The O'Leary Collection—Medals of The Royal Canadian Regiment

3234 Corpl. (A/Sergt.) John William Cockburn

"…a prince of good fellows and …
every inch a soldier."

Canadian Infantry School Corps
Yukon Field Force
The Royal Canadian Regiment

By: Capt (ret'd) Michael M. O'Leary, CD, The RCR

In every generation of a regiment there are those soldiers whose activities and level of recognition in the community, both military and local civilian, make them larger than life. They are soldiers who positively influence those around them, whose interactions inside and beyond their regiment create and strengthen connections within the community, who create positive rapport with other units, and who become admirable examples of professional and personal conduct.

John Cockburn was one of those soldiers.

Some of those iconic soldiers never fade away. They enjoy a regimental life long after they hang up their service uniforms. Never merely resting on their laurels, they live on as icons of regimental service, always living up to the reputations they so honorably built in service. Others, sadly, die before their time, leaving a legacy which should be, but isn't always, remembered and honoured.

John Cockburn was one of the latter.

Sadly, even those "larger than life" regimental personalities disappear into the past when we, individually and collectively, fail to record and share their stories. Except for one plaque on the wall of the regimental museum, easily overlooked and often simply part of the background even to frequent visitors, John Cockburn's story was all but forgotten. Discovering and acquiring Cockburn's long service medal set me on the path of bringing Cockburn's story back to the Regiment. With the inscription on his medal, details recorded in a regimental enlistment ledger, and those on the plaque, I had enough to start newspaper archive searches. Within a few days I had collected over one hundred mentions of Cockburn spanning over a decade, and my understanding of his story grew. Following Cockburn's story through his service in The Royal Canadian Regiment is a worthy examination of regimental life in many of its facets.

John William Cockburn

John William Cockburn was born in Toronto, Ontario, during October 1867. Cockburn's family, led by parents Franklin (38) and Rebecca (31), can be found in the 1871 Canadian Census of St. David's Ward. The family is shown in 1871 with four children; Maria (8), Anne Louise (4), John (2), and George A. (5 mos.). Ten years later, in 1881, although there are not unexpected differences in the recording of details, the Cockburns have eight children; Maria (19), Annie L. (14), John W. (13), George Al. (10), Robert H. (8), Frank J. (6), Rebecca R. (3), and Thomas W. (3 mos.).

After having served for a few years in the Canadian Militia with the Queen's Own Rifles, John Cockburn decided to enlist in the Permanent Force and chose to do so not in his home town, but in London, Ontario. He enrolled with "D" Company of the Infantry School Corps at London, Ont., on 14 Sep 1889. At 21 years 11 months of age, he gave his trade as hatter. Wolseley Barracks in London would be Cockburn's regimental home station throughout his military career. During his service, Cockburn would see his regiment change names four times. These changes would be to the Canadian Regiment of Infantry (1892), The Royal Regiment of Canadian Infantry (1893), The Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry (1899), and The Royal Canadian Regiment (1901).

We find Cockburn's first appearance in The London Advertiser on 28 Aug 1893 was in a brief note that ties together his presence at the barracks and the enduring role of sports in the military garrisons of the day. Titled "Presentation at the Barracks," the brief note described the presentation of "a gold watch-chain and an address" by friends to Mr. J. Holland on his departure from the barracks. The address "expressed deep regret at his departure and more specially from the cricket club, to which he had lent such valuable aid." The address was signed by three members of "D" Company on behalf of the cricket team: George Evans, captain, Bernard J. Dunlevy, secretary, and J. William Cockburn, manager.

The following spring, on 10 May 1894, The London Advertiser announced that "Corp. Cockburn will act as drum-major when the Seventh [7th Battalion "Fusiliers"] play the Alert Baseball Club through the streets on Monday next. "Co" is now taking a course in physical culture and sewing buttons on his best tunic." Cockburn would become well-known in London for his many appearances as the Fusiliers' drum-major as well as performing that duty for other military bands on occasion. He would reprise his role a few weeks later on 2 June 1894 leading a parade of 5000 London schoolchildren to Queen's Park for the "Hoisting of the Flag" and sports. The bands of the "the Cavalry" [the 1st Hussars] and the Seventh Fusiliers participated, the latter led by "Corporal Cockburn, of Wolseley Barracks, as drum major."

The local papers also followed the social life of the city's citizens, including those living at the Barracks. The 7 Nov 1894 issue of The London Advertiser noted that "Mr. Robert Cockburn, of Toronto, is in the city on a week's visit with his brother, Corp. John Cockburn, of Wolseley Barracks."

On 26 Feb 1895, The London Advertiser reported on the unfortunate death of 34-year-old Corporal Robert Hueston, a past member of the company at the Barracks, who had been dragged and nearly cut in two by a passing train in London. Earlier that day, Hueston had been at the Barracks asking Canteen Sergeant Cockburn to stand up with him at his wedding in April. Cockburn had first treated the query as joke, replying, "Go away, you are only fooling." Hueston convinced his friend that he was quite serious and went on his way, meeting his untimely end later that day. The inquest into the death in following days left more questions than answers about the nature of the death, not least of which was the man's missing watch, ring, and money.

The sporting season for 1895 started early for those of the garrison who were the organizers of teams. The London Advertiser, on 28 Mar 1895, ran a short item titled "Baseball" in which it reported the plans to form "A Military Club": "No. 1 Company, Royal Regiment of Canadian Infantry, Baseball Club has been organized for the season of 1895 and the following officers elected: Honorary president, Capt. T.D.R. Hemming, R.C.R.; secretary, Sergt. B. Dunlevy; committee, Lance-Corporal Pinel, Lance-Corporal Cockburn and Private W Gibbs."

Military duties, however, were always the first priority of the garrison. The London Advertiser on 6 Jul 1895 described the clearing and closing of the annual Militia camp conducted at Wolseley Barracks on Carling Heights. Over 1600 Militia troops had attended the training and as they marched out it was the men of No. 1 Company that were left to tear down the camp. The final notes on the camp included: "The band of the Twenty-first [Regiment] were photographed. Corp. John Cockburn (No. 1 Company) who acted as drum major for the band, was presented with a photograph in a beautiful frame."

Not long after the completion of the Militia Camp for 1895, Wolseley Barracks had a tragedy within its ranks. The London Advertiser issue of 11 Jul 1895 reported that at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday 11 Jul 1895, "D" Company at Wolseley Barracks suffered the loss by suicide of Private Francis O'Brien. Forty-six years old, an ex-British Army pensioner, unmarried and seeing himself without prospects, O'Brien took his own life with his rifle. The shot was fired in the rooms over the Sergeants' canteen in the north end of the east wing of Wolseley Barracks. The paper noted that "Corporal John Cockburn, who was near the entrance, began to investigate. On entering the building he detected the smell of burned powder. No sign of fire could be seen on the ground floor, and he went upstairs. The fumes of powder were still stronger there. The library and an adjoining room were open, and in the former private Travers was sitting reading a newspaper. He had heard the report, and informed Cockburn that he thought it was in the next room, but he had not endeavored to find out. Cockburn tried the lecture room door, and finding it unlocked, but securely fastened, and smoke issuing through the keyhole, he informed Col. Smith. The door was forced open and a fearful sight met the gaze of the men." The further details of poor O'Brien's decline to tragedy and death need not be related here, but the description of Cockburn's immediate actions help to show his overt levels of responsibility and diligence as an NCO.

Heading into the summer of 1895, Cockburn was soon busy with his duties as the manager of the Wolseley Barracks baseball team. On 26 Aug 1895, The London Advertiser reported "Baseball; Soldiers Win. … The Wolseley Barracks baseball nine has played eleven games this season, winning ten and losing only one—to the cigar-makers. Manager Cockburn considers his team the best of the city amateurs, and is open for challenges."

The following month, Cockburn enjoyed another visit from his brother, Mr. Robert Cockburn of Toronto. No sooner had that visit ended than The London Advertiser on 27 Sep 1895 was announcing that the "City Barrack Breezes"; "Baseball Team Maps Out Next Season's Work" — "A meeting of the baseball club was held the other afternoon, when the season's matches were discussed and next year's campaign was mapped out. If only Corp. Cockburn continues manager of the team the success of the club is more than guaranteed for next year." This was followed a few weeks later by the plan to photograph the team when the 15 Oct 1895 Advertiser declared "From Wolseley Barracks"; "Corporal Jack Cockburn's crack baseball players will be photographed. The nine won twelve games and only lost one during the season, and that to the cigar-makers, when Catcher Pinel was laid up with a broken thumb." Cockburn was taking, by all estimates, a key role in the team's successes through the season.

At the end of October, the 31 Oct 1895 edition of The London Advertiser shared news that demonstrated that Cockburn's role within the community went beyond his military service, drum-major and sports. He was also an active member of the fraternal organization, the Ancient Order of Foresters. "The twenty-third anniversary of the institution of Court Forest City, No. 5744, Ancient Order of Foresters, was celebrated in Foresters' Hall, East London last night, by an old time oyster supper and concert. … The toasts of "The Queen," "The Army and Navy," "Subsidiary High Court of Canada," "The Sister Courts," "The Robin Hood Drill Corps," "The Juveniles," and "Companions of the Forest," were loyally drank, and responses were given by Corp. Cockburn and Pte. O'Connell, of Wolseley Barracks, John Ford, William Loughrey, Dr, P.B. Wood, John Brown and Walter Richards."

As busy as Cockburn was in so many areas of his life, he was obviously not neglecting the performance of his military duties. On 8 Feb 1896, the local paper shared the news of promotions at Wolseley Barracks, including "Lance Corporal Cockburn to be full corporal."

A month after his promotion, Cockburn was seeking a change. The London Advertiser of 7 Mar 1896 carried two items naming Cockburn:

The smoking concert was a great success, and it's description in the paper provides an excellent view of the level of entertainment that the garrison non-commissioned officers, reinforced by N.C.O.'s at the garrison on short courses and the garrison band, could put on. From the 19 Mar 1896 issue of the Advertiser:

"Soldiers Make Merry
"Smoking Concert and Supper of the Non-Coms. at Wolseley Barracks — A Good Time Spent by Many Invited Guests.

"The non-commissioned officers' mess and recreation rooms at Wolseley Barracks were the scene of a great gathering last night, the occasion being a smoking concert and oyster supper under the auspices of the sergeants' mess of No. 1 Company, R.C.R.I. A large number of civilians were present to partake of the hospitality for which the men of the barracks are noted. The handsome suite of rooms, under the management of Corp. Pinel and the arrangement committee, were used for the concert, and during the evening the guests adjourned to the lecture room, where the supper had been provided by the canteen caterer, Corp. Jack Cockburn. The fact that a large number of persons accepted the invitations of the committee testifies to the thorough manner in which visitors are entertained at the school. Among the guests were Sergt.-Majors Dingley and Cummings, of Toronto, and Phillips, of St. Johns; Sergt. Magwood, of St. Johns, and a number of residents of the city, including Drs. J., F. and P. Wood, and Ald. Carrothers and Ald. O'Meara.

"The chair was occupied by Quarter-master-Sergeant Kennedy,who extended a cordial welcome to the guests and introduced the programme, which included several selections by the band, which has been augmented by several short course men. Corp. James, Corp. Duncan, Sergt. Thompson, Pte. Ross, Mr. Cushing, Pte. Clayton, Dr. Jeff Wood, Pte. Turk, Mr. Boney Steele and Mr. W. Thorne also contributed to the evening's enjoyment with a number of songs, recitations, banjo selections, dances, etc. Several speeches were made by the guests, complimenting the non-coms upon the success which attended their smoking concert."

On 30 Mar 1896 it was announced that Cockburn was going to be even more involved in sports for the year. He was elected as the second vice-president for the 1896 season of the City Baseball League. Cockburn went the first few weeks of April contemplating his new duties from the comforts of a hospital bed. On 2 Apr 1896, the Advertiser reported: "Corporal Cockburn, of Wolseley Barracks, had his right shoulder and elbow dislocated in his fall at the corner of Dundas and Richmond streets yesterday afternoon. He is progressing favorably, but some time will elapse before he will be fully recovered." The paper provided an update on 18 Apr 1896: "Corporal Cockburn, who met with an accident a week or two ago, is progressing favourably towards recovery, and his exit from hospital is daily expected."

Cockburn's appointment as league vice-president did, however get him excused from his managerial duties with the Barracks team. The London Advertiser on 23 Apr 1896 described the organization of the Barracks team: "No. 1 Company, Royal Canadian Regiment, Baseball Club has organized for the season. The following officers were elected: Lieut.Col Smith, D.A.G., honorary president; Capt. Hemming, president; Major Denison, vice-president; Lieut. Carpenter, Vice-president; Sergt. Dunlevy, secretary and treasurer; Pte. Hall, captain; Corp. Pinel, Pte. T. Hawthorne and Bugler Beales, committee. The club will greatly miss the services of Corp. Cockburn as manager this season, as his other duties will take up his time during the coming summer. The club will be a great deal stronger this season than they were last. Games can be arranged for any day during the week except Saturdays."

The barracks baseball team soon kicked off its 1896 season with a victory over the "Silver Leafs" on their home field. The 12 Jun 1896 Advertiser, under the title "Baseball at the Barracks" described an easy win for the soldiers. Cockburn was there for the game, in a new role: "Corporal Cockburn acted as umpire, and got a couple of ugly hits from the ball as a reward for his impartiality."

On 20 Jun 1896, The London Advertiser reprinted a short piece published first by the Mail-Empire of Toronto, Cockburn's home town. Demonstrating the close community of London and the editor's awareness that society news linked to notable citizens would be appreciated by the readership, the item described the wedding of Cockburn's sister, Annie Louise, to a Mr. William L. Cope. "Of note to the London audience was the information that "The house [where the ceremony took place] was beautifully decorated with flowers and smilax, which were furnished by J. Gammage & Sons, London, Ont." Possibly contracted by Cockburn himself, Gammage's flowers was a few blocks from the barracks and their advertisements appeared in regimental journals for many years.

September 1896 was a busy month for Cockburn, with The London Advertiser, in its edition of 14 Sep 1896 reporting on his role in apprehending a thief in the Barracks:

"Bold Barracks Burglar.

"Pte. Chas, Donohue's love for liquor has led him astray, and confined him behind the bars, having been charged with a serious' crime. The canteen was the scene of operation, and this is the third time it has been robbed, and the thief was allowed to go free, because no evidence was obtained against him, Pte. Donohue was suspected of the last robbery, but the charge could not be proven against him.

"At 8 o'clock yesterday morning, Corp. Jack Cockburn left the canteen, and failed to lock the door after him: As he walked out he noticed Donohue enter, but thought nothing of it. On returning to the canteen, Cockburn caught "Donohue going away with the contents of the cash-bag, containing about $1l, and had him placed under arrest, When confronted with the charge, Donohue admitted his guilt, and was escorted to the cells to await a trial by court martial."

