‘We will remember them’

·3 min read

Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald

For the past three years on Remembrance Day, Margaret Davidson’s front lawn has become both a tribute and a history lesson.

The 82-year-old Lethbridge resident honours her family and friends who served annually by placing crosses adorning their names in front of her home.

Completing the Remembrance Day tribute is a wreath placed in the middle of the crosses, two Canadian flags and a sign declaring “We will remember them.”

Though some of the names on the crosses in front on her home may not be blood relatives, they might as well be.

“Those are all veterans who have served,” said Davidson. “There are two that are in the front row, Mary McNab and Dora Hoad. They aren’t blood relatives, but they’re family. Dora was in the Second World War, but Mary was the sister I never had.”

Among the blood relatives is Davidson’s brother, Robert Duncan, in addition to numerous uncles and aunts who also served over the years.

“My brother is right in the middle (of the crosses). He spent 27 and a half years in the air force,” said Davidson. “My brother went right out of high school in 1960 and he got out in 1987.”

However, the oldest name on the cross comes from another century and took a little bit of research to locate.

That is Thomas Tobin, who was born in India in 1823.

A genealogist, Davidson was corresponding with a woman in England who made her aware of Tobin. “I recognized the name because his great mother-in-law and my great-great grandmother were sisters,” said Davidson. “He was part of the Regimental Canadian Rifles. The family over there said he was in that service, but they couldn't find anything about him. So I went on the internet and searched Regimental Canadian Rifles. There was 26 microfilms, one for each letter of the alphabet. That came up and I wrote down the microfilm and sent it to this lady in Peterborough, England, and she took it from there.”

Tobin passed away Jan. 31 1887, in Salford, Lancashire, England.

But 123 years later, Davidson remains in contact with members of his family.

“I’m still in correspondence with a Tobin in Scotland,” she said. “He's a policeman in Aberdeen.”

Davidson got to know Hoad after she returned from the Second World War.

“I was probably five or six,” she said. “She went to my uncle’s on the homestead (as a farmer’s helper) and stayed there until 1978 when she decided it was time to retire. She retired in Lethbridge.”

With the help of Glenn Miller of the Lethbridge Legion, General Stewart Branch #4, Davidson’s front yard display has drawn approval in her neighbourhood.

“I’ve had a lot of compliments from a lot of people and Glenn has been a big help. I was out repairing one (Tuesday),” said Davidson. On Wednesday morning at the Cenotaph at city hall, Davidson took in the socially distanced Remembrance Day ceremony from the comfort of her vehicle.

“Veterans are very important to me,” she said. “They came to me last Thursday at the raising of the Poppy Flag and asked me if I was going to be at the Cenotaph and I said I would be. I’m picking up lady that’s 90 years old because she wants to go.”

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Dale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald