the town of Ridgeway in the vicinity of Fort Erie on June 2, 1866.
McEachren’s green tunic with bullet hole in the lower chest is displayed in our Museum.
William Tempest was born in Whitby or Oshawa on November 30, 1845, son of Dr. William Tempest and Mary H. Fairbanks.
One of his uncles was Colonel Silas B. Fairbanks, the first commanding officer of the 34th Ontario Regiment which was formed in 1866 after the Battle of Ridgeway in the Fenian Raids. Another uncle was Hugh J. Macdonell, Clerk of the Peace and Clerk of the Ontario County Council. A third uncle was Duncan C. Macdonell, Division Court Clerk of Ontario County.
The family moved to Toronto in 1860 and William joined the Queen’s Own Rifles, No. 9 Company (University of Toronto). On June 2, 1866 at the age of 23, he was killed in the Battle of Ridgeway when a bullet cut his jugular vein. In the weeks before the battle, he had premonitions about his death.
Tributes were paid to him by the Ontario County Council, then in session at Whitby and all the town’s businesses were closed from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the date of his funeral in Toronto. The town bells tolled mourning and the Whitby Brass Band marched through the streets playing the Dead March. All flags on public and private buildings were at half mast. He was buried in a public funeral at St. James’ Cemetery in Toronto.
In 1873, the Federal Government granted his mother a yearly pension of $298 in compensation for his death. She died in Toronto on July 7, 1902.
The Encampment Project is looking for stories of individuals who lived through the War of 1812 or any story related to the War of 1812 to be developed into an art installation on the Fort York grounds for this year’s Luminato Festival in June. Hans Bathija, an RCMI Museum Committee member is working with the artists as a Production Collaborator.
Sitrep, the journal of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, is looking for contributions from young Canadian scholars at graduate level in a defence, strategic studies or international relations program at home or abroad. Submissions should be 2500-3500 words in length, on themes related to defence policy, international military involvement, or strategic issues. Submissions may be edited for length or style.
Please send submissions to C. J. Corrigan, Editor, Sitrep at email@example.com
Peter Vronsky is a historian at Ryerson University and author of Ridgeway: The American Fenian Invasion and the 1866 Battle That Made Canada. His website on the Battle of Ridgeway is www.ridgewaybattle.ca
“On April 9, 1917, the famous Vimy Ridge attack took place. This had been planned and practised most carefully. The 3rd Battalion was on the extreme right of the Canadian Corps and so had the longest distance to go. Nevertheless it took its first objective on time and captured four guns, the first to be taken by Canadians. The casualties were, for World War I, light – 6 officers and 179 men. During the new few days the gains were extended to the flat country east of the ridge.”
“In Holland on the night of 25th-26th February 1945, the 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada launched an attack on the hamlet of Mooshof, to capture ground which was considered essential for the development of future operations.
Sergeant Cosens’ platoon, with two tanks in support, attacked enemy strong points in three farm buildings, but were twice beaten back by fanatical enemy resistance and then fiercely counter-attacked, during which time the platoon suffered heavy casualties and the platoon commander was killed…”
Sergeant Aubrey Cosens’ actions sixty-seven years ago were recognized with the posthumous award of the Commonwealth’s highest award for valour, the Victoria Cross. Read more about Cosens and the full citation of this Victoria Cross here.