Thursday 15 August 2019

Frederick Bertram Bagshaw (1878 - 1966) - British-born Canadian writer, lawyer, politician and soldier

With thanks to Paul Breeze for this post

Merseyside-born Canadian lawyer, writer, politician and soldier Frederick Bertram Bagshaw was born on 15th August 1878 in Southport, Lancashire (Merseyside) to parents John and Mary Elizabeth Bagshaw, and was christened at Holy Trinity Church, Southport on 16th November 1878.

We don’t know what happened to his family but Frederick spent all of his childhood living at the children’s home at Edgeworth near Bolton and is listed on Census records as living there in 1881 (aged 2) and 1891 (aged 12). He appears to have crossed the Atlantic several times, probably due to his contacts at the Edgeworth Home, where the emphasis was on teaching the children useful skills and trades, then helping them find jobs and new lives in the developing countries of the British Empire.

In 1901, Frederick was living as a boarder in the house of Francis J. Bell in Macdonald, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba (Manitoba Census 1901) and from there somehow ended up in Regina, Saskatchewan as a barrister with the firm Anderson, Bagshaw, McNiven & Fraser, Barristers and Solicitors, located in the McCallum-Hill Building, Regina - as listed in the 1914 edition of “Who’s Who in Canada” (International Press Limited, 1914).

Frederick was already a member of the 16th Light Horse Militia Regiment before the war.  When war broke out, the 16th Light Horse travelled to Camp Valcartier in Quebec, where Frederick was posted into the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 18th September 1914, now a member of the “Fighting Fifth” Battalion.   At the time of his enlistment, he gave his next of kin as Nellie Smith, Aunt, of Littlebourne Road, Southport, England.  Frederick served in France and Belgium and was wounded twice.

In 1915, he collaborated with two other Canadian soldiers and put together a publication called “A Christmas Garland From the Front – Fifth Battalion, First Canadian BEF, France and Belgium” published by G. Pulman & Sons, London.  This was a 96-page book of stories, poems and cartoons – initially published anonymously  - by members of the 5th Battalion that was sent home to family and friends as a type of Christmas and New Year’s greeting

Frederick wrote articles about the actions of the battalion over the course of the year and also included many of his own photos of people and places.

Another Regina man – William Maunsell Scanlan, who had been City Editor of the Regina Morning Leader newspaper before the war - contributed poems and Robert McGavin Eassie from Ontario produced jokes and parodies of well-known rhymes.

In 1917, Frederick was one of three men voted by the Saskatchewan soldiers serving in Belgium to represent them in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly for a four-year term and he was allowed breaks from the Front to take up his seat.

After the war, Frederick became a prominent public figure in Saskatchewan.  From 1941 to 1945, he was enforcement counsel for the Wartime Prices and Trade Board. 

Frederick also worked with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Great War Veterans' Association. He was named to the Regina Library Board in 1941 and served for 21 years. He was a Police Magistrate from 1952 until 1958, when he retired.   Frederick was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE), and Bagshaw Place in Regina and a lake in northern Saskatchewan were named in his honour. Frederick Bertram Bagshaw died on 19th June 1966.

With thanks to Will Chabun for his help with this biography.  Long-time Regina journalist Will Chabun is a member of the Board of Directors of the Saskatchewan War Memorial.

Researched and written by Paul Breeze.