Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 17, 1883
Place of BirthCurracloe, Wexford
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinWilliam John Toole (father), Curracloe House, Wexford, Ireland
Trade / CallingBroker
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental NumberN/A
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion31st Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentCalgary, Alberta
Address at EnlistmentCalgary, Alberta
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 2, 1915
Age at Enlistment31
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Decorations and MedalsMilitary Cross
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 19, 1963
Age at Death79
Buried AtBurnsland Cemetery, Calgary, Alberta
PlotSection H, Block 20

Toole, Archer John

Introduction:  Archer John Toole was one of four brothers who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. None of them were born in Kenora, and only one, Archer, lived there, for a short time. Yet, the names of all brothers have been recorded in the local newspaper, The Miner and News, because of their connection to their brother, George Archer Toole. George was an early pioneer in Kenora who had become a prominent figure in the community, including being elected Mayor in 1919, and being a founding partner of The Standard Realty Company. Each of George’s brothers stands on his own merits: Laurence Henry, Archer John, David Frederick “Jack”, and Edward Thomas (see all their stories in the online site, Canadian Great War Project). Four went to war. Only two returned home. Archer was one of them. This is his story.

Family Background: According to the memorial article in Du Rivigny’s United Kingdom Roll of Honour 1914-1919 for Archer’s brother, Edward, the Toole children were descended from families who had some wealth and held positions of regard in their professions and within their communities. William John Toole, their father, was both a land owner and land agent. The name of their home was Curracloe House. William’s father, Captain William O’Toole, of the 40th British Regiment, served with distinction throughout his life. Their mother, Magdalene Thompson, was the daughter of William Thompson, a surgeon, who practiced in the army hospital in Madras, India, the city in which Magdalene was born in 1845.

Family Life: Archer John was born December 17,1883 in Curracloe, Wexford, Ireland. He was one of 13 known children of William and Magdalene, all born in Country Wexford. His siblings were: William (1871-1952, nickname Barney); Isabella (1872-1919); Catherine (1873-1955); George Archer (1874-1957); Mary (1876-); Annie (1877-); Magdalene (1878-1940); Laurence Henry (1879-1967); Henrietta (1880-1968); Victoria (1881-1963); Edward Thomas (1885-1916); and David Frederick Jack (1886-1918).

The Toole family is recorded in Wexford until at least 1888, when William lost his fortune in an investment in which beach land was being developed into farmland. The land was destroyed in a storm leaving the Tooles in financial stress (referenced by Toole-Peet history).

The next record of them is in the 1891 Census living at 20 Shiel Road, Civil Parish of West Derby, Lancashire, England.  William is a cattle salesman. He and Magdalene and 12 of their children – most of whom are attending school – also have living with them Magdalene’s unmarried sister, two teenaged cousins, and a servant. The oldest son, William, is no longer living with the family..

By the time of the 1901 census, the father, William, appears to have regained some wealth as he is now a cattle salesman, land owner and employer. He and Magdalene now have only 6 children, including Archer, residing at home and continue to live at 20 Shiel Road. One cousin, a cook, and a domestic servant also live with them.

At some point, some members of the Toole family returned to Curracloe House. The 1911 Census of Ireland records Magdalene as Head of the family, three adult daughters, one granddaughter,  and two servants. Family members are all Church of Ireland. Although William, Magdalene’s husband, is not listed with the family, he was identified as next of kin by all four sons who enlisted in the Great War; and this is the address given in their military records.

Pre-War:  According to the family records, located in the Glenbow Archives in Calgary, Archer arrived in Canada in 1908. The following year, he began working as a Broker for Toole Peet and Company Ltd., his older brother’s insurance and real estate firm (established in 1897 by George Peet).  Prior to enlistment, he was active in the 103th Calgary Rifles. On May 26, 1915, shortly before Archer went overseas with his battalion, he married  Edith “Phoebe” Sanders, the daughter of North West Mounted Police Officer – and, later, Police Magistrate – Gilbert E. Sanders and his wife, Caroline Jukes Sanders.  A short time later, Phoebe went to live at Curracloe House, for the duration of the war.

War Service: According to his Attestation Papers, Archer served with the Calgary Rifles, prior to his enlistment on January 2, 1915. He was placed with the 50th Battalion, at which time he was given the rank of Lieutenant.  He was recorded as being 5 feet, 10 inches, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. Archer’s father, William, was next of kin; however, upon his marriage later in the year, Archer’s next of kin was changed to Phoebe. His religion was Church of England. On June 14, 1915, the Battalion was to prepare for overseas duty and the unit sailed on October 27, 1915.

Archer’s file contains no further detail until March,16, 1916 at which time he is Taken on Strength with the 31st Battalion, part of the 2nd Canadian Division, 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade. He maintained his officer’s status as Lieutenant. Three days later, he sailed for Boulogne, France, and joined his new unit in the field on March 20th. Just over two weeks later, on April 7, Archer was wounded while in battle and was treated at the 12th Casualty Clearing Station for shrapnel in his right shoulder. His wound was considered “slight” and, in later medical reports, it is stated that the shrapnel had not been removed as it was not located in an area where harm could occur.

