James Henry Hay - Lest We Forget

James Henry Hay was born March 2, 1894 at Revelstoke. He was the son of Henry Francis and Mary E. Hay, of Revelstoke, B.C. Henry Francis Hay was born July 31, 1862 in Ontario.  Mary Ellen Wilson Hay was born October 7, 1864 also in Ontario. Harry and Mary were married November 12, 1886 in Burke’s Falls, Ontario. They came to Revelstoke in 1891 living first in a house on the corner of First Street and Mackenzie Avenue. In 1894 they moved to a farm on the area around present day Nichol and Hay Roads. James had six siblings. George was born July 2, 1887 in Ontario, Mabel was born August 15, 1889 in Ontario, Mary was born September 6, 1895 in Golden, B.C., Ida (Jessie) was born January 9, 1899 in Revelstoke, Beatrice was born July 11, 1901 in Revelstoke and Francis was born June 1909 in Revelstoke.

James Hay is noted in the local School District records as having attended the Revelstoke High School in 1907. He had also attended Central Elementary School.

James Hay signed his enlistment papers May 22, 1915 at Vernon. He was one of about 100 men from this area to join the 54th Battalion in the spring and summer of 1915. His regimental number was 442095. He was 21 years old, working on his father’s farm, single, 5’ 11” tall with fair hair and blue eyes. His religious affiliation was Presbyterian.

James Hay died September 27, 1916 at the Battle of the Somme. He was 22 years old. At the time of his death he was a Private in the 7th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (British Columbia) Regiment. He is buried at the A.I.F. Burial Ground, Somme, France.

The local newspaper reported his death: A telegram from Ottawa reached Mr. Henry Hay on Saturday morning containing the sad announcement that his son, James Henry Hay, was missing and believed to be dead since Sept. 27.  While the message leaves a ray of hope that Jim may be a prisoner or in hospital, the deepest sympathy of the entire community goes out to Mr. and Mrs. Hay and the family in these days of suspense. James Hay was born in Revelstoke March 2nd, 22 years ago, when the Hay family occupied the residence standing on the site of the present Imperial Bank. His whole life was spent in the city until he joined the 54th in the spring of 1915, and left with them for overseas on July 16.  He entered the trenches on his birthday last March and had completed nearly seven months of ceaseless duty going through many a hard fight without once being wounded, until the fatal charge on September 27.”

The name of James Hay is inscribed on the Courthouse and Cenotaph plaques. There are still family members living in Revelstoke.

 James Henry Hay, (2nd from left in top row) with his siblings and parents Henry and Mary Ellen Hay, circa 1910.

James Henry Hay, (2nd from left in top row) with his siblings and parents Henry and Mary Ellen Hay, circa 1910.