The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum and Archives

Archive Record

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Catalog Number 2017.08.001
Title My Diary in France, 1917-1918 by Elmer G. McKay, Signaller, 3rd Can. Bttn Toronto Regiment
Scope & Content Personal diary of the First World War consisting of 114 pages (7.5" x 5") of daily handwritten entries covering the period 21 December 1917 to 31 December 1918. The last three completed page seem to incude poems or lyrics to a song.
Language of Material English
Creator McKay, Elmer Garfield
Admin/Biographical History A schoolmaster, McKay enlisted on 2 March 1917 with the 255th Battalion CEF at the age of 18. The battalion sailed from Halifax on the SS Olympic on 2 June 1917. 10 June 1917 he was transferred to the 12 Reserve Battalion and 21 December 1917 to the 3rd Battalion. The next day he arrived in France, and by the 29th he had joined his unit in the field.

While he seems to have survived his war generally unscathed, he did contract influenza in February 1919 although he wasn't hospitalized according to his service record. He was discharge in Toronto on 23 April 1919.

McKay died in 1976.
Archival History I think I should outline how the diary came into my possession. About ten years ago I paid someone to clear a pile of rubbish from my driveway. While talking he mentioned that people throw out all kinds of things. He had been paid to clean out a house in the area and found the diary among other material. He said the family were not interested in anything in the house so he kept the diary to read. I mentioned that the Toronto Regiment had probably been combined with other units but there was probably a unit somewhere that would welcome it.

A few days later he dropped by and passed the diary to me. I have not seen him or heard from him since then. I started to read through the diary but set it aside and it was buried among other papers until I started cleaning out books and papers in December. I decided that 2017 was the year that the diary should find its way to a museum and contacted the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, who suggested that your regiment might want to archive it.

David Beevis

[Subsequently found that Elmer's son Lloyd Garfield McKay died in Port Hope in 2000 and its presumed that the diary came from his estate.]
Condition Good
Search Terms 3rd Battalion
World War, 1914-1918
People McKay, Elmer Garfield
Event World War, 1914-1918
Credit line Donated by Mr. David Beevis
Associated Material First World Service record at Library and Archives Canada:

Dates of Accumulation NA
Dates of Creation 21 December 1917 to 31 December 1918
System of arrangement One bound notebook.
Year Range from 1917
Year Range to 1918