On April 29th, Archer was transferred to No. 5 Division Rest Station for suspected bronchitis. This diagnosis was later struck off his medical record. He returned to his unit on May 17th and was then granted 8 days leave on May 20th.

On July 19th, Archer took on a new role when he was attached to the Canadian Corps School of the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade in France. Specific duties were not identified; however, on December 31st, he was appointed to the Brigade’s Headquarters Office.

It is several months before any further entry. On June 25, 1917, Archer was granted 10 days leave and returned to the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade on July 6th. Then, on September 4th, he was made Temporary Captain of the 9th Battalion and his record indicates this was announced in the London Gazette. The reference number was 30455 (this author could not locate the announcement).

Then, on January 7, 1918, he was awarded the Military Cross, as Lieutenant with the 31st Canadian Infantry Battalion. This was announced in the Supplement to the London Gazette, January 1918, page 23. It states only his rank, name and Infantry. His file gives the London Gazette reference number: 30450. There is no information given as to why Archer received this honour.

At this same time, Archer was transferred from France to England and, on February 1, 1918, he reported for duty at the Canadian Training School in Bexhill, near Bramshott and was “on command” to the school on February 5, 1918, at which time he received Instructor’s pay as a Captain.

On January 4, 1919, Archer returned to Canada on the Tunisian, arriving in the port of St. John, New Brunswick. On January 28th, shortly after his return to Calgary, he began receiving treatment at Ogden Military Hospital, for neuritis in his right shoulder, caused by the gunshot wound and shrapnel. It was first noticed in December of 1917. He was also being treated for a goiter that was first noticed in January of 1918. Archer was in hospital until March 19th, 1919.

Archer’s “Certificate of Service”, issued by Ottawa, deemed him medically unfit to serve. The following is the list of his service, while he was with the “31st Reserve Battalion”, not all of which is identified in his file:

  • Attached to the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade, Headquarters
  • Alberta Regiment Depot
  • Canadian Training School at Bexhill
  • 3rd Reserve Battalion Headquarters Overseas Military Force of Canada

Lieutenant Archer John Toole served with distinction in Canada (6 months), England (18  months) and France (24 months). He was discharged March 28, 1919.

Life after the War: Following the war, Archer and Phoebe returned to Calgary where Archer resumed his position as Broker, with Toole Peet and Company Ltd.,  In the 1921 Census, he and Phoebe are living at #714 32nd Ave. West. Archer continues to work as a financial agent/Broker, and later became president of the company in 1952. Archer and Phoebe are also in the 1926 Canadian Prairies Census, living in the Elbow Park area of Calgary. In 1927 their son, William John Toole, was born. He was the only surviving child of three known children: William, Patricia and an unnamed infant. In 1973, William took over as president of this highly successful company. Over 40 years later, in 2017, with two Toole descendants as Managing Directors, Toole Peet Insurance continued to be one of Calgary’s top insurance companies. It was the recipient of the Consumers Choice Award in that same year.

Throughout the remainder of his life, Archer was active within his community and held memberships in several organizations and associations, including the Calgary and District Beekeepers Association; Elbow Park Residents’ Association; the Ranchmen’s Club; and the Canadian Legion. He and Phoebe are recorded in at least four Voters’ Lists: 1935, 1940, 1957, and 1962.

Death and Burial:  Archer John Toole, MC, died in Calgary on September 19, 1963, He is buried in Burnsland Cemetery, Section H, Block 20. Phoebe, who died in 1980, is buried with him. Two of his brothers,  David Frederick Jack Toole and Edward Thomas Toole were killed in action. “Jack” is buried in Ontario Cemetery, Sains-les-Marquion, Nord, France, Grave Reference: I. D. 4. Edward’s name is etched on the Vimy Ridge Memorial. Both received the Military Cross. The fourth brother who enlisted, Laurence, decided to return to Ireland following the war where he lived out his life in his home in Wexford.

By Susan (Hillman) Brazeau


  • Birth, Marriage and Death records
  • Ireland, England and Canadian Census 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911, 1916, 1921
  • Canadian Voters’ Lists
  • Du Rivigny’s United Kingdom Roll of Honor 1914-1918

Glenbow Archives:https: //

Kenora Daily Miner and News articles

Library and Archives Canada:

  • Personnel Records;
  • Canadian Census 1916, 1921;, 1926
  • Honours and Awards Citation Cards. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

London Gazette, Supplement, 1914-1918: Rolls and Awards, January 1918  p.23

 Toole, Laurence, Edward Toole, and David Toole: Personal Stories by Susan Hillman Brazeau

 Toole Peet Company:

« Back To Soldier Biographies