Francis Pegahmagabow
Overview
 
Francis Pegahmagabow MM
Military Medal
The Military Medal was a military decoration awarded to personnel of the British Army and other services, and formerly also to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for bravery in battle on land....

 & Two Bars
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

, (March 9, 1891 – August 5, 1952) was the First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

 soldier most highly decorated for bravery in Canadian military history
Military history of Canada
The military history of Canada comprises hundreds of years of armed actions in the territory encompassing modern Canada, and the role of the Canadian military in conflicts and peacekeeping worldwide. For thousands of years, the area that would become Canada was the site of sporadic intertribal wars...

 and the most effective sniper
Sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

 of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Three times awarded the Military Medal and seriously wounded, he was an expert marksman
Marksman
A marksman is a person who is skilled in precision, or a sharpshooter shooting, using projectile weapons, such as with a rifle but most commonly with a sniper rifle, to shoot at long range targets...

 and scout
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

, credited with killing 378 Germans and capturing 300 more. Later in life, he served as chief and a councilor for the Wasauksing First Nation
Wasauksing First Nation
Wasauksing First Nation is an Ojibwa, Odawa and Pottawatomi First Nation located near Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada....

, and as an activist and leader in several First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

 organizations.
Encyclopedia
Francis Pegahmagabow MM
Military Medal
The Military Medal was a military decoration awarded to personnel of the British Army and other services, and formerly also to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for bravery in battle on land....

 & Two Bars
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

, (March 9, 1891 – August 5, 1952) was the First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

 soldier most highly decorated for bravery in Canadian military history
Military history of Canada
The military history of Canada comprises hundreds of years of armed actions in the territory encompassing modern Canada, and the role of the Canadian military in conflicts and peacekeeping worldwide. For thousands of years, the area that would become Canada was the site of sporadic intertribal wars...

 and the most effective sniper
Sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

 of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Three times awarded the Military Medal and seriously wounded, he was an expert marksman
Marksman
A marksman is a person who is skilled in precision, or a sharpshooter shooting, using projectile weapons, such as with a rifle but most commonly with a sniper rifle, to shoot at long range targets...

 and scout
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

, credited with killing 378 Germans and capturing 300 more. Later in life, he served as chief and a councilor for the Wasauksing First Nation
Wasauksing First Nation
Wasauksing First Nation is an Ojibwa, Odawa and Pottawatomi First Nation located near Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada....

, and as an activist and leader in several First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

 organizations. He corresponded with and met other noted aboriginal figures including Fred Loft
Fred Loft
Frederick Ogilvie Loft was a Mohawk nation activist who founded the League of Indians of Canada.He has been counted among "the great Indian activists of the first half of the twentieth century."He was also a World War I veteran and active in encouraging recruitment...

, Jules Sioui, Andrew Paull and John Tootoosis
John Tootoosis
John Tootoosis was a prominent Cree First Nations leader in Canada. He is the grandson of Yellow Mud Blanket, and grandnephew of legendary Cree leader Pitikwahanapiwiyin....

.

Early life

Francis Pegahmagabow was born on what is now the Shawanaga First Nation reserve. His father was Michael Pegahmagabow of the Parry Island First Nation and his mother Mary Contin of the Henvey Inlet First Nation, located further up the Georgian Bay's north shore. An Ojibwa
Ojibwa
The Ojibwe or Chippewa are among the largest groups of Native Americans–First Nations north of Mexico. They are divided between Canada and the United States. In Canada, they are the third-largest population among First Nations, surpassed only by Cree and Inuit...

 he grew up at the Parry Island (Wasauksing) Band
Wasauksing First Nation
Wasauksing First Nation is an Ojibwa, Odawa and Pottawatomi First Nation located near Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada....

, near Parry Sound
Parry Sound, Ontario
Parry Sound is a town in Central Ontario, Canada, located on Parry Sound on the eastern shore of Georgian Bay. Parry Sound is located south of Sudbury and north of Toronto. It is the seat of Parry Sound District, a popular cottage country region for Southern Ontario residents. It is also the...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

. Prior to the war, Pegahmagabow worked as a marine fireman for the Department of Marine and Fisheries on the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

.

Military career

Following the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Pegahmagabow volunteered for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force
Canadian Expeditionary Force
The Canadian Expeditionary Force was the designation of the field force created by Canada for service overseas in the First World War. Units of the C.E.F. were divided into field formation in France, where they were organized first into separate divisions and later joined together into a single...

 in August 1914 and was posted to the 23rd Canadian Regiment (Northern Pioneers)
23rd Field Regiment, RCA
The 23rd Field Regiment , RCA, was part of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division of the 2nd Canadian Corps, of the 1st Canadian Army in World War II.-Formation:...

. After joining the Canadian force he was based at CFB Valcartier
CFB Valcartier
Canadian Forces Base Valcartier is a Canadian Forces Base located in the municipality of Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, approximately north of Quebec City...

