Thorn, John Onions

1897 Sergt. Major JO Thorn
Sergeant Major JO Thorn

Major (and former Sergeant Major) John Onions Thorn (sometimes spelled Thorne) was born in Shropshire, England in 1862, son of Alfred O. Thorn and Jane E. Bartlam. He came to Ontario in 1874 but spent a considerable part of his early life in Western Canada.

He joined the Regiment in March 1885 and almost immediately took part in the North West Field Force.

He had good attendance at Regimental Training events, was a good shot earning his 1st Class Marksman badge while a Corporal and progressed through the ranks quickly. He spent some time as Quartermaster Sergeant before being promoted to Sergeant Major after just over 10 years of service. He was eventually commissioned and promoted to Captain and finally Major.

Thorn also took an active part in recruiting and training men during the the First World War and was Quartermaster of the 166th Overseas Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force.

In his business life he eventually founded The Metallic Roofing Company of Canada. He also served as one of the first Councillors for the Village of Forest Hill in 1923.

He was a Member of the Executive Council, Canadian Manufacturers Association; Toronto Board of Trade; on Transportation Committee, Board of Trade since 1899; Life member St. Georges Society, and Canadian Red Cross Society. One of the founders of the Navy League of Canada.

He married Constance E. Breckon in 1886 and had three sons and one daughter. One son John Reginald Thorn was a Rifleman in the Queen’s Own Rifles and died after a tragic accident when he was pinned by his horse during the QOR 50th Anniversary Pageant.

J. O. Thorn died 21 August 1945, and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto.

Timeline of service:

  • 1885 Mar – Joined The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada
  • 1886 30 Oct – Private Thorn earns good attendance badge, Regimental Orders;
  • 1888 2 May – earns Sgt’s certificate, Regimental Orders;
  • 1888 16 May – earns 3 year good service badge, Regimental Orders;
  • 1888 19 Sept – promoted to Corporal, Regimental Orders;
  • 1889 – qualifies 1st Class Marksman, Regimental Orders;
  • 1889 30 Oct – promoted to Sergeant, Regimental Orders;
  • 1890 6 Nov – awarded 1 year good attendance badge, Regimental Orders;
  • 1892 12 Oct – promoted Quartermaster Sergeant vice George who was promoted Sergeant Major, Regimental Orders;
  • 1896 20 Oct – promoted Sergeant Major, Regimental Orders;
  • 1898 22 Mar – promoted to Honorary Captain and Quartermaster;
  • Promoted to Honorary Major;
  • 1910, served as Major and Quartermaster during the England Trip;
  • Reported to have been Quartermaster of the 166th Overseas Battalion, CEF (although not verified)
  • Awarded the North West Medal, Long Service Medal, and the Officers’ Long Service Decoration
Sgts Mess
The Sergeants’ Mess, Quartermaster Sergeant JO Thorn 4th row centre
Major Thorn, Quartermaster (centre row 4th from right) in England during 1910 trip with his staff

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