Tarris, Harold Alton
Although a birth record was not found, by most accounts Harold Alton Tarris was born on 6 June 1897 in Oxford Junction, Nova Scotia. His parents Eli Tarris and Florence Killam were both from New Brunswick, Eli from Hillsborough and Florence from Salisbury. The couple married on 13 March 1891 in nearby Moncton. Harold had an older sister May and a younger brother Cecil who was born about 1899 in the United States (according to the 1911 census). Sadly, it appears that Eli died a short time later and by 1907 Florence married James Vincent Lutz, a shoemaker, in Kenora, Ontario. Also from New Brunswick, James’ brother Samuel had married Florence’s sister Lilly and were living in Kenora at the time. The 1911 census found James, Florence, the children, and Florence’s sister Myrtle living in Lethbridge, Alberta. The family then relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia where Florence died in 1913.
Harold enlisted with the 29th Battalion on 7 November 1914 in Vancouver. His occupation was given as warehouse clerk, his sister May in Minneapolis, Minnesota as next of kin, and his year of birth as 1896. Prior military experience was given as two years, Lethbridge Cadets. As a Private with the battalion, Harold embarked from Montreal aboard the Missanabie on 20 May 1915 and by mid September was in France. Over the course of the war the 29th Battalion saw major action involved in Mount Sorrel, Somme: Flers-Courcelette, Thiepval, Ancre Heights, Arras: Vimy, Arleux, Scarpe, Hill 70, Ypres: Passchendaele, Amiens, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Canal du Nord, Cambrai, Pursuit to Mons, and March to the Rhine.
On 30 May 1916 in the trenches at St Eloi, Harold sustained contusions to his right arm and elbow, fracturing his ulna. First admitted to the No 6 Canadian Field Ambulance, Harold was invalided to England and admitted to the Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Hospital in Taplow, Buckinghamshire on 16 June. In July he was transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Hillingdon House in Uxbridge and then on to the Woodcote Park in Epsom. Later that month he was briefly transferred to the 30th Reserve Battalion before returning to France for service with the 29th Battalion that September.
In January of 1917 Harold wrote a letter to his uncle and aunt Samuel and Lilly Lutz in Kenora that was published in the local newspaper. In it he thanked the people of Kenora for the parcels that they had sent. Samuel and Lilly’s son George
had gone overseas to serve with the No 10 Canadian Field Ambulance. In March of 1917 Harold was awarded one Good Conduct Badge. Another Kenora newspaper article that May reported that Harold had been wounded. He had spent a day at a field ambulance in late April, nature of the wound unknown.
In early November of 1917 Harold was granted two weeks leave to England and permission to marry. During the last quarter of 1917 Harold married Ada Georgina Hilder in Hastings, Sussex. Born on 3 May 1900 in Hastings, Ada was the daughter of Henry Hilder, fish hawker, and Emily Busby, both from Hollington in Sussex. Harold returned from his leave on 23 November.
During a second leave to England in November of 1918, Harold was admitted to the No 13 General Hospital at Hastings. He was diagnosed with DAH, disorderly action of the heart, also sometimes called effort syndrome or soldier’s heart and was often the result of stress or fatigue. His record indicated it dated back to April of 1917 at Vimy Ridge, the result of active service conditions. In March of 1919 Harold was boarded for invaliding to Canada but was discharged from service on 23 June 1919 in England, proposed residence given as 39 Percy Road in Hastings.
Harold and Ada immigrated to Canada in 1920, arriving in St John’s, Newfoundland aboard the Metagama 6 January. Although the passenger list indicated that they were on their way to Winnipeg, the settled in Kenora, giving birth to daughter Florence in the spring of 1921. At the time of the 1921 census they were living on Main Street North in Kenora, with Harold working as a teamster. A short time later they moved to Winnipeg where son Harold was likely born in 1922. From there the family moved to Vancouver. The marriage ended in divorce, with Ada marrying Wilburne William Middler on 13 September 1928 in Vancouver. Ada later died in 1959.
Harold married Louise Mabel Tanner on 10 February 1933 in Vancouver. Born about 1909 in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Louise was the daughter of Joseph Tanner and Madeline Portras. At the time of the marriage Harold was working as a logger and Louise as a waitress. Over the years Voters lists indicated that Harold worked for a while as a millkman and later as a storekeeper while his BC death record gave his occupation as Auto Marine Electric clerk. It is not known if any more children were born.
Harold died on 2 April 1964 in the Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver. Louise later died in November of 2002. They are interred together in Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.
By Judy Stockham