Lieutenant Colonel Rybert Kent (R.K.) Barker, VD was born in Kingston, Ontario on September 21, 1869, son of Robert William Barker, postmaster, and later postal inspector in London, Ontario and Annie Simpson. He was also the grandson of Dr. Edward John Barker, founder and editor of the Kingston newspaper “The British Whig”, and later the daily “Whig.”
In October 1899, he volunteered to serve for one year in the 2nd Service Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry for active service in the South African War and was appointed to Command C (Toronto) Company. In February 1936, Barker wrote a short article about some of his time in South Africa for the Royal Canadian Regiment magazine entitled: With the Royal Canadian Regiment in South Africa – “Just a Few High Spots”. He rejoined the Queen’s Own on his return in November 1900.
In 1908 he married Mary Labron and they had one son Robert Joseph Kent Barker who served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. He was a teacher by profession.
In July 1910 he chose to transfer to the Reserve of Officers but by 1912 he was on the 2nd Division staff working in various roles with army cadets.
In November 1915 he enrolled at the age of 46, with the 95th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and as Commanding Officer. Interestingly his attestation papers indicate a tattoo “Maple Leaf with Crown” and the word “Canada” on his right forearm. In Apr/May 1916 the 95th Btn proceeded to England for further training and was eventually used to provide reinforcements drafts primarily for the 3rd Battalion and 4th and 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles. It was disbanded on June 4, 1917.
On 20 April 1918, the 2nd Battalion, 1 Central Ontario Regiment was changed to the 2nd Battalion, The Canadian Garrison Regiment, and it absorbed Number 2 Special Service Company. The new Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Barker, established its headquarters in the Exhibition Grounds in Toronto and had detachments located at vital points throughout Ontario. On 1 July the Battalion took over the duties of the Welland Canal Force which had been disbanded the previous day.
He died on August 15, 1942 in Toronto. He is buried in Prospect Cemetery, Toronto.
Partial Service Record
- 1888 – Joined the Queen’s Own Rifles probably as a Rifleman [CEF attestation papers]
- April 24, 1891 – Provisional Lieutenant – Queen’s Own Rifles
- August 24, 1891 – Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant
- January 20, 1893 – Promoted Lieutenant
- July 15, 1897 – Promoted Captain
- October 20, 1899 – Appointed to Command C (Toronto) Company of the 2nd Service Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry for active service in South African War
- Awarded Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps (Clasps for Paardeberg, Dreifonteine, Cape Colony and Transvaal)
- November 5, 1900 – Returns to Queen’s Own Rifles
- July 13, 1910 – Transferred to Reserve of Officers
- February 20, 1912 – Brevet Major and appointed to 2nd Division, Officers Employed in the Supervision of Military and Physical Training in Public Schools [i.e. Cadets]
- November 1, 1915 – Transferred to 95th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force as Commanding Officer with rank of Lieutenant Colonel
- April 20, 1918 – Assumes command of the newly formed 2nd Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment
- ? – Awarded Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal
- 1936? – Awarded Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers’ Decoration (VD)