A few days later, on 16 Sep 1896, the Advertiser covered the Militia guard of honour assembled to greet Lord and Lady Aberdeen, the Governor-General and his wife, on their visit to London. Cockburn was acting as drum-major of the 21st Regiment's band:

"Guards of Honor
"One Hundred Volunteers Chosen from Each Battalion

"One of the finest guards of honor that ever turned out of a London camp left the field to meet the Governor-General at the depot last night. They were one hundred of the cream of the Twenty-first Battalion and their officers may well feel proud of their successful efforts perfecting the training of men, They were a handsome sight, as they marched of, to the music of their band, headed by Brigade Drum-Major Corp. Cockburn. The guard was under the commend of Capt. Reeves, Lieut, A. N. Bartlett and Lieut. Mooney.

"The guard of honor chosen from the Oxford Rifles will be in command of Capt. Morton, Lieut. Blackwell, and Lieut. W.S. McKay.

"The guard of honor chosen from the Thirtieth Wellington Rifles is probably the heaviest body of men on the camp grounds. There were fifteen men picked from the ten companies, making 150, and these were culled, but it was a hard matter to decide who to discard. This able-bodied brigade is commanded by Capt. Craig, of Fergus; Lieut. McLaren, of Guelph, and Second Lieut. Dodd, of Asther."

On Monday 2 Feb 1897, ex-Sergeant Thomas Kinchella, late of Wolseley Barracks, died at his home on Maitland St., London. Two days later the funeral took place, the funeral party including six soldiers from the barracks as pall-bearers: Sergt. Conroy, Sergt. Cranston, Corp. Cockburn, Corp. Davis, Lance-Corp. Smith and Pte. Donohough. Kinchella's widow, Maud, was left with three small children to fend for herself after his death.

The Advertiser was also quick to announce changes to uniforms at the barracks, and to invoke the names of well-known members of the garrison to make their point. The 23 Mar 1897 issue of the paper announced: "The men at Wolseley Barracks are waiting for fine weather to display their natty new uniforms, just arrived from England. The jackets are of the usual brilliant scarlet, and the best serge—the same as is worn by the regular army. The men are much pleased with the new headgear, though loath to part with the time-honored Scotch caps, the tails of which have streamed on many a battlefield. … Corp. Cockburn was around town today sporting his new Easter bonnet." This change marked the end of the glengarry as part of regimental dress, replaced by the field service cap, a "wedge cap" in modern terms.

In mid-April, 1897, Cockburn was called to Toronto with the news that his sister, Annie Louise (Mrs. W.L. Cope), was dangerously ill. Annie would survive her illness and live for many years after.

Cockburn was back in London well before the end of April. On 26 Apr 1897, the Advertiser printed a scathing letter he wrote to the Sporting Editor over another team's (the Pastimes) denial of an arranged game with the Barracks' team. Cockburn had personally arranged the game with the other team's manager and they did not show. Cockburn challenged the Pastimes' lack of courage to meet them, even though the military team had waited for their opponents over an hour past the agreed upon time. In lieu of the promised game, the barracks team arranged a scratch match to give the gathered spectators something to watch. His letter was signed off with "J.W. Cockburn, Manager Wolseley Barracks B.B.C. London, April 26."

On 20 May 1897, the Advertiser announced an upcoming away game for the baseball team the following day. Not only would the team by playing baseball, but they would also act as a military demonstration team:

"The Barracks Nine
"Will Play Ball and Assist at a Concert in Point Edward.
"Baseball. &#ndash; A Versatile Aggregation.

"The Wolseley Barracks nine will proceed to Point Edward on Friday, to give battle to the home team. The barracks team will be composed as follows: Sergt. Dunlevy, l.f.; Corp. Finch. 2b.; Corp. McRury, r.f.; Bugler Beales, s.s.; Pte. Hall, c.f.; Pte. Hawthorne, 3b.; Pte. Leach, c.; Pte. Wanless, 1b.; Ptes. Gibbs and Cook, p. Corp. Cockburn, manager, will accompany the team. In the evening, under the direction of Color-Sergt. Cooper, R.R.C.I., the team will assist at a concert and give an exhibition of the new bayonet exercise, and also go through the physical drill."

The following week, on 26 May 1897, Cockburn placed a notice in the Advertiser offering a challenge to any team willing to meet the Barracks squad the following Saturday.

Wolseley Barracks not only dominated the baseball diamond, but was also able to assemble competitive teams for tug-of-war. On 3 Jul 1897, The London Advertiser reported: "The barracks square was the scene of a tug-of-war between teams representing Wolseley Barracks and the Twenty-eighth Battalion. The former was captained by Corp. Cockburn, and the latter by Color-Sergt. Duncan, Sergt. Beaumont, R.R.C.I., acting as referee. The contest resulted in favor of the barracks boys, who drew their opponents over the scratch in two consecutive pulls in short order. The R.R.C.I. team were smaller men, but they were all there."

A few weeks later another challenger met the soldiers on the square, with a very different result. Noted in the Advertiser on 21 Jul 1897; "The tug-of-war contest between a team from Wolseley Barracks and a picked team from Elgin and Middlesex was won easily by the latter in two straight pulls, The defeat of the soldiers was not to be wondered at as their team was probably 500 pounds lighter than the others, five of their best men being absent. It took 55 seconds for the first pull and only 5 seconds for the second, The following composed the teams: Wolseley Barracks—Corp. Cockburn, captain; Sergt. Dunlevy, Corp, Millie, Ptes. Webb, Moore, Horsepool, Kennedy. Hennesy and Yeo. Middlesex and Elgin—G. Moorehead, captain; A. Mahon, G. Groen, J. MacArthur, A. Campbell, Angus Reidy, Norman Monro, M. Dulavin and Neil Monro."

During November, 1897, the society pages of the local paper informs us that Cockburn entertained another visit from his brother Mr. Robert Cockburn, of Toronto. Curiously, at first impression, Cockburn drops out of the local news until January 1900. The notice published in the Advertiser on 12 Jan 1900 both information from a letter written by Cockburn and lets us know where he has been: "Corp. John W. Cockburn, formerly of Wolseley Barracks, now with the Yukon force, writing to a friend in the city, says the members of the force are unhappy because of their inability to go to the Travsvaal. Although isolated to some extent, yet news from the front is eagerly watched for and anxiously scanned, he says."

Between 1898 and 1900, the Mounted Police in the Yukon were reinforced by a body of 200 regular soldiers drawn from the Permanent Corps. Of this number, two thirds of the men were from the garrison of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Infantry. Among them was Cockburn. On 23 Jul 1900, The London Advertiser reported on some of the returned Yukon men: "Today Ptes. Fred Taylor, Ben Kennedy and Sidney Webb, of the returned Klondike force, and W. Horspoole and M. Lynch completed their three years' course at Wolseley Barracks. They will leave shortly for their homes, much to the regret of their comrades in arms, with whom they were very popular. It is said Corp. Jack Cockburn, one of the returned Klondikers, will be reappointed canteen steward, a position which he filed very creditably before leaving for the north. He is a favorite with all the boys."

A few days later, on 27 Jul 1900, the paper noted that Cockburn was off for a week's visit to his parents in Toronto. His appointment as canteen steward would be confirmed on his return.

As the regimental journals twenty years later would refer to such occasions, Cockburn joined the "Benedicts" in February, 1901. The nickname stood for his betrayal of his fellow bachelor soldiers and abandoning them at the barracks as he left their single life for marriage. At the age of 27, Cockburn's bride to be was Maud May Leathorn, she was a 28-year-old spinster living at her parents' home at 673 King St., London, Ont.

On 28 Feb 1901, The London Advertiser announced the happy couple's betrothal:


"Miss Maud May Leathorn and Mr. John W. Cockburn, of the Wolseley Barracks' permanent force, were wedded last night [27 Feb 1901] at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Denny, No. 610 Dundas street. Only the relatives and a few intimate friends of the contracting parties were present at the ceremony, which was solemnized by Rev. T.S. Johnson, pastor of the Adelaide Street Baptist Church. The bride, handsomely gowned, entered a room that was beautifully adorned with flowers and British flags. She leaned upon the arm of her brother-in-law, Mr. Denny, who gave her away. The wedding march was played by Miss Jennie Leathorn. Miss Ada Leathorn assisted her sister as bridesmaid, and the duties of best man were performed by the groom's brother, Mr. Robt. Cockburn, of Toronto. The bridal party having partaken of a dainty wedding luncheon, extended their best wishes to the a couple, who left subsequently for their new home on Oxford street. Mr. and Mrs. Cockburn are very popular among many friends, and received numerous evidences of the sincerity of this friendship, The sergeants of the mess at Wolseley Barracks sent a handsome marble clock, the single non-commissioned officers a couch, and a handsome silver tea service from the members of the Seventh Regimental Band, of which Sergt. Cockburn is drum-major. Several out-of-town guests were present at the marriage, among them being Mr. George Cockburn, the well-known Toronto elocutionist."

On 3 Mar 1901, The London Advertiser carried a brief note on the annual meeting ofn the Barracks' sports club. The meeting included the election of officers for the club and the appointment of committees for cricket, baseball, and football.

"The Barracks Club

"At the annual meeting of the Athletic Association of No. 1 Company, R.C.R.I., held on Monday evening, President Color-Sergt. D. Cranston, in the chair, the treasurer reported $39.50 cash on hand; assets, $60, and liabilities nil. The election of officers resulted as follows: Honorary president, Lieut.-Col. T.D.R. Hemming (re-elected); honorary vice-president, Major S.J.A. Denison; president, Color-Sergt. D. Cranston (re-elected); secretary, Pte. H.T.B. Millie (re-elected); treasurer, Color-Sergt. D. Cranston (re-elected), Committees: Cricket. Quartermaster-Sergt. Dunlevy, Corp. Evans, Lance-Corp. Burnand, Pte. Clarkson and Pte. Scanlon; baseball, Sergt. Cockburn, Pte, McFadden and Pte. Clarkson; football, Quartermaster-Sergt. Dunlevy, Sergt. Beales, Pte. Clarkson. The various committees decided to have the grounds placed in the best possible condition for the coming season. The cricket grounds will be speedily attended to, a new baseball diamond properly laid, and the football grounds laid out. The prospects are that the coming season will be the best in the history of this association."

Within two weeks after the re-organization of the sports committees for the year, Cockburn's name was back in the newspaper. Soldiers of the Permanent Force served on engagements of three years' duration, after each of with they needed to formally re-engage to continue serving. On 16 Mar 1901, the Advertiser identified a number of soldiers, including Cockburn, who were up for discharge on completion of their term of service, or re-engagement: "The term of service for the following members of No. 1 Company, R.C.R.I., expires next Monday: Drill Sergt. Blake-Foster; Sergt. Cockburn, Sergt. Beales, Corp. Evans, Lance-Corp. Hare, Pte. Faryon, Pte. Clarkson, Corp. Walsh, Lance-Corp. Taylor, Lance-Corp. Freeland, Pte. McIntyre and Pte, Philpot. All but the latter are expected to reenlist. They were members of the Yukon force."

On 3 Apr 1901, the Cockburns were recorded in the Canadian census for that year. Curiously, their ages were noted as 29 and 27, respectively. John Cockburn's trade was noted as military, and he was shown to have annual earnings of $600.

Cockburn was also soon re-engaged in his side job as drum-major. On 23 May 1901 he led the 7th Regiment Band and "received many compliments for the excellent manner in which he handled the band." The following month, on 13 June, he was at the head of the 26th Regiment's band for a march through the city by the Militia brigade training at Wolseley Barracks.

That fall, The London Advertiser, on 9 Oct 1901, reported on the 7th Regiment's excursion to Toronto for a royal review. Cockburn again was at the head of the regiment's band as they boarded the train in London:

"Regiment Off For Toronto
"Seventh Left for Queen City Via C.P.R. Last Night
"The Corps Paraded in Full Marching Order and Made a Very Smart Appearance.

"Never before has the 7th Regiment presented & smarter appearance than when it left the armories last night for the special C.P.R. train, which was to convey it to Toronto for the royal review, The regiment paraded nearly full strength, and, accompanied by its splendid band, under the direction of Mr. Hiscott, and headed by the stalwart drum-major, Sergt. Cockburn, marched by way of Central avenue and Richmond streets to the C.P.R. depot, where several thousand people had assembled to witness it entrain. The streets along the line of the short march were crowded with people, and many were the expressions of approval heard on every side as the stalwart men in red swung past to the enlivening strains of "The Girl I Left Behind Me." The men paraded in full marching order, with leggings, busbies and great coats fastened over their shoulders, The marching was admirable, the unbroken lines of each company making a very brave showing. As the special bearing the regiment pulled out of the depot, rousing cheers were given by the great crowd assembled.

"In addressing the men before they left the armories, Major Little, on behalf of Lieut.-Col. Smith, the commanding officer, reminded them that the regiment had a proud record throughout Canada and expressed the earnest hope that no individual member of it would by any irregularity while at Toronto tarnish this proud name."

On 18 Nov 1901, as reported the following day by The London Advertiser, Cockburn was among the guests from the Barracks who attended a "Sergeants' Smoker" given by the sergeants of the 7th Regiment. Conducted in their mess rooms on Richmond Street, the event consisted of an impromptu programme of toasts, songs and speeches.

Although the first contingent of Canadians to South Africa had gone in 1899 and returned home in 1900, soldiers across the country were still volunteering for later contingents. And in many communities, their departure precipitated ceremonial occasions. The London Advertiser issue of 13 Dec 1901 described one such event for men joining the Canadian Mounted Rifles, with Cockburn filling an important role at the send-off:

"London Soldiers Off For Halifax
"Forest City's Quota to Noble Six Hundred Given Rousing Send-Off.

"Shortly before 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon the 30 men who had taken the oath for service in South Africa left Wolseley Barracks in charge of Acting Sergt. Wade, late sergeant-major of the 22nd (Oxford) Rifles, and Acting Corp. Munro, The were accompanied by the 7th Band, and a great crowd of their friends. A well-fitted Intercolonial colonist car was in waiting at the G.T.R. station, under the charge of District Passenger Agent Dickson, of Toronto, who accompanies the soldiers on their journey to Halifax. Meals will be provided at Toronto and Montreal for the recruits.

"The men who went were a jolly crowd, and the send-off they received was a fitting one. Every member of the contingent had a host of friends and relatives at the depot. The Seventh played enlivening airs and shouted for all and for each. Sergt. Cockburn, the stalwart drum-major, Was instrumental in bringing many a loving mother or sweetheart through the dense crowd to bid good-bye to her boy or hero. The New York express arrived at 4:55, and the special car was immediately coupled on, and, while the crowd cheered, was pulled out of the station."