. While there he decorated his army tent with traditional symbols including a deer, the symbol of his clan. In February, 1915, he was deployed overseas with the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion
1st Canadian Battalion (Ontario Regiment), CEF
The 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion was a battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force that saw service in the First World War.The battalion was created on 2 September 1914 with recruits from "Military District 1" which was Western Ontario. The battalion set off for England on board the Laurentic...

 of the 1st Canadian Division
1st Canadian Division
Formed in August 1914, the 1st Canadian Division was a formation of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The division was initially made up from provisional battalions that were named after their province of origin but these titles were dropped before the division arrived in Britain on October 14,...

—the first contingent of Canadian troops sent to fight in Europe.

Shortly after his arrival on the continent, Pegahmagabow saw action during the Second Battle of Ypres
Second Battle of Ypres
The Second Battle of Ypres was the first time Germany used poison gas on a large scale on the Western Front in the First World War and the first time a former colonial force pushed back a major European power on European soil, which occurred in the battle of St...

, where the Germans
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 used chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 gas for the first time on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

, and it was during this battle that he began to establish a reputation as a sniper and scout. Later, his battalion took part in the Battle of the Somme
Battle of the Somme (1916)
The Battle of the Somme , also known as the Somme Offensive, took place during the First World War between 1 July and 14 November 1916 in the Somme department of France, on both banks of the river of the same name...

 and it was during this battle that Pegahmagabow was wounded in the left leg. He recovered in time, however, to return to the 1st Battalion as they moved to Belgium. Over the course of these two battles which spanned almost a year, Pegahmagabow carried messages along the lines, and it was for these efforts that he received the Military Medal
Military Medal
The Military Medal was a military decoration awarded to personnel of the British Army and other services, and formerly also to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for bravery in battle on land....

. Initially, his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Albert Creighton, had nominated him from the Distinguished Conduct Medal
Distinguished Conduct Medal
The Distinguished Conduct Medal was an extremely high level award for bravery. It was a second level military decoration awarded to other ranks of the British Army and formerly also to non-commissioned personnel of other Commonwealth countries.The medal was instituted in 1854, during the Crimean...

, citing the disregard he showed for danger and his "faithfulness to duty", however, it was later downgraded.

On November 6/7, 1917, Pegahmagabow earned a bar
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

 to his Military Medal for his actions in the Second Battle of Passchendaele. During the fighting there Pegahmagabow's battalion was given the task of launching an attack at Passchendaele. By this time, he had been promoted to the rank of corporal
Corporal
Corporal is a rank in use in some form by most militaries and by some police forces or other uniformed organizations. It is usually equivalent to NATO Rank Code OR-4....

 and during the battle he was recorded playing an important role as a link between the units on the 1st Battalion's flank. When the battalion's reinforcements became lost, Pegahmagabow was instrumental in guiding them to where they needed to go and ensuring that they reached their allocated spot in the line.

Later in the war, on August 30, 1918, during the Battle of the Scarpe
Hundred Days Offensive
The Hundred Days Offensive was the final period of the First World War, during which the Allies launched a series of offensives against the Central Powers on the Western Front from 8 August to 11 November 1918, beginning with the Battle of Amiens. The offensive forced the German armies to retreat...

, Pegahmagabow was involved in fighting off a German attack at Orix Trench, near Upton Wood. His company was almost out of ammunition and in danger of being surrounded. In an effort to prevent a disaster he took it upon himself to bring up the necessary supplies. Braving heavy machine gun and rifle fire he went out into no-man's land and brought back enough ammunition to enable his post to carry on and assist in repulsing heavy enemy counter-attacks. For these efforts he received a second bar to his Military Medal, becoming one of only 39 Canadians to receive this honour.

In November 1918, the war came to an end and in 1919 Pegahmagabow was invalided back to Canada. He had served in the military for almost the whole war, and had built up a reputation as a skilled marksman. Using the much maligned Ross rifle
Ross rifle
The Ross rifle was a straight-pull bolt-action 0.303 inch calibre rifle produced in Canada from 1903 until the middle of the First World War....

, he was credited with killing 378 Germans and capturing 300 more.

Awards

  1. He was first awarded the Military Medal while fighting at the second battle of Ypres, Festubert and Givenchy, for courage under fire in getting important messages through to the rear.
  2. Earned his first bar to the Military Medal at the bloody Battle of Passchendaele.
  3. His second bar to the Military Medal came at the battle of The Scarpe, in 1918. Only 38 other Canadian men received the honour of two bars.


In 2003 the Pegahmagabow donated his medals, and chief head dress to the Canadian War Museum where they can be seen as of 2010 as part of the World War I display.

Controversy

While writing his 2005 novel Three Day Road
Three Day Road
Three Day Road is the first novel from Canadian writer Joseph Boyden. Joseph’s maternal grandfather, as well as an uncle on his father’s side, served as soldiers during the First World War, and Boyden draws upon a wealth of family narratives...

