I was reflecting over the weekend about the Vimy Ridge battle, and my own visit to Vimy and other Canadian war battlefields last year, and it brought to mind one of the wildest Winnipeg coincidences I can think of.
During World War I, in order to volunteer to go overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), you went down to the recruiting office here in Winnipeg, where someone had to witness the fact that your were signing up of your own free will; most of the time, that witness was just someone who happened to be in the office.
My grandfather Gene Parker went down to sign up in 1916, just shy of his 17th birthday, and that random stranger in the office who put pen to paper to witness my grandfather’s attestation was one A.P. Crossin, who was 22 at the time. They were complete strangers, and although both ended up training on Salisbury Plain in southwest England in preparation for the trip over to France and the front lines, the war ended before either made it.
Roughly 40 years after signing up, Albert “Bert” Porteous Crossin’s daughter Diana would meet Gene’s son Murray while the two were attending Glenlawn Collegiate. My parents would be married in 1959, and at some point between their children meeting and that wedding, Gene Parker and Bert Crossin would themselves meet for what they thought was the first time.
They never knew otherwise, because both passed before my brother’s keen eye noticed the second signature on the document just a few years ago.
Is it the ultimate, “Winnipeg-degrees of separation” – story?