|Date of Birth||March 23, 1889|
|Place of Birth||Redickville, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Mrs Agnes Sleightholm, mother, Huronville, Saskatchewan|
|Trade / Calling||Salesman|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Shelburne, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||February 10, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||26|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||October 18, 1961|
|Age at Death||72|
|Buried At||Glendale Memorial Gardens, Etobicoke, Ontario|
Robert Thomas McCormick was born on 23 March 1889 in Redickville in the Township of Melancthon, Dufferin, Ontario. His father Robert McCormick was born in Ireland and by the time of the 1881 Canada census was farming with his parents John and Letitia and siblings in Melancthon. His mother Agnes Matthews was born in the nearby Township of Mulmar where her family farmed. Robert and Agnes married on 22 February 1888 in the town of Shelburne. The 1891 census found the family farming in the Township of Melancthon, having given birth to Robert followed by son John. At age 34, Robert Sr died on 25 May 1891 of valvular heart disease. Agnes later married widower Matthew Sleightholm on 30 April 1893 in Horning’s Mill in the Township of Melancthon. Living in Shelburne and working as a carpenter, Matthew had previously married Sarah Jane Stone in 1887 in Shelburne, the couple giving birth to son William Ellerby in April of 1891. William had died later that year, with Sarah passing away in July of 1892.
By the time of the 1901 census Matthew and Agnes were living in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario where Matthew was working as a carpenter. Children born in Rat Portage were Cecil Talmage (1897), Rachel Edna May (1899), and William (1900). Robert was also living with the family at the time with further trace of his brother John not be found/confirmed. By 1902 the family had relocated to Winnipeg, giving birth to daughter Victoria Agnes that year. Sadly, Victoria died in May of 1904 and is interred in the Elmwood Cemetery in Winnipeg. Leaving Winnipeg, by the time of the 1911 census the family had moved to Saskatchewan to farm near Huronville, about 125 kilometres southeast of Regina. The 1916 census listed Robert with the family on the farm but indicated that he was in Orangeville training as a soldier.
Having returned to Shelburne, Robert signed his attestation papers on 10 February 1916 in Shelburne. His date and place of birth was given as 24 March 1888 in Melancthon, his mother Agnes in Huronville as next of kin, and his occupation as salesman. A portion of his pay was assigned to Miss Frances Cameron of Shelburne. Based in Orangeville, Ontario, the 164th Battalion began recruiting in late 1915 in Halton and Dufferin Counties. As a Corporal with the battalion, Robert embarked from Halifax aboard the Carpathia on 10 April 1917, arriving in England on the 22nd.
First taken on strength with the 2nd Reserve Battalion upon arrival, Robert was later transferred back to the 164th Battalion in late May. In March of 1918, at his request, he reverted to the rank of Private. At the time he transferred to the 116th Battalion as a result of the breaking down of the 164th Battalion to other units. Robert arrived in France later that month, joining the unit on the 19th.
On 15 August 1918 Robert sustained shrapnel wounds to his right hand and was admitted to the No 1 Australian General Hospital in Rouen the next day. In early September he was transferred to the No 13 Convalescent Depot in Trouville and rejoined his unit in early October, appointed Lance Corporal on the 13th. Although the details are not known, on 28 September 1918 Robert was awarded the Military Medal. He was granted a fourteen day leave in mid January of 1919 and returned to England in mid February where he was appointed Acting Corporal. Embarking from Liverpool, Robert arrived in Halifax aboard the Cretic on 24 March 1919. He was discharged from service on demobilization on 28 March in Toronto, proposed residence given as Glenavon in Saskatchewan.
With the onset of conscription in the latter part of the war, Robert’s half brother Cecil Sleightholm was called up for service on 20 May 1918 in Regina. First assigned to the 1st Depot Battalion, Saskatchewan Regiment as a Private, he was transferred to the 2nd DD Casualty Company in March of 1919 and was promoted to Provost Sergeant on 2 May. Cecil was discharged from service on demobilization on 2 July 1919 in Regina.
On 2 June 1920, in Toronto, Robert married Frances Margaret (Reta) Cameron. Born on 4 December 1895 in Dundalk in the Shelburne area, Frances was the daughter of George Henry Cameron and Margaret Jane Anderson. At the time of the marriage both Robert and Frances were living in Toronto where Robert was working as a tire builder. For the 1921 census the couple was living on Keele Street with Robert listed as a salesman. They later gave birth to daughter Betty Jane. Sadly, Frances died of multiple neuritis on 21 January 1931 in Toronto. She is interred in the Shelburne Cemetery along with her parents and some of her siblings. At some point Robert remarried, his spouse listed as Jennie Strachan in his obituary.
Robert died on 18 October 1961 in Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Jennie, daughter Betty Jane (Chandler) Hunter, and step children Margaret and Albert. He was predeceased by his mother Agnes (1951) and stepfather Matthew (1944), both in Regina, and half brothers William (1930 in Glenavon) and Cecil (1951 in Vancouver). Robert is interred in Glendale Memorial Gardens in Etobicoke, Ontario.
By Judy Stockham
Photograph of Robert and Betty provided by Robert’s grandson.