, Joseph Boyden
Joseph Boyden
Joseph Boyden is a Canadian novelist and short story writer. His first novel, Three Day Road won the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize...

 undertook a considerable amount of research on Pegahmagabow. When interviewed by Herb Wylie, Boyden was asked about why he thought that Pegahmagabow had not received a higher award like the Distinguished Conduct Medal or the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

. In response, Boyden speculated that it might have been due to Pegahmagabow being a First Nation soldier. He also stated that there may have been some jealousy on the part of some officers who he felt might have been suspicious of the number of Germans Pegahmagabow claimed to have shot because he did not use an observer while sniping.

Political life

Upon his return to Canada he continued to serve in the Algonquin Regiment militia as a non-permanent active member. Following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps, he was elected chief of the Parry Island Band from February 1921. Once in office he caused a schism in the band after he wrote a letter calling for certain individuals and those of mixed race to be expelled from the reserve. He was re-elected in 1924 and served until he was deposed via an internal power struggle in April 1925. Before the motion could go through, Pegahmagabow resigned. A decade later, he was appointed councillor from 1933 to 1936. In 1933 the Department of Indian Affairs (DIA)
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development is the department of the government of Canada with responsibility for policies relating to Aboriginal peoples...

 changed its policies and forbade First Nation chiefs from corresponding with the DIA. They directed that all correspondence, as of the spring of 1933, go through the Indian Agent
Indian Agent (Canada)
Indian Agent is the title of a position in Canada mandated by the Indian Act of that country. An Indian Agent was the chief administrator for Indian affairs in their respective districts, although the title now is largely in disuse in preference to Government Agent. The powers of the Indian...

. This gave huge power to the Agent, something that grated on Pegahmagabow, who did not get along with his Indian Agent, John Daly. First Nation members who served in the army during World War I were particularly active as political activists. They had travelled the world, earned the respect of the comrades in the trenches, and refused to be sidelined by the newly empowered Indian Agent. Historian Paul Williams termed these advocates as "returned soldier chiefs", and singled out a few, including Pegahmagabow, as being especially active. This caused intense disagreements with Daly and eventually led to Pegahmagabow being deposed as chief. Daly and other agents who came in contact with Pegahmagabow were incredibly frustrated by his attempts, in his words, to free his people from "white slavery." The Indian agents labelled him as a "mental case" and strived to sideline him and his supporters.

In addition to the power struggle between the Indian council and the DIA that Pegahmagabow took issue with, he was a constant agitator over the islands in Georgian Bay
Georgian Bay
Georgian Bay is a large bay of Lake Huron, located entirely within Ontario, Canada...

 of the Lake Huron
Lake Huron
Lake Huron is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. Hydrologically, it comprises the larger portion of Lake Michigan-Huron. It is bounded on the east by the Canadian province of Ontario and on the west by the state of Michigan in the United States...

. The Regional First Nation governments claimed the islands as their own and Pegahmagabow and other chiefs tried in vain to get recognition of their status.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 he worked as a guard at a munitions plant near Nobel, Ontario
Nobel, Ontario
Nobel is a village located on the shores of Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada. It is located in the Municipality of McDougall in the District of Parry Sound. The community is named after Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite....

 while being a Sergeant-Major in the local militia. In 1943, he became the Supreme Chief of The Native Independent Government, an early First Nations organization.

Family and legacy

A married father of six children, Francis Pegahmagabow died on the Parry Island reserve in 1952 at the age of 61. He is a member of the Indian Hall of Fame at the Woodland Centre in Brantford, Ontario
Brantford, Ontario
Brantford is a city located on the Grand River in Southern Ontario, Canada. While geographically surrounded by the County of Brant, the city is politically independent...

, Canada, and his memory is also commemorated on a plaque honouring him and his regiment on the Rotary and Algonquin Regiment Fitness Trail in Parry Sound. Most recently honoured by the Canadian Forces by naming the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group HQ Building at CFB Borden after him.

Fiction

Canadian novelist Joseph Boyden
Joseph Boyden
Joseph Boyden is a Canadian novelist and short story writer. His first novel, Three Day Road won the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize...

's 2005 novel Three Day Road
Three Day Road
Three Day Road is the first novel from Canadian writer Joseph Boyden. Joseph’s maternal grandfather, as well as an uncle on his father’s side, served as soldiers during the First World War, and Boyden draws upon a wealth of family narratives...

was inspired in part by Pegahmagabow. The novel's protagonist is a fictional character who, like Pegahmagabow, serves as a military sniper during World War I, although Pegahmagabow himself appears as a minor character as well.

See also

  • Tommy Prince
    Tommy Prince
    Thomas George "Tommy" Prince, MM was one of Canada's most decorated First Nations soldiers, serving in World War II and the Korean War.-Early life:...

     MM
    Military Medal
    The Military Medal was a military decoration awarded to personnel of the British Army and other services, and formerly also to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for bravery in battle on land....

     (October 25, 1915–November 25, 1977) was one of Canada
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

    's most decorated First Nations
    First Nations
    First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

     soldiers, serving in World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

     and the Korean War
    Korean War
    The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

    .

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK