Ron Barclay stood beside a display at the Mary C. Moore Public Library which honours Barclay’s grandfather Lieutenant Lance Corporal Leo Henry Baxter, who served in the First World War. (Todd Colin Vaughan/BLACK PRESS)

Ron Barclay stood beside a display at the Mary C. Moore Public Library which honours Barclay’s grandfather Lieutenant Lance Corporal Leo Henry Baxter, who served in the First World War. (Todd Colin Vaughan/BLACK PRESS)

Lacombe’s Mary C. Moore Public library honours First World War veteran

Veterans grandson has collected several artifacts in honour of relatives legacy

The Mary C. Moore Public Library in Lacombe recently honoured the legacy of First World War veteran Lieutenant Lance Corporal Leo Henry Baxter, who served both at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele

The library created a display of Baxter’s legacy, which has been collected by his grandson Ron Barclay and has been showcased throughout Alberta including in Lacombe, Innisfail, Spruceview, Penhold and Caroline.

Barclay said his grandfather, who was born in England in 1895 and came to Canada when he was six years old, was a member of the 8th Machine Gun Brigade and registered for service when he was just 17.

After completing his training, Baxter shipped off to France and was one of the 100,000 Canadians who captured Vimy Ridge. Baxter was severely injured by shrapnel and also was affected by an ineffective gas mask, which led to him being pulled off the front lines at Passchendaele.

During his time at Vimy, Baxter wrote a poem about the horrible conditions of war, including the lice living in the trenches:

Here I sit in a dugout in France

My shirt is just covered with crumbs

But I pick them off patiently one by one

And crack them between my thumbs

How the little one crack and snap

The bigger ones squirt and fly

And a bit of blood which at one time was my own

Flys up and hits me right in the eye

When I’ve picked off all those I can see

I put on my shirt inside out

For I may break the hearts of the ones that are left

By keeping them marching about

Could the Kaiser be made to wear this shirt

His war problems he could not attend

For with scratching, catching and cracking so busy he’d be

That the war would soon come to an end

-Leo Baxter

Baxter nearly died on the operating table in France, but managed to survive and was sent back to England to be an instructor for the remainder of the war. He was 22-years-old when he returned to Canada, where he was a given a land grant in Whitecourt, Alta where he settled.

Barclay’s’s mother was born and raised in the area and Baxter farmed and was heavily involved with the local Legion until he passed away at 96 years old.

Since then, Barclay has made it his mission to carry on the legacy of Baxter’s service and has grown his collection of artifacts with the help of the Legion, family members and the Whitecourt Star, who wrote a feature on Baxter when he was in his 80s.

Barclay said it is important to remember the legacy of the people that served and the many who gave their lives.

“My grandfather stated quite vividly that when he was going over the hill at Vimy — the bodies were dropping all around him. He said he was waiting for the bullet with his name to show up and it never did,” he said.

“He was a Canadian hero like all of them that went there. We have to remember that. They gave so much for our country and for us. Many of them lost their lives doing it.”

Barclay said the response to the display, which has since moved from Lacombe to the Penhold Library, has been overwhelmingly positive.

“People are proud to see this display because it covers who he was, where he registered, where he fought and it can be a sense of pride for all Canadians,” he said.

He added, “It is a unique honour to be able to do this for the community.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, but rising, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid races to 100 points this NHL season

Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid sprinted to a 100-point NHL season and… Continue reading

A Foodora courier is pictured as they pick up an order for delivery from a restaurant in Toronto, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Two-year EI review needed to buy time for needed tech upgrades, Qualtrough says

OTTAWA — Canada’s employment minister says a budgetary pledge for funding to… Continue reading

A person wears a face mask as they walk through McGill University during light snowfall in Montreal, Sunday, December 20, 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Some universities say no to proof of vaccination requirement

A COVID-19 vaccine likely won’t be a requirement to return to the… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, participate in a virtual discussion with seniors from Residence Memphremagog in Magog, Que., from Ottawa on Monday, May 3, 2021. Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats are on the move in advance of a potential election this year, recruiting candidates, training volunteers and grappling with how to kiss babies and press the flesh in a virtual, pandemic-restricted world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Grappling with how to press the virtual flesh, parties gear up for election showdown

OTTAWA — The three main national parties are firing up their election… Continue reading

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, is setting off a social media reaction with his calls to stop non essential shopping, such as "buying sandals at Costco", with this photo of his worn sandals, which he published to social media on Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dr. Robert Strang, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Nova Scotia’s top doctor sparks meme with caution on non-essential shopping

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s top doctor has launched a social media meme… Continue reading

Most Read