Later that month, on 26 Dec 1901, the Advertiser reported on "Christmas at the Barracks," noting Cockburn's role in catering for the men's mess:

"Non-Coms and Men of No. 1 Company, R.C.R., Enjoy Big Dinner.

"Christmas day as usual was thoroughly enjoyed at Wolseley Barracks. Dinner Was served at one o'clock and there was an abundance of good things. Orderly Room Clerk Sergeant A. Bethune presided, and Mrs. Doyle, Major S.J.A. Denison and Lieut. Young visited the mess as the men were at dinner. Lieut.-Col. Young in a short speech wished the men a merry Christmas and many happy returns, and hoped all would enjoy themselves. The colonel's health was proposed and drunk, and three cheers and a tiger given, Major Denison, Captain and Mrs. Nagle ware similarly treated, as were the health of Sergt. Major Munro and Color-Sergt. Cranston. It is a well-known fact that the men of Wolseley Barracks always have a good time at Christmas, and this year was no exception to the general rule. Sergt. Cockburn, who caters for the men's mess, was congratulated on the success of his efforts in providing the repasts, and Messrs. Clarkson and Falls did the necessary cooking in A1 style. The evening was spent quietly, most of the men visiting their friends in the city."

In January, 1902, The London Advertiser reported on the despatch of another local contingent for South Africa. Cockburn once again filled his role of drum-major. The 10 Jan 1902 article included: "On the departure of London's quota of volunteers for the Tenth Field Hospital for South Africa, … with No. 6 Bearer Company [Army Medical Corps], in uniform, formed a formidable guard of honor about the sleigh occupied by the volunteers, and in this order, headed by the band of the 7th Regiment, the triumphal march to the Grand Trunk Depot began. All the students wore the purple and black colors of the [Western Medical] college, and Sergt. Cockburn, drum-major of the 7th, proudly flourished the colors on his baton…."

The Advertiser, on 22 Jan 1902, offered a lengthy description of an annual ball held at the Barracks. Cockburn was one of the many members of the garrison who had a hand in its success:

"Soldiers Had a Merry Time
"Annual Ball of Non-Coms. and Men of No. 1 Co., R.C.R.I.
"Affair Was One of the Most Successful in the History of Wolseley Barracks.

"The non-commissioned officers and men of Wolseley Barracks provided a Very pleasant entertainment for their friends last night, the occasion being the annual ball. The affair has always been a most delightful one, and last night's event was no exception. Nearly 200 of the soldiers' friends "stepped it off," and the extent of their pleasure was best manifested by the many congratulations showered on the committees who made the event so successful.

"Precisely at 8:30 dancing began, and the "lights out" call was scarcely needed before the merry company retired, as daylight had almost dawned.

"Three large rooms at the barracks were chosen for the event, and under the careful supervision of Pte. Robinson were attractively decorated. As would be expected the decorations were symbolic of patriotism, The hallway banisters were draped in bunting, and the walls of each hall were entirely covered with bright colors. Queen Victoria's portrait and the present King's were draped with Union Jacks and Royal Standards, as were pictures of other members of the royal families and famous battle scenes.

"Attractive bits of decorative art were several stars formed of regulation bayonets at the east and west ends of the rooms.

"Imagination would have to soar high to construct a prettier picture than the one witnessed in the ballroom, Every man and officer was in full military dress. Red and blue predominated, and with the khaki—for some of Africa's veterans attended—the soft colors of the feminine attire, presented a scene of great and ever-changing beauty.

"Behind a screen of palms Cortese's orchestra played sweet music.

"The supper, which was laid in the large room upstairs, was all that could be desired. On a large stand in the center of the room were exhibited the Carling trophy and the Canadian Rifle League cup, won by the company several years ago.

"Color-Sergt. Cranston was chairman, and the committees which conducted the affair were the following:

"Music—Corp. O'Connell, Lance-Corp. Walsh.
"Refreshments—Quartermaster-Sergt. Dunlevy, Sergt. Blake-Foster, Sergt. Cockburn, Pte. Charman.
"Decorations—Corps. Strong, McIntyre, McMahen, and Ptes. Merrick, Downy, Robinson, Glenn.
"Col.-Sergts. Cranston, Cockburn and Ptes McMahen and Strong acted as floor managers.
"Mr. Samuel Taylor was master of ceremonies."

Victoria Day was celebrated in London with a military parade on Monday, 26 May 1902. With all the local units participating, Cockburn was once again filling his role with the Fusiliers as described by the Advertiser. "The Seventh Regiment marched next [after the Hussars] … receiving, of course, the heartiest applause. It is doubtful whether the regiment ever looked so smart or marched so well, and Lieut.-Col. Little and his officers have every reason to feel proud of their corps. The playing of the regimental band, under Band Master Hiscott, was praised on all sides. The band was headed by Drum-Major Sergt. Cockburn, resplendent in a new uniform and an enormous busby." Another article on the weekend's celebrations noted "Drum-Major Sergt. Cockburn was voted by the crowds the finest looking soldier on parade Saturday. His huge bearskin busbie towered high above everything else in the column. Sergt. Cockburn has become an essential part of the 7th Regiment's splendid band."

By July, 1902, the Barracks baseball team was back in action. Cockburn was again to be found behind home plate. The London Advertiser, 9 Jul 1902;

"Practice Game at Carling's Heights.

"A friendly game of practice baseball Was played at Carling's Heights last evening between two teams composed of part Carling B. and M. Company's team and Wolseley Barracks. The teams were so mixed that neither side could be called a true representative team. The soldiers had four outsiders, one of them being a B. and M. Company man, and the Carling B. and M. Company had four substitutes, some of their best players being absent. Score, 9—7 in favor of the Carling B. and M. Company, The batteries were: Carling's, McLaughlin and Buller; Barracks, McIntyre and Ardiel. Sergt. Cockburn was umpire. The Barracks team play the butchers this afternoon."

The results of the garrison team's game against the Butchers was covered by the paper the following day. The story also confirmed that Cockburn was fulfilling the dual roles of umpire and team manager:

"With the Amateurs.
"Soldiers Won.

"The Wolseley Barracks baseball team defeated the Butchers' nine on the Carling's Heights diamond last night. The umpire, Sergt. Cockburn, is also the manager of the Barracks team, which it is hinted, accounts for the soldiers' victory. The game was exciting and was greatly enjoyed by an enthusiastic crowd of spectators. The teams were as follows: Barracks —McIntyre, Dunlevy, E. Ardiel, Waud, A. Ardiel, McFadden, Evans, McLaughlin, Kelly. Butchers—Evans, Legg, Breen, C. Mitcheltree, Farnsworth, Kiser, J. R. Mitcheltree, Anderson, W. Mitcheltree. Batteries—Wand and McIntyre; Breen and Farnsworth. Umpire, Sergt. Cockburn. Scorer, H. T. Millie."

That fall saw a return to church parades with Cockburn leading the accompanying band. On 31 Oct 1902, The London Advertiser carried a note reading: "The St. Andrew's Highland Cadets will march to the First Presbyterian Church on Sunday morning to listen to a sermon by their chaplain, Rev. W.J. Clark. They will assemble at 10:15 am. The bugle band of the Seventh Regiment, with the kind permission of Lieut.-Col. Little and the officers of the Seventh, have volunteered to head the march. They will be led by Drum Major Sergt. Cockburn."

The 21 Jan 1903 edition of the Advertiser announced the annual ball to be held the following evening at Wolseley Barracks. Cockburn as the manager for the men's mess, once again found himself on the refreshments committee:

"Ball at the Barracks
"Annual Event of Dance Club Will Take Place Tomorrow Night.
"Soldier-Men Expect That It Will Be a Great Success.

"On parade were about 20 of the soldiers when an Advertiser man made a call at Wolesley Barracks this morning. All the men of No. 1 Company, R.C.R.I., are enjoying good health, and the only matter of general interest just now seems to be the annual ball, which is to be held tomorrow night.

"The event of the year with the Wolseley Barracks Dance Club is to take place tomorrow night, and in this all the men at the barracks are taking Much interest. As a result their annual ball promises to eclipse all its predecessors. From the replies received to their invitations it is expected that over a hundred couples will be present. Col.-Sergt. Cranston, president and secretary, is at the head of affairs and everything indicates that under his efficient management all details will be properly completed in good time. The committee who have charge of the music are Sergt. Beales and Pte. Kay. The committee on refreshments are Drill Sergt. Price, Sergt. Cockburn, Pte. Campbell and Bugler Prouse, while the decorations are under the supervision of Ptes. McIntyre, Merrix and Archer. The different committees have also had the able assistance of Drill Sergt. Blake Forster. Lance Corporal Strong is to be floor manager."

The summer of 1903 brought tragedy to the extended family of John Cockburn, and by extension to his military family at the Barracks. The 10 Aug 1903 issue of The London Advertiser repeated a notice published by The Toronto Globe announcing "the death on Saturday [8 Aug] of Franklin Benjamin, only child of William L. Cope and Louie Cockburn. The mother of the little lad is a sister of Sergt. Cockburn, No. 1 Company, R.C.R.I." Two days later, the Advertiser shared"

"Little Soldier Buried.

"Sergt. Cockburn, of No. 1 Company, R.C.R, has returned from Toronto, where he attended the funeral of his nephew, Frank Cope, the six-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Cope. The deceased was a bright little chap, and was taken off with brain fever and typhoid. He was known to his friends as "the little soldier," and will be remembered by many as having appeared in the Old Boys' in parade two years ago attired as a drum major and accompanied by his uncle, At the funeral held in Toronto there were relatives from London and other points in attendance, and the floral offerings were a tribute to the popularity of the little fellow. The last day that Frank was able to be out was at the close of the school for the summer, when he participated in the closing exercises. His mother is now on a visit to friends in this city."

Before the year was out, Cockburn had another worrying incident, this time involving his wife. The Advertiser reported on the event in its issue of 23 Nov 1903

"Trolleys Collide
"Two Belt Liners Come Together On Dundas Street.

"The trolley pole of a new belt line car left the wire Saturday night about 3 o'clock between Wellington and Waterloo, on Dundas street, and another belt line car following along in the darkness crashed into the rear of the one standing.

"Both cars were well loaded with passengers, and a stampede occurred, the excitement being greatest on the car with the lights out. Several persons were more or less injured, including several ladies. One of there was Mrs. Cockburn, wife of Sergeant Cockburn, of Wolseley Barracks. A lady whose name could not be learned had her face cut and was pretty badly bruised.

"The front platform of one car and the rear of the other, were damaged, and the windows suffered considerably."

On 19 Dec 1903, The London Advertiser printed a photo of the Wolseley Barracks indoor baseball team. With a caption reflecting on the previous year's success and the current season's prospects, the photo provides a glimpse of the year-round sports activities that the soldiers of the Barracks engaged in. The team, arranged on a set of stairs along the Wolseley Barracks parade square were all in the team jerseys, except Cockburn who remained in uniform.

Cockburn was present at a well attended and greatly enjoyed dinner of the sergeant-major and sergeants of the Seventh Regiment on 12 Feb 1904. During the dinner, he responded to the toast made to "The Band", in which he "made a neat reply, in which he stated that the band would always be at the service of the Seventh Regiment." Over the following weeks, Cockburn also attended dinners hosted by the companies of the 7th Regiment. On 17 Feb 1904, the Annual Dinner of Company "D" of the Seventh Regiment was held in the Knights of Pythias Hall. A few weeks later, on Wednesday, 2 Mar 1904, Cockburn attended the annual At Home hosted by "E" Company of the 7th Regiment. During the dinner a toast to "Our Guests" was proposed by Color-Sergt Treleaven, which was responded to on behalf of the guests by Sergt Cockburn, among others.

On 21 Mar 1904, The London Advertiser printed a brief note on the four men at the Barracks who remained on the strength of the company out of the 34 men who had gone to the Yukon in 1898. Accompanying the article were portrait photos of the four.

"Yukon Men are Thinning Out; Only Four of Them Now Remain

"Of the 34 non-commissioned officers and men who left Wolseley Barracks, six years ago, to do special service in the Yukon, only four remain now. They are: Sergt.-Instructor Blake-Forster, Sergt. Cockburn, Sergt. George Evans and Sergt. Beales.

"When the Yukon force was organized every member had to be sworn in anew for a period of three years, the object being to avoid the expiration of any terms shortly after the men would reach the far north, and the swearing in of new men or the re-enlisting of the old. The force, however, did not re- main in the Yukon for the full term of three years, returning at the end of two years and six months. A number of the men purchased their discharge immediately after returning to their depots. Others remained for the balance of their three years, and in one way and another the Yukon boys have gradually disappeared, until there are only the quartet left, That is, at Wolseley Barracks, as there are a number stationed at the other depots through Canada, while a few bought their discharges in The Klondike and stayed to dig for gold.

"The terms of Blake-Foster, Cockburn, Evans and Beales expired on Saturday last, and they have taken on the strength again for another period of three years. Of the four, Sergt. Evans is the senior in point of service, having served eighteen years. With another term to his credit, he will be entitled to a pension. Besides seeing service in the Yukon he served through the North- west rebellion in 1885 with the Toronto company of the permanent force. Sergt. Blake-Forster, who is acknowledged to be one of the best drill instructors in the Dominion, has served eleven years, including a short term in South Africa with the Mounted Rifles, while Sergt. Cockburn has seen fifteen years in the corps. Sergt. Beales is the youngest, of the party, having served only nine years."

Cockburn filled an important social role at the Barracks on the evening of 12 Apr 1904, as reported in the Advertiser the following day. The event was a gathering to say goodbye to and express good wishes to the wife of Private Alfred Charman, who was about to follow her husband from the London barracks to his new posting with the regimental company in Toronto. Charman had served in the Regiment since 1888 and had originally attested at Toronto. He and his wife, Annie (nee Rose) had been married in that city in March 1892. The Advertiser shared:

"Last evening the wives of the non-commissioned officers and men and their friends met in their recreation room at Wolseley Barracks to bid good-bye to Mrs. Alfred Charman and family, prior to their removal to Toronto, whither Pte. Charman was transferred last month. After the company, had partaken of a dainty spread, Quartermaster-Sergt. Dunlevy, on behalf of the married non-commissioned officers and men, read an to Mrs. Charman, and Mrs. Munro, wife of Sergt.-Major Munro, presented her with a lovely silver fruit basket, as a mark of esteem and friendship, and also as a memento of the many pleasant years spent in London. Sergt. Cockburn replied on behalf of Mrs. Charman, who was quite taken by surprise at the presentation. A pleasant evening was spent, songs and piano selections being contributed by the assembled guests."

