Fonds 1068 - Gerald Edward Blake fonds

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UTA 1068


Gerald Edward Blake fonds


  • 1892-1921 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

1.87 m of textual, graphic and cartographic records; publications; artifacts (7 boxes and 3 files)

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Gerald Edward Blake was born in Toronto on May 28, 1892, the eldest son of Edward Francis Blake and Ethel Mary Benson. His father, Edward Blake (1860-1905) was the son of the Hon. Edward Blake, former Chancellor of the University of Toronto, and partner in the law firm Blake, Lash & Cassels. His mother was the eldest daughter of Judge Thomas M. Benson of Port Hope, and step sister of Clara Benson (See B2003-0008). The Blake family was also related to the Wrong family through the marriage of Edward Blake’s sister Sophia Hume to George M. Wrong, professor of history at the University of Toronto. (See B2003-0005).

Gerald Blake’s early education was at Ridley College, St. Catherines from which he graduated in 1910. In the fall, he entered the University of Toronto with double scholarship in Classics and Mathematics and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1914. During his years at the University he was a member of Kappa Alpha Fraternity, along with his cousins, Hume Wrong and Harold V. Wrong. He was studying law at Osgoode Hall when war broke out in 1914. He left for England in June, 1915 to join the British Expeditionary Force. During his time overseas, he became engaged to Katherine Ogden Jones and spent his last leave with her and his aunt, Emily Morris, in England during the spring of 1916.

He was commissioned as 2nd Lieut. 4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on July 22, 1915. He fought in France and Flanders from 31 October 1915 and was promoted to Lieutenant on April 1, 1916 and Captain on 13 July 1916. He was killed in action at Pozières during the Battle of the Somme on July 23, 1916. He was buried in Mash Valley, “1,250 yards due west of the centre of Pozières.” [1].

[1] The roll of honour. A biographical record of all members of His Majesty’s Naval and Military forces who have fallen in the War. Volume II. By The Marquis de Ruvigny (London: n.d.). Gerald Blake is recorded on page 31.

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Fonds consists of 3 accessions

B2003-0023 (7 boxes, 1892-1921): This accession documents the short life of Gerald Edward Blake from his birth in 1892, his education at Ridley College and the University of Toronto, to his death on the battlefields of France during World War I in 1916. Series 1 and 3 contain his diaries and correspondence to family members in which he describes his experiences at school, his trips to Britain and France in 1913 and most significantly, his 13 months of service during World War I. The majority of his letters are to his mother during his months overseas, but there are also letters to his sisters, Margaret (1893-1963), Constance (1896-1979) and his brother, Verschoyle (1899-1971). Some of these letters are attached to typescript copies, prepared by his brother Verschoyle prior to 1971. Capt. Blake also sent postcards annotated by him which provide a photographic record of British army life in camp, as well as official coloured war service postcards of the British army in action. Other postcards of street scenes in France and Britain helped to illustrate the places he had been including the town of Pozières near which he was killed in 1916 (Series 5). Other war records include his military orders and notes while at the front, and his copy of active service bible. Correspondence and photographs also document his close friendship with his cousins Hume Wrong (1894 – 1954; BA 1915) and Harold Wrong (b.1891; BA 1913), who was also killed in action in July 1916. After Gerald’s death, Hume Wrong assisted Mrs. Blake in making arrangements for her son’s grave site in France and sent home photographs of the cemetery which he visited in 1920-1921 (Series 5). In addition, Mrs. Blake received other remembrances of her son’s service such as a commemorative medal from the British Army, a copy of the history of his battalion’s service in the War and a copy of Volume II of the British Roll of Honour (Series 4).

B2004-0028 (2 files, 1902-1914): Original diploma of Gerald Blake awarded for Bachelor of Arts degree, University of Toronto, 1914; photocopies of letters from Gerald Blake's father, Edward Francis Blake, to administrators at schools (St. Andrews College, and Ridley College) attended by Gerald Blake, 1902-1904. (Photocopies are from original letterbook of E.F. Blake to be given to the Archives of Ontario).

B2006-0025 (1 file, 1915): Four letters written by Gerald Blake to his sister, Constance and his mother in 1915 while serving in W.W. I. Also includes typescript of "Dedicatory Prayer" on death of Gerald Blake.

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Finding aid for accession B2003-0023 is linked below. No finding aid for other accessions.

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