This is the Allan "Cottage" in Cacouna. It is where the family spent the hot summer months away from Montreal. I would guess that as the men left for war, that the Allans had their last summer here. It was the last summer that they would ever have together as a family.
The big plan that they hatched was to go to England to support the troops. Lady Allan planned to set up a hospital and her eldest daughter Martha was to train as a nurse and then buy her own ambulence and go to France!
Hugh was at Eton and was as yet too young to join up but I imagine that he would have been here with his sisters for the summer. Term would start next week, so by August 25th, he must have been on his way back to Europe ahead of the troops.
He would leave Eton in 1915 and join the Canadian Black Watch. He then joined the Royal Naval Air Squadron as a pilot. He was killed in action on his first mission in July 6, 1917.
For the 4 Allan children this would have been a magic place. Here they are on the front step in 1901.
Martha is on the far left, then Hugh and then Anna and finally Gwendolyn.
It all must have been so exciting. Again, thank goodness, we cannot see the future.
Also on board a ship, this time returning to Canada, was a 41 year old doctor who was also an artilleryman who had served as a gunner in the Boer War. There he had seen the need for better medical care. From the ship, he sent a telegram offering his services which were of course accepted. (Source)
He sailed for Canada in the `Calgarian’ on August 28th, having received a cablegram from Colonel Morrison, that he had been provisionally appointed surgeon to the 1st Brigade Artillery. The night he arrived in Montreal I dined with him at the University Club, and he was aglow with enthusiasm over this new adventure. He remained in Montreal for a few days, and on September 9th, joined the unit to which he was attached as medical officer. Before leaving Montreal he wrote to his sister Geills:
“Out on the awful old trail again! And with very mixed feelings, but some determination. I am off to Val-cartier to-night. I was really afraid to go home, for I feared it would only be harrowing for Mater, and I think she agrees. We can hope for happier times. Everyone most kind and helpful: my going does not seem to surprise anyone. I know you will understand it is hard to go home, and perhaps easier for us all that I do not. I am in good hope of coming back soon and safely: that, I am glad to say, is in other and better hands than ours.”
This time he joined not as a gunner but as the Brigade Surgeon with the rank of Major. Meeting him at Valcartier was a horse called Bonfire that had been provided for him by Dr Todd a colleague and a good friend. Bonfire would accompany his master at his funeral in January 1918.
Addendum - here is Bonfire
John McCrae was the author of In Flanders Fields. Here he is in his new uniform in 1914.
Just before he left, he wrote this to a friend. I think that it must say what so many were feeling.
It is a terrible state of affairs, and I am going because I think every bachelor, especially if he has experience of war, ought to go. I am really rather afraid, but more afraid to stay at home with my conscience. (Prescott. In Flanders Fields: The Story of John McCrae, p. 77)
He would leave the Artillery in May 1915 when the Number 3 Canadian (McGill) General Hospital arrived from Montreal. It was made up of staff from the two main hospitals the General and the Royal Victoria. Here is a summary:
"Further proof of McGill's effectiveness in the war effort was the extraordinary contribution of the Faculty of Medicine. Dean H.S. Birkett, a peacetime officer of the Canadian Army Medical Corps, proposed that McGill should raise, equip and staff a complete field hospital. Made up of medicine graduates, students and nurses from the Montreal General and Royal Victoria Hospitals, the No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (commonly known as the "McGill Hospital") opened in France in the fall of 1915.
Located a few miles from the front, it was a self-contained city of tents that had been donated by an Indian prince. Inside, the hospital housed 1,500 beds, about four times the capacity of the Montreal General at the time. Between 1915 and the end of the war, over 100,000 patients were treated and 11,000 surgical procedures performed. Even more impressive is the fact that, despite the outbreak of influenza and frequent German air raids toward the war's end, the McGill Hospital held its mortality rate down to less than one per cent. Word of the success reached the front lines. As the McGill News reported in 1920, soldiers told each other: "If you get wounded, try to be marked for the McGill Hospital." (source)