|Date of Birth||June 17, 1891|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Walter Ross (father), Lethbridge, Alberta|
|Trade / Calling||Rancher|
|Force||Royal Air Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||Room 7, Dominion Building, Lethbridge, Alberta|
|Date of Enlistment||November 10, 1917|
|Age at Enlistment||26|
|Theatre of Service||Great Britain|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||June 22, 1956|
|Age at Death||65|
|Buried At||Mountain View Cemetery, Lethbridge, Alberta|
Flight Second Lieutenant George Graham Ross joined the Royal Flying Corps in November 1917 and served in Canada and the UK for 16 months, returning home in March 1919.
George was the oldest son of Walter Inkermann Ross and Grace Graham. Walter was born in Quebec and moved to Michigan with his family as a child. His wife was born in Windsor, Ontario and grew up in St. Catharines, on the Niagara Peninsula. They were married in Windsor in February 1888 and they made their home in Rat Portage (now called Kenora), in northwestern Ontario. Walter worked as a contractor and they had three children, all born in Rat Portage: Eileen (1889), George Graham (17 June 1891) and John Alexander, known as Jack (1893). Sadly, Eileen died at age nine months and George’s mother passed away in June 1895, when he was four. Grace suffered from consumption and she died in a hospital in Fort William. When the 1901 census was taken Walter was still living in Rat Portage but not long after that he and his two boys moved out west.
Walter took up cattle ranching in southern Alberta and he founded Ross Ranches on the Milk River Ridge, near Lethbridge. George worked with his father in the family business but his brother was interested in a military career. After attending a prep school in Ontario Jack was accepted at the Royal Military College in Kingston. The war started in August 1914 and he enlisted at Valcartier, Quebec a few months later, getting a commission as a Lieutenant. By the time he went overseas in May 1915 he was a Major. He earned a Distinguished Service Order in April 1916 and in September he was missing and presumed killed at the Battle of the Somme.
George planned to serve as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps if he could qualify. By early 1916 the flying schools in Canada were full and had long waiting lists so like hundreds of other Canadian lads George headed to the U.S. for his training. He attended the Curtiss Flying School on the outskirts of Hampton News, Virginia. George graduated from his course in June and went to Toronto to enquire about joining the Royal Flying Corps. His plans may have been put on hold after the death of his brother Major Jack Ross and it wasn’t until the fall of 1917 that he enlisted. He signed up in Winnipeg on 10 November, as an aviator cadet, and served two months in reserve before being mobilized on 11 January 1918.
While George was training in Canada the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service were amalgamated to form the Royal Air Force. In August 1918 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the RAF and a month later he was sent to England. He trained in the UK for another six months, mainly at No. 7 Training Depot Station in Feltwell, Norfolk. While he was overseas he met his future wife, Rodney Whitson Ogg. Rodney was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, the daughter of John and Agnes Ogg, and she was a year younger than George.
After the Armistice was signed in November operations began winding down and George was transferred to the ‘unemployed list’ on 4 March 1919. He arrived in St. John’s, Newfoundland a few days later on the SS Minnedosa and he likely headed home to the family ranch. In September he travelled back east again, this time to get married. Rodney arrived in Quebec on 9 September, also on the SS Minnedosa, and they were married in Montreal the next day.
George and his wife settled into life at Ross Ranches. They had four children: Grace (1921-1928), George Graham Jr. (1923-1971), John Campbell (1925-2008) and Walter Rodney (1931-1987). George and his sons carried on the business started by Walter and became one of the most prominent ranch families in southern Alberta. All three boys were pilots and they pioneered the use of aircraft in managing their large land holdings. George owned several ranches over the years, including one in the Sweet Grass Hills in Montana. In the late 1940s he founded Lost River Ranch in the Aden area with his sons and two partners. He also got involved in the oil industry. He served as president of the Western Stock Growers’ Association for several years and he was a member of the Canadian Council of Beef Producers and the Flying Farmers of Alberta.
George passed away on 22 June 1956, at age 65, and his wife Rodney died in 1967. They are both buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Lethbridge. George is commemorated in the book The Hills of Home, a local history of Aden, Alberta. Ross International Airport near Coutts, Alberta is named after his family.
By Becky Johnson
Photos are from ‘The Hills of Home’ and the Ross family tree on ancestry.ca