Remember when: The mystery of the dog tags in the trunk

Part II

Lyndsey Carmichael
For the Lakeside Leader

Part I ended with the archivist having finally discovered the connection between the name on the dog tags in the trunk with the Hall family of Slave Lake.

Oh boy she was excited! She knew she was on the right track, but what else could she find that might aid in her search or answer all of her questions?

Only minutes passed before two more birth certificates were found. The first was for Elizabeth Jane Robinson. Her father was John and he was a lead miner, her mother was Elizabeth nee Milner and she was born in December of 1865 in Weardale Stanhope, England.

Aha! She had found Private Robinson’s sister! But why were these things in the Hall family’s box of photos and documents? And who was Miss F. E. Reynolds of Hensall, Ontario who had been listed as Private Robinson’s Next of Kin?


Maybe the next birth certificate had the answer? It was from Lanchester Consett, England for a baby girl named Elizabeth, born December 1st, 1900. Her father was Joseph Hall and he was a Greengrocer, her mother was Elizabeth Jane, nee ROBINSON!

Insert happy dance!

This was the birth certificate of Joseph Rennie Hall Jr’s little sister Elizabeth, better known around Sawridge and Slave Lake as Lizzie.

Nothing more was found about anyone with the last name Reynolds. So, ready with more than she ever expected to find, our archivist Googled the ribbon she found.

No information of value came up so she called the Royal Museum of Ontario for assistance and sent photos to their World Culture Department. This is the part that is to be continued another day. Next up was

The Archivist entered all the information she had just collected and right away more information about Thomas Gleason Robinson showed up. The very first thing on the list was a marriage certificate for Thomas Gleason Robinson and a Miss Francis Elizabeth Reynolds of Hensall, Ontario. He was 42 and she was 38 and they married on December 26th, 1914 in the St. Paul’s church in Hensall, Ontario.

The next piece of information that came up was an 1881 Census in England. It shows that at some point Thomas’s mother, Elizabeth, had been widowed and left with four children ages nine to 17. She remarried a man named Nicholas Potts. Nicholas had two sons and together he and Elizabeth had two more. Mr. Potts was an Iron Foreman.

Next was Imperial Yeomanry Records. In these records it showed that Mr. Robinson served in The Second Boer War (11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, or South African War. His eyes were grey and his hair was brown.

Next, the archivist found records that showed enlistment papers for Thomas Robinson in World War I. On November 10th of 1914, he was 42 years and 10 months old and considered “fit for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force.” Although this time his hair matched his eyes and he had a scar on his left leg from a bullet wound. He had been admitted to hospital a few times. One time while he was on leave from France, it was documented that he had shortness of breath and was diagnosed with bronchitis, an infection that would trouble him on and off for several years. By June 18th 1918, having served in both England and France at the age of 46 and now deemed to be physically unfit, Private Robinson was discharged. It was also noted that his character and conduct were “Very Good”.

Lastly, a date of death was on January 15th 1943 Mr. Thomas Gleason Robinson passed away in Edmonton, Alberta at the age of 71.

Are you still with us? Wow, what a discovery! So Thomas Gleason Robinson was the brother of Elizabeth Hall, who settled in Sawridge with her Husband Joseph Hall and their four children (Herb, Joe, Rennie & Lizzie) in 1912.

We may never know how the dog tags ended up in Slave Lake, but the archivist assumes that the dog tags were given to Rennie or Lizzie sometime after Thomas passed away in 1943.

We know we still have some questions, such as, what does the blue ribbon mean? But now we know who T.G. Robinson was.

Here’s to you…..

Mrs. Frances Elizabeth Robinson (nee Reynolds), whose photo came up in the search for Private T.G. Robinson.
The headstone of Thomas G. Robinson, in the Edmonton Municipal Cemetery.

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