Clarence Arthur McCann June 8, 1891 - June 2, 1947

Clarence Arthur McCann was born in Pembroke, Hants County, Nova Scotia to Arthur Frederick and Ella Jane (Carmichael) McCann. He grew up in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada.

He married Ada May Smith on July 27, 1912 in Falmouth, Nova Scotia and together they had 14 children.

In 1915, Clarence travelled to Fredericton, New Brunswick to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He embarked for England not long after and remained overseas for almost four years. While there, he wrote many letters home. Over 100 of them survived and have been transcribed. The originals have been donated to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

I offer these transcriptions to those who have ancestors who served in the Great War so they might have a glimpse of what that life was like for these men.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

August 4, 1915

Dear Father:

I received your letter and the paper on Sunday the 1st and was mighty glad to get them.

The Herschel did land at Devenport but it's in Plymouth Harbour and the two are the same, just like Windsor and Falmouth, only they are on one side of the water.  The Caledonia left St. John on Sunday, June 13, at 11 a.m. with the Fredericton Company of the 4th Div. Am. Column and the 26th Battalion and took on the Heavy Artillery at Halifax.   She arrived in port one day ahead of us.  We left St. John Monday, June 14, with the C.P.R. Construction Corps and 410 horses.  The 23rd and 25th battalions are about 15 minutes' walk from us, but I have seen none I know there yet, although I know they are there.  It's so hard to catch them.  Walter Glassy must be some sport now and I guess Walter Card is not so hard up as some people think, leave it to him.

I can't give you the names and addresses of any of our officers yet.  They would be no good anyway, for if we go to the Front they won't, except for a Lieut. once in a while.  At least that's the way it has been since I came here.  One went and was only gone two days, brought back all shot up, so I was told.  From here we can get into the firing line in a couple of hours, so the boys say.  We have several back from the Front and are always meeting others in town and they have some great stories to tell.

I have plenty of socks, anyway those things are cheap over here.  Smoking tobacco costs twice as much as at home, and cigarettes only half as much.  Players are only 6 cents here.  All amusements are very cheap and real good.  The pictures are fine.  They were all American films.  None of our boys were drowned so there is a mistake.  In fact, I did not hear of anyone being drowned.

Eric Smith is here in the 42nd Highlanders, but I have not seen him.  You see, we are all on duty and off at the same time, so it's like looking for a needle, looking for anyone here.  Last Friday, I went to Diligate and found Smith.  He was thrown from his horse while doing police duty.  He was laid up a couple of weeks but soon got well when he heard they were coming across.  There is some talk of turning them into artillery.

We came from Paddington to Charing Cross Station underground through London, so we did not see much of the city.  We are only two hour's ride from there now and I guess I will see some it some weekend.  Those photos were not good ones at all for I look much better than that.  English photographers do good work, so I may send some home of their work.  We are getting new horses to train so I guess we will have some fun.

Well, I must save something for the next time.  There is a big inspection on and I guess by the cheering it must be the King.  It is raining like fury and they have no coats.  I beat it.  I was on one before and that's enough for me.  Our sergeant has not got my name on his roll call so it's not very hard to get away once in a while.  I should like to see the King, though.  But you would never know when he was coming.

With love, Clarence

© Copyright 2011 Pamela Wile. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission


  1. Thanks for sharing! I've enjoyed reading some of the letters. It's interesting to read what someone wrote almost a hundred years ago while serving in the military.

  2. You're welcome, Sheryl. I enjoy reading them over and over again. It's interesting to see the difference in the language and the attitudes.

    I'm feeling a little guilty that I haven't posted a letter in a while, but summer is here so I won't get back at it now till fall.