Wednesday, November 6, 2013

30 Days of Rememberance - Day 9 - Edgar Edward Irwin

Book of Remembrance (A record of the men of Port Hope who participated in the Great War of 1914-1918) by James A. Elliott, Chairman of Committee, Port Hope, Jan 1, 1919 (Transcribed by Peter Bolton 2001)

In memory of
Edgar Edward Irwin
who died on November 6, 1917 

Military Service:

Service Number: 805085
Age: 21
Force: Army
Unit: Canadian Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regiment)
Division: 21st Bn.

Additional Information:

Date and Place of Birth: August 12, 1896 Port Hope, Ontario, Canada
Date and Place of Enlistment: January 10, 1916 Port Hope, Ontario, Canada
Son of James Irwin of Port Hope, Ontario.
Grave Reference: I. C. 46.
Commemorated on Page 261 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.

Edgar Edward Irwin had me chasing around in circles for while. According to his attestation papers, Edgar  Irwin was born in Port Hope ON, in Aug of 1896, the son of Mrs. James Irwin. He joined the Canadian Forces in November of 1915 and was assigned to the 21st Battalion.

  A quick look at pointed me to a tree that looked promising- parents were listed as James and Katherine Irwin, son Edward Edgar born Aug 12, 1896. This tree led me to the 1901 and 1911 census records which seemed to fit but there were a couple of discrepancies. Edgar's year of birth on both census was listed as 1897 but as previously mentioned that's not an uncommon issue. The other more curious thing was that the tree contained 2 siblings, an older sister Olive and a younger brother Delbert but the sister was not on either census. I took a closer look at the sister first and found her birth registration; she was born November 7 1895 in Collingwood, parents James Irwin and Catherine Wilson. Which made it much more likely that Edgar's birthdate was Aug 12 1897. I searched the Ontario Birth Registry  for him using every possible method and wildcard but came up dry. I went back to look at Olive Irwin and began to suspect that the tree was in error and someone had mistakenly combined 2 families of different James and Katherine Irwin. I moved onto brother Delbert Irwin and here I found another the piece of the puzzle, a Declaration in the Matter of Registering a Birth which has not been registered in accordance with Sections 15 and 18, The Vital Statistics Act. It states that Delbert James Irwin was born Oct 17, 1899  in Port Hope Ontario, to parents James Irwin and Catherine Sherwin and it was sworn by Catherine on Nov 20 1919!
From this I can only speculate that the birth of neither brother was registered at the time they were born. What makes this more interesting and relevant becomes apparent when looking at Delbert Irwin's attestation papers. A month after his brother Edgar, Delbert also signed up but at the time he was only 16! However he adjusted his year of birth to 1897 to make it appear he was 18. Since Edgar was actually born in 1897 (and they weren't twins), I suspect Edgar adjusted his year of birth to1896 to allow his brother to join up.

 Edgar Edward Irwin was killed at Passchendaele on Nov 6 1917.*  Delbert Irwin survived the war.

*Note- Edgar Irwin was one of 871 reported deaths of Canadian soldiers in a single day, from Nov 6 to Nov 7 1917.
Edgar E. IRWIN
Welcome United Church, Hope Twp - now Northumberland Cty Cemetery
Durham Co./Reg./Dist., Ontario

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