Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A 1940 Interview With George William Poldon

“The London Free Press”, March 2, 1940 interview of George William Poldon (1) who the interviewer claimed was the last surviving veteran of the Oxford Rifles during the Fenian Raids. As far as I know he may well have been the last surviving veteran of the Fenian Raids left in Ontario by 1940.

“I joined the 22nd. Battalion as a lad of 18,” he recalled with a reminiscent smile. Capt. J.W. Nesbitt’s Rifle Company No.6, of which I was a member, was really formed in the fall of 1865, but the men did not obtain their uniforms and equipment until May 24, the following year.

The call came on June 1 and we were rushed to Woodstock in whatever vehicles were available and then loaded on a train of box cars. We were just tumbled in like sheep,” Mr. Poldon laughed. We were taken as far as Paris and spent the night there.”

The next lap of the journey was in Port Colbourne, where the men remained overnight. Accommodations were poor, many of the soldiers lacking overcoats and blankets, and the food being far from appetising, he related.

“By the time we reached the battlefield, the Fenians had fled and taken shelter on a scow anchored out on the river, off Fort Erie. The boys would have liked to indulge in a little rifle practice in their direction but that was forbidden, continued the veteran with amusement.”

“Within a few days, the battalion went to London and after two weeks there we came back to Norwich and received a royal welcome, he said.”


(1) George William Poldon born 11 February, 1848 in the village of Norwich, Oxford County, Upper Canada, and died sometime after January, 1940. He married Isabella Haight ( 1854 - 6 January, 1891) on the 12 October, 1881.(2)

(2) Ontario Marriages, 1801-1828.

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