On their 18 Apr 1904 Victoria Day outing, the Seventh Regiment conducted their first route march of the season. "There were two bands, including the buglers, and this made things lively. Sergeant Cockburn was in his usual place in front of the band and the latter, which was out almost at full strength, rendered some good music."

Later that summer, the 4 Aug 1904 issue of the Advertiser informed its readers that the Barracks baseball team was not having its best year. "The Wolseley Barracks nine was badly defeated on Carling's heights yesterday afternoon by the Scandrett nine, the score being 23 to 7. Batteries—Barracks, Fitzallen and Gilbert; Scandretts, Bartlett and Garside. Umpire, Sergt. Cockburn."

Tragedy once again struck the Barracks' extended family on Saturday 3 Sep 1904. The Advertiser of that date reported the death of Mrs. Sarah Jane Walliker, the wife of Sergeant Frederick Walliker. Walliker had served with the Regiment since December 1891 and the couple had been married at London on 15 Dec 1894. The funeral, held Monday 5 Sep 1894, was described in the pages of the Advertiser the next day:

"Funeral of Mrs. Walliker

"The funeral of Mrs. Sarah Walliker took place from Wolseley Barracks yesterday at 9 a.m. The pall-bearers were Quartermaster-Sergt. Dunlevy, Color-Sergt. Cranston, Sergt. Evans, Sergt. Farnsworth, Sergt. Cockburn and Sergt. Millie, High mass was celebrated at St. Peter's Cathedral and interment took place at the Roman Catholic Cemetery, The coffin was covered with flowers, Col. and Mrs. Young sent a lovely cross of white roses and violets. Major and Mrs. Carpenter, a wreath; Capt. Uniacke, a wreath; Capt. and Mrs. Kaye, a crown; the non-commissioned officers and men of No. 1 Company, a harp, with chords unstrung, and a "Gates Ajar"; and the married non-commissioned officers and men sent a pillow and wreath."

On 21 Feb 1905, The London Advertiser carried news of the annual ball at the Barracks. Two points stood out, the first that the ball was now being held in late February rather than in January and, second, that it would celebrate the fifth anniversary of the battle of Paardeberg. Cockburn was in his usual appointment on the refreshments committee:

The following week, on 28 Feb 1905, the Advertiser described the Paardeberg ball for its readership:

"Fifth Anniversary of Famous Battle with General Cronje
"Paardeberg Day Observed With a Gay Dance at Wolseley Barracks.

"Gay and brilliant was the scene in the big ballroom at Wolseley Barracks last evening on the occasion of that celebration of the fifth anniversary of the battle of Paardeberg. Red, white and blue bunting, British flags of all sizes, crossed bayonets, and other emblems of like character, made the interior of the room beautiful, and, in conjunction with the uniforms of the soldiers, cast a military glamor over all. At the ends of the room hung Pictures of the King and Queen.

"About 300 guests were present, a number being members of corps which served in the war, and all enjoyed themselves to the extreme. The arrangements for the affair were of the very best and the evening was a success in every way. The floor was good and the music provided by the Italian orchestra was just the kind that dancers love. Among the guests were representatives from Toronto and Guelph and Hamilton, the latter city being represented by Sergt. Rogers of the thirteenth regiment.

"The programme was printed on dainty cards, and each dance bore the name of some military event, officer or place connected with the South Africa campaign. An interesting souvenir, a piece of army hardtack, stamped with the words "Paardeberg, 1900-1905," was given to each guest. There were 31 numbers on the programme and after the sixteenth it was announced on the programme cards that "the column will halt for rations."

"The committees, who so successfully arranged the anniversary affair, were as follows: W.O. Munroe, chairman; Quartermaster-Sergeant Dunlevy, first vice-president; Quartermaster Sergeant Instructor Price, second vice-president. Decorating Committee—Sergeant Beales, Color-Sergeant Lane, Sergeant Higgins, Private Walliker. Refreshment Committee—Sergeant Cockburn, Corp. Ward. Lance-Corp. Campbell, Pte. Moule. Floor Committee Sergt. O'Connell, Sergeant Sharpe. Reception Committee—Quarter-Master Sergeant Dunlevy, Private Ralston, Quartermaster-Sergeant Instructor Price, Pte, Sands. Printing Committee — Color-Sergeant Cranston, Sergeant Cockburn, Pte. Lawrence, Treasurer—Color-Sergeant Cranston.

"Master of Ceremonies—Mr. Floyd.

"Following was the programme:

"Paardeberg Lancers, Modder River Waltz. De'Aar Two Step, Winburg Quadrille, Dornkop Three Step, Orange River Jersey, Belmont Cotillion, Bob's Waltz, Houtnek Trilby Two Step, Silverten Lancers, Dreifontein Floradors. Ram Dam Schottische, Vet River Quadrille, Diamond Hill Waltz, Belfast Two Step. Vaal Cotillion, French Waltz. Dorrien's Three Step, Heilbrun Lancers, Small Deal Jersey, Cape Town Schottische, Kitchener Quadrille, Grase Pan Aurora, Boksburg Waltz, Spring's Cotillion, Zanda Two Step, Klip River Floradora, Zand River Lancers, Pretoria Glide. Baden Powell Cotillion, Strathcona Waltz."

In April, 1905, Cockburn was once again elected as the manager of the Barracks' baseball team for the upcoming season. On 5 Apr 1905, the Advertiser reported: "Sergt. J. Cockburn has been unanimously elected manager of No. 1 Company, R.C.R., Baseball Club for the ensuring season. Sergt. Cockburn is an ardent lover of the game, and has always worked hard to make the club a success."

On 7 Apr 1905, "F" Company of the Fusiliers held a theatre party and annual dinner. While the Advertiser's description of the evening didn't specifically mention Cockburn's presence, he was featured in a number of lantern slides shown during the theatre show in the following day's paper:

"F" Company Has Theatre Party and Annual Dinner
"Soldiers of the Seventh Make Merry

"Company F, of the Seventh Regiment, Capt. William Spittal, held its annual dinner last evening, after attending the performance at the London Vaudeville Theater in a body, and the whole affair wax of a most enjoyable and successful nature. The theater, which was crowded to its doors, was appropriately decorated for the occasion, The galleries were draped with bunting and flags in profusion, while over the front of the boxes were hung Union Jacks and Stars and Stripes, side by side. The appearance of the American flag at a festivity held by a company of a Canadian Regiment was an innovation, but a very pleasing one. In addition to the regular performance, lantern slides of the following were thrown upon the screen and much appreciated by those present: The King, Lord Roberts, Lord Aylmer and Lord Dundonald, Col. Little, Major Cronyn, Sergt.-Major Munro (who has just retired after a long term of service in the R.C.R.), Sergt.-Major Milligan, Drum-Major Cockburn, Capt. Shittal, and others.

"After the performance, the company adjourned to the banquet-room of the Oriental Hotel, which was elaborately decorated with flags and flowers and enjoyed a splendid supper. An informal toast lint and musical programme were then introduced by Capt. Spittal who was in the chair. The toast of "The King" was first of all loyally honored with the singing of the National Anthem. Major Hayes and Capt. Campbell then ably handled the toast, "Canada" Many others spoke on other themes, and Professor Stevens and his orchestra rendered fine music throughout. Songs and recitations were contributed by members of the company and the gathering did not break up until a late hour."

A few weeks later, on 22 Apr 1905, The London Advertiser ran a brief item identifying Cockburn as the manager of the barracks' football team, a role in which he showed as much capability as he had with baseball:

"Barracks Shut Out Thistles
"Soldiers Win at Association Football — Game Played in Drizzling Rain

The Wolseley Barracks and Thistle football clubs met yesterday morning for the first time this season for a friendly game of Association Football. … The score was 7 goals to 1 in favor of the Wolseley Barracks team. … Sergt. Cockburn, who is manager of the barracks football club, was highly pleased, this being the fourth successive win, with no games lost."

The summer of 1905 brought tragedy to the Barracks once again, this time it was the death of one of the company's soldiers. On the evening of Friday, 7 Jul 1905, Private Harry Morrison Wood was the lone fatality in the collision of two London streetcars. Another nine civilians were also injured to varying degrees. Wood, 22 years of age, had only attested to serve with the Regiment a few months earlier on 25 Apr 1905. The next day's paper detailed the accident and casualties, and informed the public that a coroner's inquest had been convened.

The 10 Jul 1905 edition of The London Advertiser gave a detailed description of the military funeral conducted for Private Wood. Cockburn fulfilled his duties as drum-major

"Military Funeral of Harry M. Wood
"Thousands of Citizens Witness the Impressive Spectacle—Last Sad Rites.

"A large and most impressive military funeral was accorded the late Private Harry M. Wood yesterday afternoon. Thousands of citizes lined the streets, the solemnity of the occasion impressing all. The slow, measured tread of the soldiers, and the solemn music, all contributed to the imposing and memrable spectacle. After the accident, by which the late H.M. Wood lost his life, the remains were taken to Smith, Sons & Clarke's undertaking parlors on Dundas street. The dead soldier was dressed in his uniform, and his helmet and side arms were on the coffin, which was covered by the Union Jack.

"The soldiers formed up at the undertaking parlor, and the firing party men, under Sergt. Good, with arms reversed, began the march to the Armories. Then followed the gun carriage bearing the remains, with the pallbearers, Corp. Campbell, Corp. Gilbert, Pte. Keating, Pte. Treuseh, Pte. Love and Pte. Camp marching beside it. The Seventh Band, with, muffled drums, followed, playing "Last Honors." Drum-Major Cockburn, with baton draped, and sash covered black. followed. The pipe hand of the Highland Cadets came next, with the sergeants of the Seventh Regiment, No. 1 Company, R.C.R., under command of Major Carpenter, and the Sixth Field Battery, under Capt. Cameron, with Major Mills and Lieut. Charles Hunt on parade, following.

"The line of march was down Dundas street to the Armories. The body was borne on the shoulders of his comrades into the Armories, and Rev. Dr. Daniel read the burial service. The firing party were drawn up, and fired three volleys, the buglers sounded first, second and last post, and "Lights out." The procession reformed and marched up Dundas, and down Richmond to the Grand Trunk station, Corp Campbell took charge of the remains, and left on No. 5 for Sarnia last night, going to Mooretown with the body this morning.

"The officers from the Barracks present were Lieut.-Col. McDougall, Major Carpenter, Capt. Smith, Lieut. Gibson, and Lieut, Macbeth.

"The floral tributes were magnificent, among them being a pillow from Lieut.-Col. McDougall and officers of No. 1 Company. R.C.R.; "Gates Ajar," sergeants of. No. 1 Company; an Anchor, from employees of officer mess; a broken wheel and wreath from No. 1 Company. R.C.R.; a pillow with regrets from London street railway, and a cross and spray from friends."

On 11 Jul 1905, The London Advertiser covered the inquest into the death of Private Wood. Cockburn testified to performing the solemn duty of identifying the body after the accident.

A Military Day of public entertainment was hosted at Queen's park on London, Ontario, on Wednesday 9 Aug 1905. Featuring local Militia units, No. 1 Company, R.C.R., from the Barracks and others brought into the city for the day, a four-hour spectacle was provided. Cockburn was often front and centre in his role as drum-major for the band. The following is a full descriptive article detailing the scope of the day's events from The London Advertiser, 10 Aug 1905:

"Tommy Atkins is the Boy; Knows How to Entertain
"Trooped the Colors, Marched Past, and Participated in All Kinds of Sports Before Londoners.

"After all, Tommy Atkins is the boy who knows how to have a good time and to give others one, too. Yesterday afternoon he entertained thousands of citizens and London Old Boys at Queen's Park, and did it right royally.

"Military day is one of the many new features which the home guard framed up for the entertainment of the visitors, and that it was a success no one who attended could doubt.

"There was scarcely a vacant square foot in any of the three stands, of the ground space in front, when the Seventh were doing their maneuvers in the ring. The crowd liked the trooping of the colours so well they practically demanded "an encore," and it was decided to repeat the movement, giving it this time on the track immediately in front of the stands, instead of within the ring inclosure. The crowds cheered themselves hoarse as the crack regiment went through the graceful movement again.

"The bands are called upon to play a large part in the trooping of the colors, and they certainly did their work well yesterday, headed by their stalwart Drum-Major Cockburn, The several different tempos and styles of music which are required in the course of the movement were given with admirable effect.

"There is no regiment in Canada that can troop the colors better than the old Seventh.

"The March Past.

"The march past, too, was done magnificently. As had often been remarked, a sterling quality of the Seventh is the steadiness of the men in the ranks and while marching, and this is why the corps always does the march past successfully. It is a movement in which the turning of a head, the tilting of a bayonet, or the fact of one soldier being a little ahead of his line (or, worse still, out of step), will spoil the whole effect. Now, the Seventh knows these facts. Every individual member knows them, and takes care to do his duty when the regiment is on the march.

"No wonder, then, the crowd had reason to cheer when the Seventh, with stately step, filed past their honorary colonel and reviewing officer tor the day. Sir John Carling, all marching as one man.

"After going through the above-mentioned movements, the Seventh was marched into the south end of the ring inclosure, and there the boys divested themselves of their heavy busbies and heavier rifles. After all, it is no easy work to drill for three-quarters of an hour in the hot sun, bearing the weight of busbies, tunics, guns and sidearms, and the soldiers were glad to change the programme. Not that the boys regard drill as work. They enjoy every bit of it as much as the spectators — which is saying a great deal — and take a great pride in it. This is the spirit which Will make a corps successful.

"The Sports.

"However, it was a relief yesterday to lay aside the heavy accoutrements for a while, for the drill had been extra heavy. And now for the lighter part of the programme. A part of it was supplied by Mr. Ed I. Sifton, of this city, aided by two well-known old swordsmen and bayoneteers, namely. Sergt. Stewart, of the Forty-eighth Highlanders, and Sergt-Major Williams, of the Royal Engineers, Toronto, The latter is instructor in the big gymnasium of Toronto University, and. is acknowledged to be one of the most efficient on the continent. He had turned out many a champion swordsman, and it was at his hands that Mr. Sifton learned to use the foll so skillfully that no one could touch him during the two years in Toronto University. These three gave some of the most interesting contests that have ever been seen on the Queen's Park stage.

"The sports and contests given by the Seventh itself cannot be too much praised. Each was well put on and well contested. The officers worked like Trojans, and so did the non-coms, and so did the men.

"Well, the first number on the sports programme was a bayonet vs. bayonet contest between Sergts. Stewart and Williams, with Mr. Sifton refereeing. This contest was new to many of the crowd—as indeed were many of the events of the afternoon—and it came in for a large share of applause. Around and around the platform moved the two men, their heads protected by huge masks, and their chests by padded protectors. Now and then one would lunge quickly at the other, and then the latter had to defend himself or be "touched." How was it that the bayonets did not puncture the contestants? Indeed, when a hit was made it looked as if the weapon was going right through the man. The secret was this: The bayonets, besides being blunt, worked on a contrivance that allowed them to slip back into the gun when a hit was made, while as soon as the "point" of the Weapon was removed from the body of the opponent, a spring inside the gun caused the bayonet to spring out into its original position. The effect was very realistic. The men were well matched and Stewart won only by the score of 5 points to 4.

