|Date of Birth||April 22, 1889|
|Place of Birth||O'Connell, Rama Township, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||George Cleaveley, O'Connell PO, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Farmer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Date of Enlistment||August 27, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||26|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||July 2, 1960|
|Age at Death||71|
|Buried At||Archmount Cemetery, Lethbridge, Ontario|
Albert Reginald Cleaveley was born on 22 April 1889 near O’Connell in the township of Rama, northeast of Orillia in Ontario. His father George Cleaveley was from Charlton Kings, Gloucester in England while his mother Fanny Dockerill was from Leighton Buzzard in Bedford. The couple married on 16 November 1867 in Billington, Bedford, and gave birth to two children, Jonathan and Annie, before immigrating to Canada in 1872. Farming in Rama, other known children born to the family were William, Richard, Mary, George, Ezra, Walter Edward, Charles, Joseph Ephraim, Fanny, Albert, Phoebe Jane, and Henrietta.
With occupation given as farmer and his father George Cleaveley, O’Connell PO, as next of kin, Albert signed his attestation papers on 27 August 1915 in Orillia. He gave previous/active military service as with the 23rd Regiment, Parry Sound. He had a fair complexion, blue eyes, and blonde hair. With recruitment in Central Ontario and mobilization at Niagara on the Lake, the 58th Battalion embarked from Halifax aboard the Saxonia on 22 November 1915. On board was Private Albert Cleaveley.
While training at Bramshott in England, Albert was awarded 14 days No 2 Field Punishment and forfeit of pay on 27 January 1916 for disobeying an order of a NCO. While undergoing the field punishment and on active service, he was absent without leave from 29 January-17 February 1916, forfeiting a further 20 days pay and awarded 21 days No 2 Field Punishment. Just days later, on 20 February the 58th Battalion embarked for France.
On 9 October 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, Albert was admitted to the No 1 Australian General Hospital in Rouen, suffering shrapnel/gunshot wounds to the left shoulder and foot. He was evacuated to England and admitted to the 1st Eastern General Hospital in Liverpool on the 14th. In mid January of 1917 Albert was transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Woodcote Park in Epsom, with discharge on 28 February. By mid March Albert had been admitted to the Military Hospital Court Farm in Warlingham (vdg), transferring to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Hillingdon in Uxbridge on 30 November, with discharge on 4 December.
In April of 1918 Albert rejoined the 58th Battalion in the field. The Hundred Days Offensive was to be the final period of the war during which the Allies launched a series of offensives against the Central Powers on the Western Front, beginning with the Battle of Amiens on 8 August. All four Canadian Divisions faced battle on that day, penetrating some 16,000 yards to east of Caix, a record for any action on the Western Front. It has been reported that the cost of this action for the Canadian Corp as 1 036 killed and 2 803 wounded, with 29 taken prisoner. On the first day of the battle in the vicinity of Hamon Wood, Albert sustained penetrating wounds to the neck and chest, later admitted to the No 47 Casualty Clearing Station. Dangerously ill, he was transferred to the No 6 General Hospital in Rouen on the 10th. The chest wound would not heal, with infection setting in and the lung collapsing. Invalided to England, he was admitted to the Southwark Military Hospital in London on 8 September. Albert would spend time in a number of hospitals in England in a long process of healing before being invalided to Canada aboard the Araguaya, a hospital ship, arriving on 31 May 1919. He was still very ill with a large opening in his chest that had considerable discharge and was admitted to the Spadina Military Hospital in Toronto. Albert was transferred to the St Andrew’s Military Hospital in Toronto in early July where he remained until discharged on 19 March 1920. With the same date, Albert was discharged from service as medically unfit, foreign body still present in his chest and disability deemed as permanent.
Working as a prospector in the Blackpool area of British Columbia, Albert’s brother Joseph signed his recruitment papers in Vancouver on 17 June 1918. He embarked from Halifax aboard the Atreus on 10 August and served in England with the 1st Canadian Reserve Battalion. It was noted that Joseph was completely deaf in one ear. Joseph returned to Canada aboard the Aquitania in June of 1919, discharged from service in Toronto on the 22nd.
On 18 November 1924 in Orillia, Albert married Grace Chantler. On the marriage record Albert’s occupation was given as farmer and residence as Orillia. Grace was born on 1 February 1902 in the County of Simcoe, the daughter of Lewis and Emma (née Inch) Chantler. By the time of the marriage Grace and her family were living in Huntsville.
Albert and Grace were to make the hamlet of Minaki in northwestern Ontario their home. Minaki is located about 55 kilometres north of Kenora. Albert had gained employment with the Department of Lands and Forest and would serve as Chief Ranger in Minaki from 1928 until his retirement in May of 1955. In the early years fire rangers patrolled vast areas by canoe, putting out small fires and mapping larger ones. By the late 1930’s/early 1940’s responsibilities became broader in scope, the Chief Ranger not only concerned with forest protection but also phases of timber management, reforestation, public relations, insect control, and lands, fish, and wildlife management and conservation.
Albert and Grace gave birth to four children, William George (Bill), Ruth Mae, John Kenneth, and Joan Grace. Following in Albert’s footsteps, three subsequent generations of Cleaveleys have served with the Department of Lands and Forests/Ministry of Natural Resources for a total of more than 120 years of combined service, with perhaps more generations and years of service to come.
At some point after his retirement, Albert and Grace moved to Lethbridge, Alberta where their daughter Joan was living. Following a lengthy illness, Albert died on 2 July 1960. He was predeceased by both of his parents in 1932 and some of his siblings, his parents and many siblings interred in the Atherley Cemetery near Orillia. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Grace, sons William and John in Ontario, daughters Ruth Brown of Fort William, Ontario and Joan Pruegger of Lethbridge, and eleven grandchildren. He was also survived by brothers Charles and Joe in Kamloops, BC, Dave in Tisdale, SK, and George in Swan River, SK. Grace later moved to southern Ontario and died on 10 March 1979. She is interred in the Saint John’s Dixie Cemetery in Mississauga along with son William.
By Judy Stockham