Veteran Stories:
Oswald Purkis

Civilian

  • This document allowed Oswald Purkis to leave Canada on June 12, 1917 for business purposes during the First World War. Courtesy of Oswald Purkis' son Frank.

    This document allowed Oswald Purkis to leave Canada on June 12, 1917 for business purposes during the First World War. Courtesy of Oswald Purkis' son Frank.
  • Mr. Purkis' Application for Exemption from Military Service. Mr. Purkis had polio as a child so he could not enlist. During WWI, he ran a business renting flags and banners to families who wanted to welcome home returning soldiers.

    Mr. Purkis' Application for Exemption from Military Service. Mr. Purkis had polio as a child so he could not enlist. During WWI, he ran a business renting flags and banners to families who wanted to welcome home returning soldiers.
  • During WWI, the Toronto Daily Star started the Tobacco Fund where people on the homefront could purchase cigarettes to be sent to overseas soldiers. This article described Mr. Purkis' experience with this programme. November 27, 1915.

    During WWI, the Toronto Daily Star started the Tobacco Fund where people on the homefront could purchase cigarrettes to be sent to overseas soldiers. This article described Mr. Purkis' experience with this programme. November 27, 1915.
  • Corporal Hugh Stewart of the 3rd Canadian Field Ambulance overseas sent Mr. Purkis this thank you letter on November 5, 1915 after receiving his donated cigarettes from the Tobacco Fund.

    Corporal Hugh Stewart of the 3rd Canadian Field Ambulance overseas sent Mr. Purkis this thank you letter on November 5, 1915 after receiving his donated cigarettes from the Tobacco Fund.
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Transcript

My father's name was Oswald Purkis. He was born and raised in Toronto. Unfortunately at the age of three he had polio, which left him partially crippled in one leg, so that as he walked he dragged his one foot.

He grew up and went through public school as far as grade eight, but got no further. One of his school chums and a chum that he hung around with was a William Wright. They did many things together, and were in Rochester when World War One was declared. Returning home and a year or so later, William Wright enlisted in the Army, and my father, because of his handicap, was denied serving overseas, which he was quite thankful for I think because so many fellows lost their lives.

Also because of his handicap and his polio, which carried on for all his life because these diseases do afflict you for many years, he tried to figure out some of the things he could do and one that was passed down in the family history was when the newspapers would list the casualties and the homecoming of wounded soldiers, he and his father would send out postcards to those particular families advertising a banner of welcome home, and a multitude of flags of different sizes that could be put up around the home to welcome the individual home. He carried on this business for quite a few years through the war, and then of course when the war ended, that was the end of that activity.

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