On The War Memorial Trail….. A Photo For WWI Soldier James Cairns

December 4, 2022. When Pieter began researching the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion in 2015, he hoped to be able to put a face and story to each of the 48 names.  Over the years he was able to research each name, and we’ve told the story of each one, plus shared our visits made to the graves or memorials for many of them.

Unfortunately, up to now, photos for several have never been found.  The Cenotaph Wall of Remembrance in the Borden-Carleton Legion, which displays the photos of the men listed on the Cenotaph, has empty frames for those photos waiting to be found.

…The 7 year search for a photo of WW1 soldier James Cairns…

20221130_194445 Empty Frame

Empty frame awaiting a photo of WWI soldier James Cairns.  (Photo credit: Kathy Henry)

One of those for which a photo was missing was James CAIRNS, born February 22, 1897 in Kinkora, the son of Thomas Cairns and Mary Jane MacDonald.  He later went to Manitoba to work, joining his brother Edward, a farmer, in Cartwright, Manitoba.

While living in Manitoba, WWI broke out, and James he enlisted in July 1916 with the 190th Battalion Manitoba Regiment (which later became what we know as the Royal Winnipeg Rifles). He was killed on August 9, 1918 in France during the Battle of Amiens, and is buried in Manitoba Cemetery in Caix, France.  We visited this cemetery in 2017. (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2017/09/30/the-search-for-manitoba-cemetery/)

CIMG8561 Pte James Cairns

The grave of James Cairns at Manitoba Cemetery in Caix, France. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

…Various media appeals were not successful…

Inquiries and appeals for a photo were unsuccessful. Although James had 7 siblings, Pieter ran into one dead end after another.  On October 8, 2020, Vicki Wallace, editor of the Southern Manitoba Review in Cartwright, Manitoba, published Pieter’s letter to the editor.  (Unfortunately, this publication ceased publication at the end of 2021.)

Letter to the editor re James Cairns

While no photo of James Cairns resulted from the letter, Vicki Wallace did some research on Edward Cairns, the brother of James. Edward died on June 3, 1929 in a tragic farming accident, leaving behind a widow, Lily Victoria nee McKelvey, and several children, the youngest just 16 months old at the time of Edward’s death.

On November 11, 2021, Kevin Rollason of the Winnipeg Free Press put out an appeal for a photo at the end of an article about a very successful photo search for WWII soldier Edmond Coulombe, but we weren’t lucky twice.  (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2021/12/24/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-successful-search-for-a-photo-of-ww2-soldier-edmond-coulombe/)

We even tried a YouTube video appeal.  (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2020/12/17/the-search-for-a-photo-of-james-cairns-moves-to-youtube/)

…Success when the grandchildren of Edward Cairns sent a photo…

Then, with the help of Judie Klassen, family members of Edward’s son Alvin were found.  Sisters Kelly Slade and Shannon Cairns Zemp got in contact, and Shannon sent a photo of James and their grandfather Edward.  “…Our brother Patrick had the photo…” she explained.

Her father Alvin received it from a family member on a trip made to the Island with an 18 year old Shannon in 1990. “...My dad, Alvin Walter and my Mom, Patricia, were searching for members of the Cairns Family – which is how we have the picture that we have of James and Edward. I want to thank you Pieter for remembering James and I thank you for your hard work…

Coloured photo James and Edward Cairns

James Cairns (left) with his older brother Edward. (Photo courtesy of the Cairns Family.  Photo colourization: Pieter Valkenburg)

…10 photos are still to be found for the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion….

The photo of James Cairns will soon be in that empty frame on the Legion wall, and Pieter hopes that more of the empty frames will be filled over the coming year. “…Unfortunately, photos for 8 from WWI and 2 from WWII have yet to be found….” he said.  Can YOU help with this photo wish list?

Names still without faces from WWI

  • Leigh Hunt CAMERON, born in Albany
  • James Lymon CAMERON, born in Victoria
  • William Galen CAMPBELL, born in Wellington
  • Bazil CORMIER, born in Tignish
  • Joseph Arthur DESROCHES, born in Miscouche
  • Charles LOWTHER, born in North Carleton
  • Arthur Clinton ROBINSON, born in Tryon
  • Harry ROBINSON, born in Augustine Cove

Names still without faces from WWII

  • Leonard Stephen AVERY, born in Bedeque
  • Ernest Ramey GALLANT, born in Borden

A huge thank you goes out to Shannon Cairns Zemp for providing a photo on behalf of the family, to Vicki Wallace for publishing the letter to the editor in the Southern Manitoba Review and researching what happened to Edward Cairns, and to Judie Klassen for researching Edward’s descendants. If you can help with the photo search request or have a story to tell, please let Pieter know. Email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.   

…Want to follow our research?….

If you are reading this posting, but aren’t following the blog, you are welcome to do so.  See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/ or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog. 

Front cover OnTheWarMememorialTrailinEuropeDaria’s book ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten‘ is available in print and e-book formats.  Net proceeds of book sales help support research costs and the cost of maintaining this blog. For more information on the book, please see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/

You are also invited to subscribe to our YouTube Channel: On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ591TyjSheOR-Cb_Gs_5Kw

© Daria Valkenburg


One thought on “On The War Memorial Trail….. A Photo For WWI Soldier James Cairns

  1. Pingback: On The War Memorial Trail…..A Photo For WWII Soldier Leonard Stephen Avery | On The War Memorial Trail Research Project…….. with Pieter and Daria Valkenburg

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