"Officers Were Powdered.

"The next event was very, very funny. It was that which had appeared on the official programme as the "Officers Powder Race." Everyone had been wondering what on earth it could be. When five elderly "ladies" attired in print dresses and wearing most fantastic headgear, appeared on the track, and lined up for a 100-yard dash, you would scarcely recognize five of the most sedate of the Seventh's officers, unless you saw the few inches of red-striped trousers which—Shame!—could be seen beneath the dresses The crowd shrieked with delight as these "ladies" raced down the track. Lieut. Ingram, attired in a handsome Mother Hubbard dress, crossed the line first. Then came Lieut. Carling, who "looked lovely" in a dressing gown and night-cap. Lieut. Westland was also a "Mother Hubbard," while Lieut. Macbeth "was striking" in a yellow skirt and a picture hat. Lieut. Andrews was "graciously lovely" in his new gown.

"When the laugh aroused by the event had subsided, the 100-yard dash, open to all soldiers, took place. There were fully 50 entries. First prize went to Lieut. Wilson, of the Seventy-seventh, Wentworth Regiment. He and thre brother lieutenants of the same regiment are taking a short course at Wolseley Barracks, and took part in yesterday's sports very successfully. Mr. Wilson in an old Toronto University boy, and shows the results of the practice on the track that he acquired there, Pte. A.J. McLaughlin, Company K of the Seventh, took second, and third prize was won by Sergt. Will Rider, of C Company.

"Then came a quarter-staff contest between Messrs. Sifton and Stewart. Twirling their poles skillfully over their heads, the two men showed the crowd how much science can be put into a fight with ordinary sticks. With heir heads protected, the contestants did not mind many a hard smack on the cranium. Two rounds were given.

"Rapid Tent Pitching.

"The next was one of the star events of the afternoon, namely, the tent raising contest. Seven teams of four men each took part. It is marvelous how quickly a military tent can be erected by trained men. One man hammers in the pegs, another raises the canvas on a pole, while another fastens the guys. The following men from the Barracks far outdistanced the others: Sergt. Good, Corp. Maule, Corp. Linwood and Pte, Lawrence, It was just exactly 2 1/2 minutes from the time their tent bag was opened until the four men stood in front of the erected tent at attention, waiting the inspection of the Judges. Company B, of the Seventh, came next, and a team from H Company third.

"In the tent striking contest which followed immediately, the "regulars" were again successful. Company F took second place, and B came third. Thus B Company distinguished itself by getting two prizes. The members of this team were: Sergt. Skelton, Corps. McGregor and Thompson and Lance-Corp. Smith.

"F Company were unfortunate in the first of the contests. They finished third, but a couple of pegs got loose and came out after the squad had stood to attention.

"Officers Took Relay Race.

"The company relay race came next. Seven teams of four men each were entered from the Seventh, and the aforementioned four officers from the Seventy-seventh Regiment also took part. The article which had to be carried by the relays, from one man to the next, was no less than a rifle, and as the race was the full length of the course, the run was a pretty stiff one. The team from the Seventy-seventh, consisting of Lieuts. Bertram, Grafton, Clark and Wilson won out. Company E came second with the following [missing text] was taken by the following team from Company H: Graham, — Northcott Treblicock and Geary.

"Bayonet vs, sword, the weapons being in the hands of Messrs. William: and Stewart, was the spectacular contest which was next on the programme Stewart made five points and Williams three.

"A picked company of non-coms, and men from the Seventh next gave an exhibition of physical drill on the platform, under the command of Capt. McCrimmon, and to the accompaniment of band music. The men wore white shirts, and the graceful way in which they went through various rythmical movements with the rifle greatly pleased the crowd, The drill was a winner.

"Sergt. Williams and Mr, Sifton, attired in hauberks and headpieces, Which made them look like knights of old, then appeared on the track on horseback, and gave an exhibition of mounted broad-sword fighting. Williams' horse was not a good animal for the purpose, but the contest was nevertheless, brisk. The clash of the swords, as the horses wheeled around each other, was enough to take one's mind far back to days when knighthood was in flower. Williams made 4 points while Sitton made 5.

"New Sport in London.

"The eyes of the spectators had wandered from time to time to a large leather globe, fully six feet in diameter, which lay in a dray in the ring. This was now hauled out on to the track, and twenty soldiers ran out and formed up in two lines on each side of it. Whether the ball was solid and Weighed 100 pounds or whether it was hollow the crowds did not know, until with a rush the opposing sides closed on the ball, and in a second it was dancing on top of twenty heads with forty hands striving to push it, some one way, some another.

"This was a pushball match—the first of its kind that has ever been played in London—and which proved to be very exciting, as well as the chief novelty of the afternoon, The contesting teams were chosen from the officers, and from the non-coms, and men respectively. The team which pushed the great ball across a line at the rear of the other team's territory gained one point.

"Up and down the ring the men strove, the ball now going dangerously near one of the two back lines and now the other. Now it would be pushed along the ground, now it would be shoved in the air and dance along the heads of the contestants, Now it would be at one side of the track and now the other. After 1 1/2 minutes of desperate playing the officers sent the ball across their opponents' line, and 2 1/2 minutes later they repeated the trick, giving them the game, Capt, Abbott was referee.

"The teams were: Officers—Capts. Reid, McCrimmon and Beecher, Lieuts, Bently, Andrews, Westland, Ingram (Seventh), and Lieuts, Wilson, Clark and Clark (Seventy-seventh). Men—Col. Sergt. Jacobs, Rider and Insley, Sergts, Foster Houghton and McDonuid, Corp. Whitton, and Ptes. Hall, Dundas and Warren.

"Pushball is a great game and it has some to stay as far as the Seventh in concerned, Next winter will see teams organized in the Armories to play the came.

"With the pushball match military day in Queen's Park was concluded, There were several other events which were to have been put on, but these had to be called off on account of the lateness of the bour. So, donning thir busbies and taking up thelr arms, which had been stacked in the ring, the Seventh took up their line of march like magic and moved off homewards to the cheers of the crowd.

"The committee of the Seventh which arranged and carried out the military day deserves great creait for its work. Capts. Reid and Little, Lieuts. Bentley and Macbeth were extremely active. Capt. Reid was president and Lieut. Bentley was secretary. Others who worked hard were, Lieut. Andrews, Capt. McCrimmon, Capt. Graham, Lieut, Westland and Lieut. Ingram."

Within a few weeks following the Military day in Queen's Park, Wolseley Barracks and No. 1 Company were back in the paper for a lengthy examination of their own. The London Advertiser edition of 28 Aug 1905 carried an article about service at the barracks, which included a statement from Cockburn on the Commanding Officer. The timing of the article was no coincidence, following rumours of dissatisfaction after the posting of a number of men to the new regimental station being established at Halifax in 1905:

"Military Matters Booming At Wolseley Barracks
"Men Satisfied, Discipline Good—Everything in Ship-Shape From All Standpoints.

"Wolseley Barracks, or in other words, No. 1 Company of the Royal Canadian Regiment, is in better condition than it has ever been in its previous history. This is the conclusion an Advertiser representative came to after being shown through the "works" of the big institution this morning, There have been rumors of discontent among the men and there have been desertions. But these are accounted for by the fact that there is a new regime at the barracks. When a change occurs in the "running" of any institution, there are always some who are discontented. But that the discipline and the organization at the barracks are tip-top is the only conclusion which can be arrived at by anyone who has the same opportunity of investigating the state of affairs at No. 1 depot as the reporter.

"Man Satisfied.

"According to a statement by one of officers, the discipline at the barracks had become rather lax. Col. McDougall was sent here in May last to make reforms. He has done so, and there are "kickers." But the opinion of most of the men interviewed by The Advertiser—and the reporter was given free entrance into all parts of the Institution—was to the effect that there is no more desirable depot for men who contemplate entering military life than the London barracks.

"Our grub is of the very best. We get extras," said a private who happened to be in the Cookhouse.

"Col. McDougall is a soldier and a gentleman, and has always treated me as such," said. Sergt. Cockburn, who is in charge of the canteen, and who is also the efficient and genial brawny drum-major of the Seventh Regiment.

"The sergeants mess has no kick coming," remarked a member of that institution.

"Want Presents Back.

"If any man has been disciplined it was for his deserts and for the good of the corp," asserted a private.

"In an article which appeared in The Advertiser a week ago, it was said, on the authority of a former non-com. of the barracks, that the non-coms. who had been moved to Halifax were losing money by reason of the fact that they left behind them all the money that they had invested in the sergeant's mess. But is it the regulation that when non-coms. are transferred they carry away the furniture that they helped to pay for in the sergeants mess? Of course not. The transferred ones have the benefit of the mess at the depot to which they are transferred, and in turn they leave behind their own mess for their successors. As for the "retiring fund," which the old non-coms. built up, it was divided among the members of the non-coms'' mess shortly after Col. McDougall arrived, so that no one is a loser on that score.

"Kick" Falls Flat.

"A couple of men had complained that Sergt. Gilmour, who left the service two years ago, was given his old rank back again when he returned. But the fact is that he held a certificate entitling him to this rank, when others who had stayed right with the service at the Barracks had not. Promotion, as a rule, goes by length of service, but it is within the discretion of the commanding officer to vary this rule when he thinks it is for the good of the depot.

"When the call for Halifax came, it was natural that the men who were considers "kickers" or "knockers" at the Barracks should be the ones to be transferred. The officers say that a bunch of this class had grown up on Carling's Heights, and that the call for men to man the Halifax fort was a providential opportunity for breaking up the bunch.

"Several privates remonstrated when Corp. Worswick was reduced to the ranks, and registered their kick in the press. But the officers questioned by The Advertiser said that Worswick was unsoldierly, and hampered the introduction of discipline at the Barracks, and that he deserved his reduction, which was made by a regular court-martial after all the facts had been considered.

"Now Commander Just.

"Pte. Horner, who has been twenty years in the service, and who claims that he has been unjustly treated by past commanders, said that Col McDougall took up his case as soon an he arrived. In fact, the consensus of opinion at the Barracks was to the effect that the new commanding officer is distinctly doing his duty.

"The present staff at the Barracks is good. Three officers and half a dozen of the men have seen active service. Under the colonel, is Major Carpenter, commander of the company, Lieut. Gibson, adjutant, and Lieut. George Macbeth, who is attached for duty. Everyone knows that George Macbeth is a soldier through and through.

"An Innovation.

"A much appreciated innovation made by Col. McDougall and his officers is that a series of rifle matches at the Cove have been arranged for the men, handsome cash prizes to be provided from the profits of the canteen. There will be seven matches."

Cockburn was back in his role as drum-major on 29 Apr 1906. This time, The London Advertiser reported in an announcement the day prior and a descriptive report the following day, he led the Seventh Regiment Bugle Band. The occasion was a church parade for the Collegiate Institute Cadet Corps at the Memorial Church, for which band and cadets marched from the Armouries to the church.

The London Advertiser, in its edition of 16 Feb 1907, described the annual dinner held the previous evening by the sergeants, staff sergeants and warrant officers of the Seventh Regiment. Although not named as attending, Cockburn was very likely there. He was, however, named as a subject of one of the lantern slides that preceded the motion picture show the dinner guests enjoyed before dining:

"Sergeants of the 7th Have Merry Time
"Dinner and Theater Party Given by Non-Coms. of City's Crack Corps.

"The sergeants, staff sergeants and warrant officers of the Seventh Regiment, held their annual dinner last evening. The event commenced with a theater party, and was concluded by a grand banquet at the Tecumseh House. A most enjoyable evening was spent, and the event was probably the most successful of the kind in the history of the regiment.

"The front three rows in the orchestra at Bennett's Vaudeville Theater were reserved for the sergeants. All the boxes were all draped with flags and bunting and presented a very pleasing sight. The performance commenced by the singing of "God Save the King" As the sergeants rose to their feet to sing, it was taken as a signal for the rest of the house to do the same, and everyone sang with gusto.

"As far as possible the names of the military guests present were worked into the performances, in humorous connections, making the programme, which was already very good, of special interest to the sergeants and their friends. The moving pictures were introduced by pictures of the King, Queen and Lord Roberts. Then came pictures of Colonel Little, Major Hayes, Sergt. Cockburn and other well-known local military men.

"From the show the party adjourned, to the Tecumseh House, where a dinner had been prepared for them. When all had done justice to the edibles, the company began to make merry with toasts, songs and speeches, and an enjoyable time was passed until an early hour in the morning.

"Sergt-Major Milligan presided and opened the programme, which he introduced with a short speech, expressing his gratification at the evident success of the affair. The programme began with a toast to "The King" and the following toasts were also given: "Canada," … "The Canadian Militia," … "The Mayor and Corporation,"… "The Staff and Commanding Officers," … "Sister Corps and Veterans."

Cockburn was front page news, accompanied by a photo of him in his full drum-major's regalia for the 7th Regiment, in The London Advertiser on 18 Oct 1907. The announcement read:

"Awarded Long Service Medal
"Honor Bestowed on Sergeant Cockburn, of Wolseley Barracks—Popular Officer.

"Sergt. J.W. Cockburn, of "K" Company, Royal Canadian Regiment, Wolseley Barracks, was the recipient yesterday of the long service and good conduct medal, having completed 18 years' service.

"Sergt. Cockburn's many friends in London and elsewhere will wish him many long years to wear his well-earned decoration.

"Londoners take a particular pride in the big drum major,who always heads the Seventh Regiment Band, and who made big hits with the regiment at Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo and other cities, He is a prince of good fellows and is every inch a soldier."

Published in the 9 Nov 1907 edition of the Canada Gazette, General Order 1717 for that year read:

"The undermentioned non-commissioned officer of the Permanent Force has been granted a medal for long service and good conduct:—

"No. 3234, Corporal and Acting Sergeant John W. Cockburn, Royal Canadian Regiment. (H.Q. 51-7-81)."

In the fall of 1907, Cockburn was once again demonstrating his skills as an organizer of social events for the garrison. On 29 Oct 1907, the Advertiser carried a descriptive article on the annual theatre party hosted by the non-commissioned officers:

"Soldier Boys Had Right Jolly Time
"The Annual Theater Party of the Officers of Wolseley

"The annual theater party and dinner of the non-commissioned officers of No. 1 Company, R.C.R, was held last night at Bennetts and afterwards at local cafe, and proved one of the best affairs of the kind held this season.

"The sergeants of the Seventh Regiment were the guests of the Wolseley Barracks' soldiers. A very fine spread was served to the boys in scarlet, and everybody had a good time.

"After the splendid banquet had been done justice to, a programme of songs, speeches and stories was introduced by the toast master, Sergt.-Major Borland. It included toasts to the King, the officers, the visitors and the hosts.

"Lt.-Col. Belton, Capt. McCrimmon, Capt. A. Little and Lieut. Snider responded to the toast to the officers, and the toast to the visitors was responded to by Sergt-Major Brakine, of the Seventh Regiment. Color Sergt. Shergold, of the R.C.R., Sergt. Cheney of the R.C.R., Quartermaster Sergt. Legge, of Stanley Barracks: Sergt. Kay, of the P.A.M.C., and Sergt. Matthews, of the Twenty-fifth Regiment, St. Thomas, also spoke.

"The health of the non-commissioned officers of the barracks was proposed by Capt. McCrimmon on behalf of the guests. He spoke of the great pleasure all experienced at being the guests of such a bunch of good fellows, as the men of Wolseley Barracks, Sergt Major Borland, Sergt. White and Sergt. Gilmour responded to this toast.

"The musical programme was a very choice one. Prof. Stevens, of Bennett's, was the pianist of the occasion, and made a decided hit with the soldiers by his splendid playing. Mr. Alfred E. Dunn sang several solos in excellent voice, and Drum-Sergt. Taylor sang a very popular ballad in good style.

"The committee in charge of the affair consisting of Sergts. Cockburn, White and Sproule, were given a great deal of credit by the officers for the splendid success of the evening."

In the summer of 1908, the Canadian Militia, Permanent and Non-Permanent troops, massed at Quebec for the celebrations of the Quebec Tercentenary. The RCR, leaving those troops necessary for essential duties in each garrison, brought troops from each regimental garrison: Halifax, Fredericton, Quebec, London, and Toronto. The signal event for military participants at the Tercentenary was the royal review on the Plains of Abraham.

As described in the regimental history (Fetherstonhaugh, 1936):

"From a spectacular point of view, not even the pageants of the Quebec Tercentenary exceeded in splendour the scene on the Plains of Abraham when His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales reviewed 13,551 Canadian troops, with 2,495 horses and 26 guns, 1,786 sailors and marines from the ships of the Royal Navy, 279 sailors from the United States warship New Hampshire, and 140 sailors of the French Navy. After an inspection of the units, in the course of which the public, for the first time, saw a prince of the reigning house standing at the salute while the bands played 0 Canada, and saw the more familiar salute during the playing of God Save the King, His Royal Highness mounted a charger supplied by the Royal Canadian Dragoons and rode to the saluting base, accompanied by Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, Major-General Otter, and the members of his staff. With bands playing, the horse, foot, and artillery then marched past in the brilliant sunshine, amid spontaneous cheering from the host of spectators in the stands."

John Cockburn attended the Tercentenary celebrations, but he did not parade with The RCR. The London Advertiser edition of 18 Jul 1908 described the departure of Militia troops from London:

"Composite Regiment Off For East
"Splendid Parade of Seventh
"Rural Corps Leaves for Quebec Celebration and Make a Fine Appearance in March Through to Depot—Local Regiment Holds Final March-Out.

"Headed by Sergeant Cockburn, of Wolseley Barracks, and the band of the Twenty-ninth Regiment of Berlin, the First Composite Rural Regiment, marched down Dundas street to Richmond, and from there to the Grand Trunk station last night, and left for Quebec promptly at 6 o'clock. The men made a fine appearance and marched steadily, and will, no doubt, reflect great credit upon themselves at Quebec. As far as their physical appearance goes they leave nothing to be desired. The Composite Regiment includes one company each from the Twenty-fourth, Chatham; Twenty-fifth, St. Thomas; Twenty-sixth, Strathroy; Twenty-seventh, Sarnia; Twenty-eighth, Stratford; Twenty-ninth, Berlin; Thirty-second, Goderich, and Thirty-third, Walkerton, Col. Mackenzie, of Sarnia, was in command.

"The train was made up of nine cars including a Pullman for the officers, and was taken as far as Toronto by Engine No. 958, in charge of Engineer Radway.

"Seventh's Last Parade.

"The final parade of the Seventh Regiment before they leave for Quebec was held last night, and thousands of citizens thronged the streets. At many points along the line of march hearty applause was accorded the men for their splendid marching and soldier-like appearance, and there is not the slightest doubt that London's soldiers will maintain the prestige they have won. The regiment was never in better shape, and each and every man is determined to do his best. The steadiness of the regiment was a feature that called forth the most favorable comment from those who witnessed the parade, and every company seemed to move as one man.

"The regiment will parade at the armories on Sunday morning at 7:30, and will leave at 8 o'clock sharp for the C.P.R. station, where it will entrain and leave for Quebec at 8:30.

"The men will parade in busbies, serges and leggings and the officers in service caps and patrol jackets.

"Each man has been furnished with a kit bag, in which to take necessaries, Each bag has a neat tag with the Seventh Arms on it, and a space for the soldier to write his name, address and company. All baggage must be at the armories tonight.

"Will Be 300 Strong.

"The regiment will go considerably over 300 strong, the extra expense being paid out of the company funds.

"Both the bands will go at full strength, and if their performance last night is any index of what is to come they will stand second to none at Quebec."

The bands of the 7th Regiment paraded at Quebec with 24 in the bugle band and 35 in the regimental band.

Cockburn returned to London with the Fusiliers after the Tercentenary celebrations. The 14 Aug 1908 edition of The London Advertiser provided mention of another family visit to the Cockburn home. "Mrs. Cockburn, of Toronto, returned home yesterday afternoon after spending a very pleasant month as the guest of her son, Sergt. Cockburn, of Oxford street." That would be the last time she saw her son.

Tragedy struck London on 18 Aug 1908. The Westman hardware store in downtown London was at 121 Dundas Street, in the block east of Talbot Street and near the Covent Garden Market. Situateded in a block of buildings between Dundas Street and Covent Market Place, the store opened onto both streets. With a basement and three floors of hardware stock including flammable solvents and other materials, the store caught fire on 18 Aug and the fire would be a significant event in London's history. It is still known today as the Westman Hardware fire. By the time the fire was out, both town and garrison would be in mourning.

The London Advertiser headline on 19 Aug 1908 accompanied by the now familiar full body photograph of Cockburn as the 7th Regiment's drum major, confirmed the chilling news that had no doubt been spreading by word of mouth from the crowds that had gathered to watch the fire fighting efforts. The stacked story headlines read:

"Fire Chief Clark Crushed to Death in Burning Hardware Store Fireman Henry Wein and Sergt. Cockburn, R.C.R., Die With Him
"Awful Result of Fire at Westman's, Three Men Die, Caught In Death Trap
"Floors Fall in When the Chief, Two of His Men and the Drum Major of Seventh Regiment Took a Line Into the Store.
"Fireman William Cole Escaped Death, But Is badly Injured
"Bodies of the Dead Were Not Removed for Some Hours—Awful Scenes of Death and Destruction—Best Fire Chief in Canada Goes Across the Great Divide.

The casualty list followed:

Fire Chief Lawrence Clark.
Sergeant Cockburn, Wolseley Barracks.
Fireman Henry Wein, Central Station.

Fireman William Cole, Central Station.

Loss—About $101,200.
Insurance—About $119,700.
Cause Supposed Electric Wire.
Duration of Fire—Two Hours and a Half.

The leading paragraphs of the story, which would develop and be revisited over following days, gave the first summary of details that many Londoners would have seen:

London was yesterday visited by another disaster, and as a result Fire Chief Clark, Sergt. Cockburn, of Wolseley Barracks, Fireman Henry Wein are dead, and Fireman William Cole is badly injured. The horror occurred in a fire at Westman's hardware store, on Dundas street west. It started shortly before 5 o'clock, and the three floors collapsed about 6:25 o'clock, burying all four men. Fireman Cole was taken out about 8:30 o'clock and removed to his home. Chief Clark Was taken out dead five minutes to twelve, and Fireman Wein shortly after. Sergt. Cockburn was not found until about 10 minutes of 3. The loss will amount to $100,000, well insured.

The alarm was turned in from Westman's hardware store, Dundas street, at 10 minutes to five. Chief Clark, who had just returned to the hall from a conference with Mayor Stevely, Ald. Greenlees and ex-Mayor Judd, relative to the claim of the late Fireman Secombe, led his brigade to the blaze. When he reached the scene of the fire he got his men to work rapidly.

A Desperate Fire.

From the beginning it was seen to be a desperate fire. From every window poured cloud upon cloud of heavy smoke. Chief Clark decided to pour in all the water he could, and as a result every available foot of hose was laid. As a result of this there was need of many volunteers. Sergt. Cockburn, Market Clerk Maker and many others went into the line of fire-fighters and commenced the work of saving the building from destruction.

The front page of the 19 Aug 1908 issue of the Advertiser also carried an article dedicated to Cockburn. That it was ready to print so soon after the fire shows how well known Cockburn was in the city, both to the reporters and editors at the paper and to the city at large:

"Sergt. Jack Cockburn Dead Killed Fighting the Fire
"All London Amazed and Saddened by Tragic End of the Popular and Gallant Drum Major of the Wolseley Barracks Staff

"Sergt. Cockburn dead," gasped the crowd in amazement last evening, when the news spread that the gallant drum-major of the Seventh Regiment had met a cruel fate with Chief Clark.

"It seemed impossible that Jack Cockburn, known to everybody in the city, should be dead.

"Hundreds of the soldier boys of the Seventh Regiment and former members thronged about the scene of the fire, and asked for news of him. When the mad truth was learned, they went away, many of them in tears.

"For twenty years he has been a popular figure in London, No Seventh Regiment parade would be complete without him.

"Yesterday afternoon he came to the scene of the fire, and stood in front of the building for a time, Approaching the writer, he said:

"Anxious To Help.

"It looks pretty bad, chum, I wonder if I could help the chief, If I thought I could, I would."

He was told that there were scarcely enough men to man the hose.

"All right, chum," he said, "I will help the chief."

"He then walked up to the chief, who greeted him with a smile, and in a moment Jack Cockburn was in the midst of the fire, working like a hero.

"Once he was seen to leave the line of hose he was handling and come the the chief.

"They talked the situation over for a minute, and then back to work he went.

"The chief followed him in, and in a few minutes the three men went in, never to come out alive.

"Sergt. Cockburn's Career.

"Sergt. Cockburn was born in Toronto 40 years ago, on the farm on which the Woodbine track now stands. He enlisted nearly 22 years ago, and has been connected with Wolseley Barracks nearly all that time.

"He was married some years ago to a Miss Leathorn, of this city. They have no family.

"In the rush for the Klondike, he was sent to that country with a contingent, Remaining there for over a year, Since his return he has been at the Barracks.

"He is survived by his parents in Toronto, three brothers, Frank, George and Robert, and two sisters, Mrs. Cope and Miss Ruth Cockburn, all living in Toronto.

"He was a member of Corinthian Lodge, A. F. and A. M.

"Jack Cockburn, the handsome, good-hearted, good-natured soldier, will be missed. He died as befits a soldier.

The newspaper's coverage of the fire and the tragic end of Cockburn, Chief Clark and Fireman Wein was not limited to the front page. Many column inches were dedicated to the story. Mentions of Cockburn only serve to reinforce the impressions we have of the social status he had in the London community:


"Whether the loss of human life was necessary or not, the public will pay homage to the memory of the heroes who sacrificed themselves in what they believed to be the performance of duty.

"Two of the victims, Chief Clark and Sergeant Cockburn, were public figures, and were noted for their manliness and a courage that was absolutely fearless, if not reckless."

Even as the bodies were recovered and the newspaper stories were written, the scope of the loss was still to be shared with the families of the dead men. Maud Cockburn was bereft and struggled to comprehend the fact that her husband was dead. The London Advertiser, also in is edition of 19 Aug 1908, reported with the characteristic lack of sensitivity found in the newspapers of the era:

"Waiting for Jack to Come Home
"Mrs. Cockburn in State of Collapse
"Wife of the Dead Sergeant Gives Way to Uncontrollable Grief.

"Mrs. Cockburn, the widow of the late Sergt. Cockburn, is in a very serious state of collapse.

"Last night the news was broken to her that her husband was killed, but she refused to believe it.

"For hours she declared that it could not be so, that Jack would come back to her.

"Dry-eyed she waited, and when hour after hour passed by, and he did not come, the truth burst upon her and her grief knew no bounds.

"She moaned and sobbed incessantly, and at noon today her condition was extremely serious.

"A very pretty story is told of the dead sergeant.

"He had been at the barracks in the afternoon, and hearing of the fire, he decided to go down town.

"Nearing his home he got the conductor of the street car to stop. His wife came out. Jack saluted her and said: "Hello, chum! I am going down to see the fire. I will be home early. Don't wait for me for lunch. Goodbye, chum," he called as the car moved on.

"And she is still waiting for him to come home."

The same page of the paper that described Mrs. Cockburn's reactions also shared the response of a more infamous recipient of the news. Four months previously, Private William Alexander Moir had shot and killed Color-Sergeant Harry Lloyd at the Barracks. Following his escape and later apprehension, at the time of the Westman Fire Moir was in the city jail, not far from the site of the fire, awaiting trial. The 19 Aug edition of the Advertiser shared his reactions:

"Big Jack Cockburn Very Popular

"I cannot believe that Sergt. Cockburn is dead!" exclaimed a well-known local businessman today. "Big Jack Cockburn dead! I can't believe it. Why, he was the best fellow in the world."

"The above sentiment is a general one, and deepest regret is being expressed around the city over the popular sergeant's untimely end.

"Private William Moir, who is shortly to be tried for the murder of Color-Sergt. Lloyd of Wolseley Barracks, was this morning informed of Sergt. Cockburn's death.

"The best man that ever shouldered a gun!" was Moir's tribute to the deceased. "Whenever a man needed help, Jack Cockburn was the first to come to his assistance."

"Under the jail regulations, the prisoners are not allowed to see the daily papers, and Moir did not learn of the death of Sergt. Cockburn until noon. When a turnkey broke the news to him Moir almost broke down, and it was some moments before he could speak. The shock completely unnerved him, and the jail authorities state that he is taking the death of the sergeant very hard."

The many articles in the 19 Aug edition show The London Advertiser's keen pursuit of the story. Even the injured fireman, William Cole, was interviewed to learn more about what happened inside the building leading to the collapse that killed Clark and Cockburn. Excerpts mentioning Cockburn from that story follow:

"Heroes Prayed in the Fire "Father, Forgive My Sins"
"Fireman Cole Tells of the Terrible Agony of the Four Men Under the Pile of Burning Debris—An Appalling Story of Hours Spent Between Dead Men and With the Dying.

"The Fatal Order.

"Mr. Cole stated that when orders were received from Chief Clark to run a line of hose into the burning building, he grasped the nozzle and led the way, with Sergt. Cockburn immediately behind, Fireman Wein next, and Chief Clark last.

"The men were well bunched when they entered the building.

"About midway in the building the dense smoke and flames halted the brave quartet, and as they paused, blinded by the smoke, a terrible crash was heard.

"I could not see three inches in front of my face," said Mr. Cole, "and I was positive that my time had come. Near me I could hear men praying, and I believe that the men were Chief Clark and Sergt. Cockburn. "One of the men was saying: 'Oh, God, I am dying! Father, forgive me my sins and relieve me from this terrible agony!'"

"Sergt. Cockburn was found a little distance from the others. He was lying under a mass of debris, and was caught and doubled up. He was evidently killed almost instantly.

"Found Cockburn's Body

"No sign of Sergt Cockburn could be found, but the rescuers knew that he must be close at hand.

"The toiled on, and at 2 o'clock he was found buried beneath the ruins.

"At 2:45 o'clock he was taken out, and removed to the undertaking rooms, and the last victim had been accounted for."

News of the fire spread far and wide, the following summery was published in the Manitoba Morning Free Press of Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 19 Aug 1908:

"Three Perished in Fire at London
"Walls of Building Gutted by Fire Fell Crushing Men to Death.

"London, Ont., Aug. 18.—-The collapse of the Westman Hardware Co.'s building at 121 Dundas, which had been gutted by fire to-night caused the death of Fire Chief Lawrence Clark, aged 40; Fireman Harry Wynne, aged 25, appointed two years ago and Sergt. John Cockburn of the R. C. R. aged 40. With Fireman Cole they had entered the first floor at 7 o'clock, the fire having then been raging for two hours. They were about the centre of the building when all the floors collapsed and the men were buried. Cole was extricated and was not seriously hurt. Wynne's body was found an hour later and Clark's at midnight, the latter being fearfully crushed. The losses are : Westman Hardware Co. $50,000, insurance $26,000; Darch and Hunter, feed, $25,000, insurance $2,500; Morrison Shoe Co., $5,000 covered by insurance; Cowan Hardware Co., $47,000, insured. Clark came from the Hamilton fire department four years ago, succeeding Chief Roe, who was also killed while on duty."

On the day following the fire, attention turned to the necessity of laying to rest the victims. Chief Clark and Sergeant Cockburn were to be buried in London, while Fireman Wein was transported by train to Crediton, to be buried by his family. Funerals of well-known personalities of the day became spectacles with the funeral processions drawing crows to watch the passing column. The 20 Aug 1908 Advertiser, with two headlining stories on the front page, gave the first intimations of the scale of the simultaneous funerals of Cockburn and Clark:

"Fire Chief Clark's Funeral Will Be Held With That of Late Sergt. Cockburn "City of London, 7th Regiment of Fusiliers and the Masonic Fraternity Will Combine To Do Honor to the Heroic Dead—-The Interment. on Friday.

"At a special meeting of the city council last evening arrangements were made for the funerals of the late Chief Clark and Sergt. Cockburn. Resolutions of sympathy were expressed to the families of the deceased, and it was decided that the council and all civic bodies should attend the funerals.

"The last sad rites will be performed on Friday afternoon.

"The funeral services of Sergt. Cockburn will be held at the house at 2 o'clock, and at 2:45 the cortege will move to the residence of Fire Chief Clark.

"The services there will commence at 2:30 and the funeral will be held at 3 o'clock.

"Both funerals will be conducted by the Masons.

"The members of Tuscan Lodge will officiate at Chief Clark's and the members of Corinthian Lodge at that of Sergt. Cockburn.

"The Seventh Regiment will attend Sergt. Cockburn's funeral, and also the soldiers of the barracks.

"Tributes to the Dead.

Tributes to the bravery of the dead heroes were paid by all the aldermen last evening. Each had lost a friend in Chief Clark, while Sergt. Cockburn was personally known to all. They were brave men and had died at duty's call.

"Gentlemen of the Council," began Mayor Stevely in opening the proceedings, "when we met two weeks ago to pass resolutions of condolence on the death of an old and faithful servant we little thought that the flag would be again half-masted in so short a time. On that occasion we met to pay our respects to an old servant who had literally worn himself out in the city's Service. Now we come to pay our respects to three men than whom none seemed assured of longer life. We mourn the premature death of Chief Clark, Sergt. Cockburn and Fireman Wein."

In another article about the upcoming funerals, the Mayor requested that places of business along the line of march to the cemetery close their business and draw their blinds during the funeral. The 20 Aug edition of the Advertiser further detailed the motions made by city council on behalf of the victims of the fire, including:

"Late Sergt. Cockburn.

"Ald. Beattie then begged permission to move a resolution.

"I can say but few words in reference to this matter," said Ald. Beattle. "Every member of the militia of this city, every member of the regular force in Ontario, as well as the city council and the citizens generally, deplore deeply the death of Sergt. Cockburn.

"He was a man of genial disposition. He was loved by all classes of citizens. He had no enemies, but could boast of a legion of friends. Every person who knew him respected him. His bravery and his unselfishness appealed to all. His death I sincerely regret."

"The resolution, which was seconded by Ald. Parsons, was as follows:

"Whereas the late John Cockburn, drum-major of the Seventh Regiment Fusiliers, has for nearly twenty years been a prominent figure in military circles in this city, and has recently lost his life in the disastrous fire in Westman's hardware store;

"And whereas Sergt. Cockburn unselfishly and heartily offered his services to the late Chief Clark and rendered most helpful aid to the department;

"Be it resolved that the council spread upon the minutes of its proceedings an expression of their admiration for his unselfish and brave act in coming to the assistance of the firemen.

"Be it further resolved that the council convey to his sorrowing widow their deepest sympathy in her irreparable loss and to the parents and family in the loss of so worthy a son and brother;

"Be it further resolved that the city clerk be instructed to have a copy of this resolution suitably engrossed and forwarded to the sorrowing family of the deceased."

"This resolution was also carried by a standing vote.

"Ald. Rose regretted to make the motion he was about to make. Three of the strongest-looking citizens of London had met untimely deaths. Two of them were servants of the city, and had died at the post of duty. The other had volunteered to assist the chief, and he died at his post. It was a public calamity. None regretted the death of Chief Clark and his comrades more than he. Both Chief Clark and Sergt. Cockburn had long been personal friends of his, and he felt their loss keenly."

The 20 August edition of the Advertiser also included further notes about Cockburn in its columns, including one item reprinted from the Toronto Globe:

"Sergeant Cockburn.

"The funeral of Sergt. Cockburn will be military in character. A gun carriage has been secured from Hamilton, and the body will be borne along on it.

"The Seventh Regiment band will head the cortege, and will play the dead march from "Saul."

"The Seventh Regiment will attend, and the entire company of the R.C.R. officers. and men will accompany the remains.

"The pallbearers will be from the Sergeants of the Barracks, with whom Sergt. Cockburn has long been associated.

"Several representatives of the council will also attend.

"Rey. Canon Dann will conduct the services.

"Corinthian Lodge, A. F. and A. M., will also attend in a body."

"Sergeant Cockburn.

"Toronto Globe: Sergeant Cockburn, of the Royal Canadian Regiment at London, who was killed in the London fire Tuesday, while serving as a volunteer with the firemen he knew as friends, was regarded as the best-known member of the permanent corps in Western Ontario, with which he had been connected for twenty years.

"Sergeant Cockburn lived in Parkdale while a resident of Toronto, and a brother is the well-known Queen street tailor. He joined the Queen's Own when young, and enlisted at London about 1889. In 1898 he went to the Yukon with the Yukon Field Force, and had charge of a dog train between Fort Selkirk and Dawson City, returning to the London barracks in 1900. He was at Petawawa last year. A wife survives him."

The conduct of the funerals on 21 August continued to hold the attention of Londoners and fill the columns of The London Advertiser the following day. The day of the funerals, 21 Aug 1908, The London Advertiser printed lengthy descriptions of the ceremonies. Excerpts follow:

"Remains of Fire Heroes Were Laid at Rest
"Funerals of Chief Clark and Sergt. Cockburn

"Most Impressive Ceremonies London Ever Knew.
"Simple Services at the Homes
"Crowds of Citizens Throng the Streets and Silently View the Cortege.

"Extremely impressive were the funeral services of Chief Clark and Sergt. Cockburn this afternoon.

"Throngs of people lined the route of march as the corteges wended their ways to the cemetery.

"The crowds were almost as quiet as the grace itself, an occasional sob alone disturbing the solemnity of the occasion.

"The pall settled over the city, and the dread disaster was impressed upon the people more than it has been since the horror occurred.

"The business houses downtown were closed. Many of the large manufacturers stopped the machinery while the corteges were going past.

"The streets were thronged. Many visitors came to pay their last respects to two gallant men. Hamilton, Toronto and other cities were represented by large delegations of personal friends of both men. …

Some of the reporting covered the two funerals in general terms, while other passages focused on one ceremony of the other.

"A Military Funeral.

"The funeral was a military one, and as all military funerals are, was impressive and dramatic.

"The Seventh Regiment Band with which Drum-Major Cockburn had been so intimately connected for many years, played the "Dead March From Saul," most impressively.

"The weird music of the march and the muffled drums was most appealing, and subdued the crowd.

"The services commenced at 2 p.m. and shortly before 3 o'clock the cortege moved up Oxford to William street, down William street to Queen's avenue, and westward on Queen's avenue to Wellington street, where it was joined by the funeral of Chief Clark."

Also from The London Advertiser edition of 21 Aug 1908 was this description of the military participation in Cockburn's funeral:

"Sergt. Cockburn's Funeral.

"Sergt. Cockburn's funeral was also very largely attended. The popular soldier had a host of friends and admirers and as many as could came to pay their respects.

"The Seventh Regiment turned out in large numbers. Lieut.-Col. Reid and the majority of the officers were present.

"The regimental band had a large representation, and each man felt a keen personal loss in the death of Sergt. Cockburn.

"The Seventh Band led the march, followed by the gun carriage, on which lay the body of Sergt. Cockburn, draped with the Union Jack.

"On each side walked the pall-bearers, former comrades of the dead soldier, They were: Quartermaster-Sergt. I. White, Quartermaster-Sergt. L. Bingham, Color-Sergt. Gilmour, Drill-Sergt. Johnston, Drill-Sergt. Black, Quartermaster-Sergt. Dunlevy, O.R.S. Sproule and Quartermaster-Sergt. I. Legge, of Stanley Barracks, Toronto.

"Then came a firing party under the command of Sergt. Youngman.

"The Seventh Regiment, under Col. Reid, followed, with arms reversed.

"Then came the regulars from Wolseley Barracks.

"The Sixth Field Battery, under Major Mills, followed.

"Then came the mourners in carriages.

"A large number of rigs came next.

"As in the case of Chief Clark, the floral tributes were magnificent, the sheaf from the Seventh Regiment being particularly so."

The services conducted by the ministers at each home before the funeral procession were also reported on in detail. The Advertiser of 22 Aug 1908 included these remarks on John Cockburn:

"Late Sergeant Cockburn.

"Services at the residence of the late Sergeant Cockburn were conducted by the Rev. Mr. Hazen, of the Centennial Methodist Church, and were most impressive in every way.

"Rev. Mr. Hazen first read Corinthians 1, Chapter 15, on the resurrection, after which he delivered a short address on the life and character of the deceased.

"Dwelling on the qualities which for Sergt. Cockburn made friends of all whom he met, the speaker stated that it was these same qualities which led men to admire, love and respect the man who possessed them.

"Sergt. Cockburn's kindliness and generosity to all were marked characteristics of a life which had beamed forth naught but sunshine and comfort to others.

"Sergt. Cockburn was always willing to help the needy and the distressed, and his heart was as tender as it was brave.

"It was for qualities like these, not to mention innumerable other graces, that we loved Sergt. Cockburn, soldier, hero and man," said the speaker.

"A soldier by profession, Sergt. Cockburn had also been a soldier in spirit, and was always willing at all times and places to endure hardships or pain.

"Knowing no fear, with a heart that in bravery and kindliness was as large as his body, Sergt. Cockburn never considered consequences when duty called, and performed whatever was asked of him as befitted a true soldier, faithfully and willingly."

After the funeral services at their respective homes, the two funeral processions, those of Chief Clark and Sergt. Cockburn, joined enroute to the cemetery where separate burial ceremonies were conducted. The London Advertiser of 22 Aug 1908 described the scene at Cockburn's graveside:

"In the meantime the burial service was being read over Sergt. Cockburn, a few feet distant.

"After Rev. Mr. Hazen had read the burial service, the Masons of Corinthian Lodge took charge. Bros. J.W. Metherall, D. D. G. M, and H.J. Childs, grand master of Corinthian Lodge, read the burial service.

"A large representation from the Masons took part in the deeply impressive ceremonial

"The Last Post."

"On completing this, Sergt. Youngman drew the firing party from the barracks up at the grave, and the last salute was fired over the grave of the dead soldier.

"Then the bugler sounded the "Last Post" and "Lights Out" and the last chapter of the story of Sergt. Cockburn was written.

"There was a large crowd at the burial services."

The day after the funerals, 22 Aug 1908, The London Advertiser reported that the funeral processions were not without incident. The crowds along the route created a tension that was picked up by the horses on the procession and some were restrained with difficulty. At one point, near the corner of Rideout and Dundas streets, one team showed signs of bolting. Panic seized the crowd, it turned into a mob and attempted to escape the area. People fell and were trampled in the rush before control could be regained. The paper carried a list of over a dozen who were injured in the panicked rush, and an even longer list of lost articles that the owners were seeking.

Soon after the funerals, on 24 Aug 1908, The London Advertiser shared news of Mrs. Cockburn's new circumstances and presented the question of any obligation the city may have toward here. While the city would provide for the families of Clark and Wein, their responsibility toward a bystander who voluntarily stepped up to assist them even one as well known and respected as Cockburn, was less clear. At the outset, Maud Cockburn was willing to see what the city would do:

"Widow Will Trust Case to the City

"There was a rumor current this morning that the relatives of the late Sergt. Cockburn, who was killed in the Westman fire, will enter suit against the city for damages.

"This was denied by Mr. A.J. Denney, of East London, a brother-in-law of the deceased.

"We are trusting to the council to do what is fair by Mrs. Cockburn," he told The Advertiser. "Sergt. Cockburn lost his life in the city's service, and has left a widow practically penniless. He recently built a home, and this has yet to be paid for. Next year he would have had a pension of $1.50 a day should anything have happened. Now his salary is gone and there will be no pension. Under such circumstances we will simply leave the matter in the city's hands, trusting that they will do what is right."

