Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 2, 1883
Place of BirthPrinceton, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Elizabeth Little (mother), Guelph, Ontario
Trade / CallingPresbyterian minister
Service Details
Regimental NumberN/A
Service Record Link to Service Record
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Chaplain Service
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentLondon, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentGuelph, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 19, 1918
Age at Enlistment34
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 21, 1958
Age at Death74
Buried AtWoodland Cemetery, London, Ontario

Little, George Albert

Reverend Dr. George Albert Little was born in Princeton, Ontario on 2 April 1883. His father, James Little, was born in Ontario and his mother, Elizabeth Cowan, was from Ireland. James was a Presbyterian minister and he and his wife had at least eight children: Hanna, Elizabeth, Mary, John, James, Nora, William and George. The family lived in several different places in southwestern Ontario. George attended the University of Toronto, graduating in 1906 and becoming a minister like his father.

After finishing school George did mission work for a few years. In June 1909 he moved to Kenora, Ontario where he was ordained and inducted as the pastor at Knox Presbyterian Church. He served there for three years and left Kenora in August 1912 to move back to southern Ontario. The congregation at Knox Church held a farewell social and presented him with a gold watch and chain. The war started two years later and George’s brother, William McKay Little, enlisted in June 1916. He was killed in action at Passchendaele on 10 November 1917 and he’s buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium. Three months after his brother died George enlisted with the Canadian Chaplain Service.

Canadian chaplains or ‘padres’ had accompanied soldiers into battle in small numbers during the North-West Rebellion (1885) and the South African War (1899-1902). When the First World War started hundreds of clergymen from all denominations volunteered to serve with the troops, both at home and overseas. By the end of the war over 500 had enlisted. In August 1915 the Canadian Chaplain Service was organized as a distinct branch in the Canadian forces and chaplains were commissioned as honourary officers when they signed up.

George signed his Officer’s Declaration on 19 February 1918 in London, Ontario. His address was Guelph and next of kin was his widowed mother, also living in Guelph. George embarked for Great Britain at the end of February and served in England with the 1st and 11th Reserve Battalions for eight months. Chaplains held church services and Bible studies; officiated at funerals; organized sports, musical concerts and other recreational activities; operated canteens; ministered personally to the troops; visited soldiers in hospitals and prisons; sent letters of condolence to relatives of those who died; and wrote letters for illiterate or wounded soldiers.

George was sent to France on 18 November 1918, a week after the Armistice. He was posted to the 4th Canadian Divisional Headquarters then the 4th Brigade Canadian Engineers, which were stationed in Belgium at the time. He returned to England in May 1919 and embarked for Canada the following month, sailing on the Royal George. He was discharged on demobilization on 18 June in Toronto.

George was married in Toronto a week later, on 25 June 1919. His wife, Marguerite Evangeline Meldrum, was a school teacher. She was born in 1891 in Whitby, Ontario, the daughter of Peter and Alice Meldrum. When the 1921 census was taken George and Marguerite were living in Guelph but within a few years they had moved to Toronto. They had two children, William Meldrum (1924) and Elizabeth ‘Libby’ Mary (1928). William served with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the British Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War.

In addition to his work as a Presbyterian and United Church minister, George was a temperance lecturer, writer and editor of Sunday school publications. He was instrumental in founding the first Alcoholics Anonymous group in Canada in 1943, a few years after the first American groups were organized. He passed away in Toronto on 21 January 1958, at age 74, and Marguerite died in 1979. They are buried in Woodland Cemetery in London, Ontario, along with George’s parents. William died in 2007 and he’s interred at Springcreek Cemetery in Mississauga. Libby passed away in Austin, Texas in 2014.

George is commemorated on the University of Toronto First World War Roll of Service, published in 1921.

By Becky Johnson

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