History Mystery

Although I’ve chosen to make Canada my home, I still love my country of birth. So when I find a historical story that connects the two I get really excited!  But sometimes that excitement can lead to ‘historical’ frustration.

The book,  TEA AT MISS CRANSTON’S, (not related – at least, I don’t think so) recounts the memories of Glaswegians growing up in the city in the first half of the 20th Century. Inside its pages I found this fascinating nugget.

Chapter 15 – Their Weans Would Never Be. P127

Another fleeting recollection of 1915 was the swift passage through wartime Glasgow in a bleak week of smirring drizzle and gloom, of an exotic party of Canadian Indian troops commanded by Chief Clear Sky.  They were on their way to the war and sampled Glasgow hospitality enjoying a first, and no doubt last, taste of black pudding.

But they left one young Indian behind.  His name was Gay Flier.  He was very very ill with flu and died in Govan Military Hospital.  My grandpa had been seeing to Chief Clear Sky’s men when they were in Glasgow and so’s not to let the boy get buried in an unmarked grave he claimed the body and saw to it that there was a right funeral in Glasgow with magistrates there, a gun carriage and a party to fire a salute at the grave.  It wasnae among his own open-air folk, but it was better than being not heeded at all.

Absolutely incredible! I had to find out more, so the last time I was in Glasgow I headed to The Mitchell Library to undertake some research on this young native Canadian soldier. Although I came up with plenty of newspaper coverage of the regiment landing in Glasgow and going through to Edinburgh (click on this link) there was nothing about the soldier himself.

I’m determined to solve this mystery. If anyone out there has any ideas how to go about this, I would love to hear from you!


8 thoughts on “History Mystery

  1. How fascinating. You do find the most interesting stories to reveal. Have you tried googling his name (of course that’s probably a first) – or maybe his tribe to start? There must be something more in this day and age. Good luck.

    • Thanks, Mary. Since posting this earlier today, I’ve done a wee bit more research and fired off some e-mails to the ex-Govan Military Hospital to find out where they keep their records and also to the War Museum in Ottawa to see if they have anything. Even the list of the names of the soldiers who sailed together. I have a feeling the name Gay Flier may be wrong as I searched the Scottish Death Records for December 1916/January 1917 and it didn’t come up. It’s just so tantalising.

  2. I did a bit of searching and couldn’t find anything on him but… I found this Francis Pegahmagabow was the First Nation soldier most highly decorated for bravery in Canadian military history and the most effective sniper of World War I. Then I got distracted as I saw pictures of Adam Beech – another famous Canadian native – I find very interesting.

  3. Please, please, please post any news on this story. It is an absolutely fascinating tidbit and touching at the same time. I’m struck not only by the humanity of the story but the sadness of one so young dying so far from home.
    Thanks Diana

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