The Munro Letters 1914 - 1917 : Letters Home from the Front - World War I

This exhibit is an unusual and rich collection of World War I correspondance from the front lines between brothers Hugh Gordon Munro and Arthur Melville Munro and their parents, their siblings and friends back home in Canada.

Hugh Gordon Munro and Arthur Melville Munro are pictured at right.

The exhibit comprises approximately 191 pieces of correspondance, including:

    - 34 letters from Gordon to his parents
    - 63 letters from Melville to his parents
    - 11 letters from James and Jessie Munro to Gordon
    - 4 letters between Gordon and Melville
    - 22 letters between Gordon and Melville and their other siblings
    - 17 letters from their friend G. B. Chisholm and either Gordon or Melville
    - 40 letters between other family relatives and friends and Gordon and Melville

The exhibit also contains other information related to the Munro brothers, including:

    - photos of the brothers and some of their classmates from before their enlistment
    - photos of Contay British Cemetery in France and the gravesite of Hugh Gordon Munro
    - a link to a video of the Contay British Cemetery
    - copies of the military records for both Hugh Gordon and Arthur Melville

History of the Munro Family


Rev. Dr. James E. Munro and Jessie L. Munro

Dr. James Munro was born in Ontario in November, 1861. Jessie Munro was born in June 1868, also in Ontario. Sometime after their marriage, they moved to Gladstone, Manitoba where Dr. Munro served at the Gladstone Presbyterian Church. They had 5 children while they lived in Gladstone: Edward, Gordon, Melville, Margaret and Ethel.

The Munros moved from Gladstone Manitoba to Oakville in 1909. Rev. Dr. Munro served as minister at Knox Presbyterian Church from 1909 until the vote to form the United Chruch was held in January of 1925. They lived at The Manse (now 241 Trafalgar Road). Rev. Dr. Munro supported the union of the Congregationalist, Methodist and Presbyterian churches into a single, United Church. 98 members of his church joined with him at what became St. John's United Church. Most of his congregation stayed with the Presbyterian Church. Within a year of the split, the Munros moved to Toronto.

Hugh Gordon Munro

Gordon was born December 30,1896 in Gladstone, Manitoba, according to the 1911 Canadian census. He enlisted in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force on May 26 1915, where his birthdate is given as December 30, 1897. He served with the 17th Canadian Battalion and transferred to the15th Battalion Canadian Infantry in France and was promoted to Corporal. He died on October 9,1916 of gunshot wounds suffered in the first battle of the Somme, at the age of 19. He is buried in the Contay British Cemetary, Contay France.

Arthur Melville Munro

Melville was born July 3,1898 in Gladstone, Manitoba. He enlisted in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force on March 4 1916 at the age of 17 and served in France. He served with the 164th Batallion and transfered to the 2nd Canadian Reserve Batallion in April 1917. This unit was absorbed into the 4th Battalion Canadian Machine Gun Depot (CMGD). He was wounded in the back on September 2, 1918, just 40 days before the end of the war. He was evacuated to England to recover from his wounds and was on leave in Ireland when the Armistice was signed on November 11,1918. He returned to Canada, landing in Halifax on December 31, 1918. He was discharged from the military on January 24, 1919.

George Brock Chisholm

Brock Chisholm was a classmate and a friend of the Munro brothers. Brock Chisholm survived the First World War and during the Second World War he ws the Director General, Medical Services, the highest ranking medical office in the Canadian Army. In 1948 he became the first Director General of the World Health Organization.

Nicknames

Nicknames are used throughout the letters, which can make identification of the people challenging. A list of nicknames is provided below:
Bill - Ethel Munro (sister of Arthur Melville and Hugh Gordon)
Gug - Hugh Gordon Munro
Pork or Porky - Arthur Melville Munro
Pug - Margaret Munro
Scout or Nemo - George Brock Chisholm

The Oakville Cenotaph

In 1921 the Town of Oakville gathered to dedicate the cenotaph in George's Square, which includes the name of Gordon Munro. Rev. Dr. Munro offered the dedicatory prayer.

Acknowledgements

This collection was made possible by the generous gift of the letter by Mrs. Lynne Munro, Melville's daughter-in-law. We also acknowledge the efforts of volunteers at the Oakville Historical Society, especially Sherry Snider, Megan Headrick and Ella Boswell who did the transcriptions.

If you make use of this information or images, please let us know and acknowledge the Oakville Historical Society. If you come across any errors in transcription, please also email us and let us know so we can make corrections.

Click Here to Start the Exhibit.

The Munro Letters 1914 - 1917
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