Ottawa casualties from the First World War
CBC Ottawa has mapped the local addresses of soldiers who died as result of First World War
By Arik Ligeti, CBC News
When the original Ottawa Senators played their first game in the National Hockey League on Dec. 19, 1917, Tommy Gorman should have been thrilled.
As part-owner of the Senators, Gorman had been a key figure in founding the NHL just a few weeks before.
But two days before opening night, tragedy hit on the other side of the Atlantic — his brother Joseph had died serving Canada in the First World War. It was Joseph's 28th birthday.
“He was dead long before I got to know who he was,” said Joseph Gorman's great nephew Tim Hern.
Hern, 61, remembers his visits as a child to Gorman's home at 38 Euclid Ave, just off Bank Street in Old Ottawa South. It was the family home where Joseph and Tommy were raised by their mother Mary, a widow with six children.
Gorman’s childhood home is just one of nearly 500 Ottawa addresses mapped out by the CBC.
Each icon on the map above represents one or sometimes two people who died in the First World War with a personal or next of kin address that could be located within the city of Ottawa.
The Canadian Great War Project provided a database of 776 names, which was then narrowed down to 495 with a confirmed address in Ottawa. This was either their own personal address or next of kin, which was usually a parent or spouse.
When information in the database was not clear or required verification, the individual was cross-referenced against attestation papers and old city directories.
The names and addresses are based on data provided by the Canadian Great War Project, an online portal that has compiled publicly available records of nearly 160,000 Canadians who enlisted in the First World War.
At the time of enlistment, Joseph, or Joe, was already living far away from his childhood home in Ottawa. A sportswriter, he had moved to Toronto before settling in Victoria, B.C., where he met his wife, Lottie McLaren.
A few years after the war was underway, Joe and a few friends headed south to train at a pilot school in Texas and from there he went to England, where he joined the Royal Naval Air Service as a pilot.
While overseas Joe ended up in the same squadron as Billy Bishop, flying a biplane with the same design as the one flown by the Wright brothers.
Joe would often send comical letters to his mother during the war, with reassurances of coming home when it was all over. Joe’s wife Lottie was on her way to visit him in Europe when the news reached home.
The cause of his death was never fully clear, but it’s believed Joe was on a training flight in Italy, when the engine seized 200 feet in the air. He was buried at a cemetery in Padua, less than an hour west of Venice, Italy.
Joe’s childhood home on Euclid Avenue stayed in the family until Hern’s great aunt passed away in the early 1970s. Gorman's story is kept alive with the old photos Hern keeps stored safely in a suitcase at his home.
“It’s little pieces of history,” he said.
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