This series contains three scrapbooks that were assembled by Gordon Skilling to document the history of his family.
The first, titled ‘Dad Skilling (W. W. Skilling) and his father, John Skilling’, documents the history of the family from 1828 until 1927. It includes poems,
correspondence, photographs, telegrams; birth, baptismal and citizenship certificates, and wills documenting the history of the family from the time William Watt Skilling’s grandfather left Leith in Scotland about 1828, through his move to London and, subsequently, the family’s emigration to Canada in 1907 and eventually to Toronto. It ends with correspondence and documents relating to deaths in 1917 of John Skilling and Gordon’s brother, Donald, killed in action at the age of 19, and subsequent correspondence relating to John’s estate.
The second and third scrapbooks were compiled later in life by Gordon Skilling as a memorial to Donald; they also contain material relating to his brother, William, who was seriously wounded in battle but recovered. The second scrapbook contains photographs of Donald’s childhood and youth, and as a member of the 81st Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force; letters and postcards home while training in England and later from France, along with a diary (1916), a copy of the CEF’s Regimental Songs, 1914-1915, press clippings and memorabilia. There are also some letters from William and, finally, telegrams and letters to family from military authorities on Donald’s death.
The third scrapbook contains letters to Donald from his brother, Will, and his comrades, the nurse, commanding officer and chaplain and official letters concerning his grave, personal affects and estate. There are also letters of sympathy from relatives and friends. There are also a number of photographs, including ones of the temporary marker at his gravesite at Aubigny and later photographs of the permanent marker during taken during a family visit in 1919.