"The general opinion is that the city should make a suitable grant, as Mrs. Cockburn is practically without funds. Before going to the Klondike some years ago Sergt. Cockburn took out $500 insurance, but this was in his mother's name, and as far as could be learned it was never changed.

""The home recently built by him was valued at $3,500 and he was paying for it out of his salary."

Later mentions of a grant to Mrs Cockburn appear in the paper in the following months, but the matter never appears to have reached a favorable resolution. The same paper that noted her readiness to leave the decision to the city also stated that it expected that a cash sum of $3000 would be paid to the widow of Fire Chief Clark.

On 31 Aug 1908, the Advertiser printed a the following "Card of Thanks" from Mrs. Cockburn:

"Mrs. John Cockburn desires to thank the city council, the Masons, the Seventh Regiment, Col. Little, the Knights of Pythias, the twenty-ninth Berlin Band, and many other organizations and individuals for the kindnesses and sympathy extended to her during her recent bereavement."

With no action by the city to provide for Cockburn's widow, The London Advertiser, on 7 Sep 1908, announced a benefit concert. The proceeds from the concert would go to assist Maud Cockburn. First proposed for 25 September, the date of the concert later changed to Friday, October 2nd. The programme was promised to include the Seventh Regiment Band and also one of London's leading lady vocalists. Patrons identified, even at this early date, included Sir John Carling, honorary colonel of the Seventh Regiment; Hon. C. S. Hyman, Mayor Stevely, Col. Peters. On 8 Sep 1908, the Advertiser added that "The physical drill corps of the Seventh Regiment and Wolseley Barracks will give exhibitions, and the band will render a choice programme."

On the days before and of the benefit concert, The London Advertiser carried detailed articles informing readers of the shows programme. On both 1 and 2 Oct these announcements were front page copy. Each article also named donors who contributed to the benefit fund being raised by the leading organizer, Mrs. Kingsmill. Those who attended the concert would also be able to purchase a souvenir programme containing a "full cut" (photo) of Sergt. Cockburn.

The day after the benefit concert, the The London Advertiser edition of 3 Oct 1908 described the event, with the story again starting on the front page:

"Cockburn benefit a Grand Success "Immense Crowd in the Armories
"Excellent Programme of Vocal and Instrumental Music, Etc., Was Carried Out.

"Successful beyond expectations was the Cockburn benefit concert in the armories last evening.

"Seldom has the commodious building seen a larger crowd than was present last night. Every seat in the vast auditorium was taken, and every box in the balcony was filled to capacity.

"The programme was a treat, one of the best ever given in the city. Every number on it was a good one, and there were no time-killers.

"The galleries were set apart as boxes and society turned out in force. Among those having boxes were: J.W. Scandrett, E. Guillemont, R. Arkell, Mrs. C.S. Hyman, Capt, W.J. Reld, Jack Smallman, Mayor Stevely, Thos. Gillean, J.B. Smallman, officers of First Hussars, two boxes; Col. Peters, Lieut. Gibson, W.M. Spencer, officers of Seventh Regiment, five boxes; Mrs. E.B. Smith, Mrs. J.C .Duffield, Mrs. R.K. Cowan, Mrs. F.E. Leonard, W.J. Metherall and William Gray.

"The Programme.

"The programme was a very extensive one, and thoroughly enjoyable. Particular mention might be made of the acts from Bennett's Vaudeville which Manager Driscoll very kindly. offered for the occasion, They included Mr. Frank Coombs, who made quite the hit of the evening. His excellent tenor voice was heard to splendid advantage in the large armories, and he was forced to respond to repeated encores, Mr. Joe Fields, also of Bennett's, played several instruments with skill, and was very popular.

"All the local artists did splendidly. The Shubert Ladies' Quartet, a most popular organization in the city, made a fine impression, and were very heartily received.

"Mr. Alfred Dunn sang The Trumpeter, in an artistic manner. He possesses a fine voice, and has rarely been heard to better advantage than last evening. He sang "Annie Laurie" as an encore.

"Sergt. Hiney, of the Seventh Regiment, played a concert solo, "The Lost Chord." For beauty of tone and finish there are few equals of, and none better, than Sergt. Hiney, and he was received most enthusiastically last evening. He was, too, forced to respond to an encore.

"The dancing of the Riddeil children is always popular in London, and they were just as popular last evening as ever before.

"Miss Grace Hiney, for a child, is a remarkable elocutionist. She possesses a voice of great power, and it reached last night to the farthest parts of the armories without strain. Her interpretative power is excellent, and she recited, "The Midnight Charge" in good style. Her number was much appreciated.

"Mrs. (Dr.) Kingsmill

"Seldom has Mrs. Harry Kingsmill been heard to better advantage than last evening. Her voice, notwithstanding a heavy cold, was fine, and she sang, "The Deathless Army" excellently.

"The audience was most enthusiastic, and she sang "Come Back To Erin" as an encore.

"Mr. Maurice Poure is always a favorite with London audiences, but no better greeting has ever been accorded him than last night. He was especially good in the "First Movement Concerto" by Mendelssohn, and thrilled the audience by the brilliancy of his playing. He gave a pleasing encore.

"The cornet duet by Mr. J. Shaw and Mr. C.T. Irwin was very fine, and was appreciated.

"Mr. Linnell played a banjo solo pleasingly, and Mr. Nicoli did some clever card tricks.

"Other Features.

"The Seventh Regiment Band, under the leadership of Bandmaster Slatter, was in good form last evening, and played several selections in capital style.

"Not the least enjoyable feature of the evening's enjoyment was the playing of the London Highland Pipers.

"Miss Minnie Raymond acted as accompanist, and performed the not easy task with skill and judgment.

"The physical drill teams from the Royal Canadian Regiment and the Seventh Regiment added to their laurels last evening. There are few better drilled teams in Canada than these, and they performed many intricate movements with exact precision. These numbers were as popular as any on the programme.

"The souvenir programme was a very tasty one, and had a good sale. A number of young ladies from the Daughters of the Empire sold them.

"To Whom Credit is Due.

(The article concluded with credit to Mrs. Kingsmill for her excellent work in making the concert a success, and a few paragraphs listing the patrons and patronesses, a veritable Who's Who of London society.)

The success of the Cockburn benefit concert and the announcement of funds raised was made public in the 17 Oct 1908 issue of The London Advertiser:

"Cockburn Fund Totalled $728.80
"Mrs. Kingsmill's Efforts Prove Highly Successful.

"Mrs. (Dr.) Harry Kingsmill announces that the Cockburn fund shows over all expenses the sum of $728.80, This sum will be at once handed over to the widow of the late Sergeant John Cockburn, who was killed in the Westman fire.

"Mrs. Kingsmill undertook the work of raising this fund, promising to secure $800, and she is not far behind her promise, She is given great credit for her unselfish action, but she gives all the credit to those who so kindly donated and assisted the fund in many other ways."

Maud Cockburn expressed her thanks to the community through the Advertiser on 23 Oct 1908:

"Card of Thanks

"Mrs. J.W. Cockburn, widow of the late Sergt. Cockburn, wishes to express her sincere thanks to the citizens of London, and elsewhere, especially, Mrs. (Dr.) Kingsmill, and the committee in charge, for Mrs. Cockburn's benefit."

Even as the benefit concert was organized and executed, the question of a grant to Cockburn's widow from the City of London continued to be unresolved. On 20 Oct 1908, the Advertiser, in notes on the City Council, included: "Mrs. J.W. Cockburn, widow of the late Sergeant Cockburn, killed in the Westman fire, applied for a grant." The paper noted on 30 Oct 1908 that the No. 1 Committee of City Council was to discuss the subject of a grant to Mrs. Cockburn, widow of Sergt. Cockburn. The following day the paper informed readers that "The question of a grant to Mrs. Cockburn, widow of the late Sergt. Cockburn, was laid over." Searches of later issues do not reveal a return to the topic by the city council.

Sadly, the death of her husband was not the end of tragic news for Maud Cockburn. On 17 Nov 1908, Maud's sister, Mrs. Ada Lane, found their mother dead at home in bed. The following day her husband and Maud's brother-in-law, Adoniram D. Lane, suffered a paralytic stroke and collapsed in the street. While the initial prognosis was not good, by 30 Nov 1908 it was reporting that Lane was gradually improving and expected to regain consciousness. He would survive and live until 1913, aged 67.

The Westman fire and the deaths of Cockburn, Clark and Wein did not quickly fade from memory in London. On 14 Jan 1909, The London Advertiser in a column on the Fire Brigade, included he following paragraph:


"The matter of accidents of a fatal character last year was the most disastrous of any in the history of the department. One of our most efficient and respected members, Lieut. W.H. Seccombe, of No. 3 Company, was suffocated at the City Hotel fire on May 31, and at the Westman fire on Aug. 18, two others, our late Chief Clark and Fireman H. Wein, of Chemical Company, No. 1, also Sergt. Cockburn, of the Military School, who was assisting at the same fire, were killed by falling floors. The many expressions and tributes of sympathy received by the department, not only from citizens, but from fire departments and others all over the Dominion, is perhaps unparalleled in the history of any department, and the funeral on the Friday following to Mount Pleasant Cemetery, with the two hearses, bearing the remains of the late Chief Clark and Sergt. Cockburn, preceded by the Band of the Seventh Regiment, followed by hundreds of citizens, bore unmistakable evidence that the city lost two true fireman and a brave citizen in the person of Sergt. Cockburn. Fireman W. Cole, who was so seriously injured at the same time was off duty 96 days."

Maud Cockburn is shown in the Canadian census of 1911. She is still living on Oxford Street in London and the house number has been recorded as 512 (the two-story brick house still stands). She has also taken in a lodger to make ends meet, a railway engineer names John Sheppard.

Three years after the Westman Hardware fire, The London Advertiser edition of 4 May 1911 announced plans for a memorial tablet dedicated to Sergt. John Cockburn. Based on a unanimously favourable vote, the Seventh Regiment Chapter of the Daughters of the Empire committed to holding a band concert in the London Armouries, home of the 7th Fusiliers. The proceeds would be used to commission a brass memorial tablet. The programme for the concert included "musical numbers by the Seventh Regiment Band, and fancy dancing by Gladys Comber, … a promenade during the evening. Ice cream will be served also, Admission will be 10 cents, and for reserved seats 25 cents."

The tablet project went forward, but it was to take over a year before it came to completion. On 18 Jun 1912, the Advertiser carried the story of the memorial plaque's dedication:

"Sergt. Cockburn Not Forgotten
"Tablet to His Memory Unveiled in the Armories on Monday Night.
"Work of the D. of E.
"Impressive Ceremony Conducted in Presence of Prominent Ladies, Civilians and Soldiers.

"A tablet erected to honor the memory of Sergt. John Cockburn, of "K" Company, R.C.R., and drum-major of the Seventh Regiment Fusiliers, was unveiled at the armories on Monday evening by the officers of the Seventh Regiment Fusiliers Chapter, Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, the ceremony being performed In the presence of the members of the regiment which had previously paraded, the ladies of the chapter, and a number of their guests.

"Mrs. (Lieut.-Col) Campbell, as regent, presented the memorial to Lieut.-Col. J.W. Little, honorary colonel of the Seventh, who in a short address, in which he congratulated the ladies on their zeal, accepted the gift.

"The tablet, which is located on the north wall of the drill shed, near the main arch, bears the following inscription: "In memory of the late Sergeant J. Cockburn, and drum-major of the Seventh Regiment Fusiliers, "K" Company, R.C.R., who lost his life while rendering assistance to firemen at the Westman fire, Aug. 18, 1908, Erected by the Seventh Regiment Chapter, of the Daughters of the Empire."

"The Ceremony.

"The Seventh turned out at full strength, and after the usual route march, which elicited applause from spectators about the streets, returned to the armories where the men formed to witness the unveiling, The band, which appeared at its best, discontinued the playing of popular airs, and gravely rendered, "The Dead March." Chaplain Dean Davis also took occasion to congratulate the ladies of the chapter.

"The address was read by Mrs. (Lieut-Col) Campbell as follows:

"Lieut-Col. J.W. Little—It seems most fitting that you, on behalf of the Seventh Regiment Fusiliers, should receive the tablet erected by the Seventh Regiment Fusiliers Chapter, Imperial Order, Daughters of the Empire, to the late drum-major, Sergt. John Cockburn.

"In the past you ably commanded this regiment, and as drum-major Sergt. John Cockburn served most loyally his King and country under you. Consequently the ladies of the regiment chapter are confident that you will deem it most patriotic to thus honor him who met such a tragic death in his endeavor to save property.

"To honor the memory of a loyal soldier of the Seventh Regiment Fusiliers we now unveil this tablet and present it to the Seventh Regiment Fusiliers of London, Ontario.

"On behalf of the Seventh Regiment Fusiliers Chapter, Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire.

"Mrs. Eva York Campbell, regent, "Mrs. E.A. Caltraith, secretary.

"The actual unveiling was performed by Mrs. W.A. McCrimmon.

"Died a Hero.

"Lieut.-Col. Little in his reply expressed his appreciation of the honor conferred upon him in allowing him to represent the regiment to which the tablet was presented, He said:

"Mrs. Campbell and ladies of the Seventh Regiment Fusiliers Chapter, I.O.D.E., you have done me a great honor in asking me to accept on behalf of the Seventh Regiment this beautiful tablet erected to the memory of the late Drum-Major Cockburn.

""You are quite right in saying that when I commanded the regiment, Drum-Major Cockburn served most loyally. He was always zealous and energetic and with his large heart, which corresponded with his immense frame, he was ready and anxious at all times to do anything he could to help a comrade or benefit the regiment.

"He gave his life to assist others and is entitled to as much honor as if he died on the field of battle. It is most creditable to the ladies of your chapter that you have recognized this and have gone to the trouble of erecting this tablet in his memory.

"I have much pleasure in accepting on behalf of the officers, N.C.O.'s and men of Seventh Regiment this tablet, which I am sure they will value very highly and guard as carefully as the colors of the regiment.

The memorial tablet to John Cockburn was originally unveiled in the London Armouries. Today, the outer walls of the Armouries survive, but the interior is now rebuilt as a major hotel. The plaque, however, survives and can be seen in the Quiet Room of The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum.

In 1958, Maud Cockburn is shown living at 865 Queen's Ave. She is perhaps a lodger now herself, the other residents at the address are Mrs. and Mrs. Edwin Adair.

John Cockburn's widow, Maud May, died in London in 1959. The Cockburns are buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, London, Ont., where they share a plot and a single headstone with Maud's parents. Engraved 50 years after his death, Cockburn's rank is in error on the headstone, It shows a conflating of the rank he held at the time of his death (Sergeant) and the appointment he held for years with the 7th Fusiliers (Drum-Major) to read "Sgt./Maj."

Pro Patria

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