Wednesday, 1 November 2017

George Randolph Pearkes VC

Yesterday, on the centenary of the actions for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the Library and Archives Canada blog posted a vignette of George Randolph Pearkes` career. It focuses on his military and subsequent achievements.
His earlier life is an example of challenges overcome by immigrants to the Prairies. He was born in England to upper middle class parents wealthy enough to send him to Berkhamsted School. His ambition was to obtain a commission in the British Army on leaving the school but by that time his family had fallen on hard times and were unable to afford the extras necessary to hold such a position.
Instead he came to Canada with minimal capital to an outpost of the school near Red Deer, Alberta, supposedly to train in farming. His story, which saw him struggle to develop a farm, join a survey party in Northern Alberta and the NorthWest Mounted Police, gives a vivid picture of the early years in Canada. An Alberta Historical Review article A Berkhamsted Boy in the Foothills, available online through Peel`s Prairie Provinces, is worthwhile reading to understand the experience of many who migrated from Britain to the Prairies in the major settlement period in the decade prior to the Great War.

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