This sous-fonds documents the activities of various members of the Skilling family, principally Gordon’s father, William Watt Skilling, and brothers, Andrew Douglas and Edward Donald Skilling; his uncle, Ernest John Skilling, and his (Ernest’s) mother, Emma Louise Skilling. Included is correspondence, biographical and other notes, programmes for wedding anniversaries, obituaries, a will, photographs, a photograph album, and a box of mementos of military service during World War I.
The photo album was assembled by Ernest John Skilling and begins with a trip he made to the western United States in 1926 to a Shriner’s convention. The trip back across Canada by train includes images of ‘Hindus [in] British Columbia’, of the Royal North West Mounted Police, Indian chiefs in regalia, the Rocky Mountains, the prairies, northern Ontario and Lake Superior. The album concludes with photos taken during a tour of Kentucky and Alabama and Tennessee by the 48th Highlanders; photos of the Canadian Expeditionary Force cemetery in France and Donald Skilling’s grave, taken on a family visit to the site in 1919; and of ‘natives in Africa’, showing domestic and hunting activities associated with the missionary work of Reverend Albert Wilkinson. Many of the photoprints in the album have detailed information written on the backs thereof.
The box of military service mementos belonged to Gordon’s brother, Private Edward Donald Skilling, #157689, 1st Battalion, Canadian Infantry, Canadian Expeditionary Force, who was killed on his first day in action at the front on 4 May, 1917. It contains the following items: a Queen’s Own Rifles pin (Donald spent 6 months with the QOR before the war as a bugler in its bugle band); his ‘dog tag’ (1st Battalion); a shoulder badge – ‘Canada’ [CEF]; two hat badges, one marked ‘Canada’ and the other ‘111, Canada’ [111th Battalion] (probably a souvenir); two brass buttons (tunic and cuff); a piece of soldier’s ration; a hollow candle of the type used in dugouts in the trenches; a .303 calibre bullet and a shell fragment; two medals – the British War Medal and the Victory Medal (Inter-Allied War Medal), each inscribed on the rim: ‘157689 Pte. E. D. Skilling 1-Can. Inf.’, and a silver cross presented to Donald’s parents in his memory by the Minister of Militia and Defence.