Olympic Medalist Joins the RMR in 1915

Friday, May 7, 1915

In billets, Bailleul (Nouveau Monde)

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Large draft of about 275 men arrived from England, mostly men from Toronto and Ontario points.  It was discovered that men from Montreal who had come to England with 23rd Bn. C.E.F., and who were mostly from home units of the 14th Bn. had been sent to Ontario units in France.  Much resentment felt by all ranks at this.  Draft sent 14th Bn. was however, of good quality.  Lt. Robertson* arrived from England and was taken on strength”. [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: The Battalion was to remain in these billets, resting and refitting after the Second Battle of Ypres.  In that battle 4 officers of the Battalion had been killed and 8 wounded; amongst the other ranks 65 had been killed, 143 wounded, and 49 taken prisoner.   [2]

* Note: This officer was Lieut. Irvine Geale Robertson (July 10, 1882 – February 26, 1956) of Toronto.  He was a Canadian rower, affiliated with the Argonaut Rowing Club of Toronto, who competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics, as a bowman of the Canadian boat, which won the bronze medal in the eights.  He was a bank accountant  who later became Honorary Captain and Pay-Master.

He married the only daughter of Rt. Hon. Sir George Halsey Perley who for more than 25 years was either a member of the House of Commons, a Minister of the Government, or Canadian High Commissioner in London.  Sir George H. Perley had no sons, and therefore to perpetuate the Perley name, Captain Irvine G. Robertson changed his name to Perley-Robertson.

Captain Perley-Robertson  and his wife had five children and were the second owners of the house in Ottawa known now known as “Stornoway” which they named after the ancestral home of the Perley family in the outer Hebrides of Scotland.

During the Second World War, from summer 1941 to 1945, Mrs. Perley-Robertson offered Stornoway to (then) Princess Juliana of the Netherlands as a temporary home-in-exile for the Dutch Royal Family, including the future Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

Stornoway has served its present role as the Official Residence of the Leader of the Opposition since 1950, when it was purchased by a group of concerned citizens and later transferred to the Government of Canada.

Captain Perley-Robertson died at Ottawa Feb 26, 1959.

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, May 7, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089731.jpg
[2]   R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg. 52.

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