Peaceful pastime: First World War hero Art Ritchie feeds the ducks at McGuire Lake.

Peaceful pastime: First World War hero Art Ritchie feeds the ducks at McGuire Lake.

Tour speaks well of the dead

Deborah Chapman is up to one of her favourite fall activities – preparing to take people on her annual “Speak of the Dead” tour

Deborah Chapman is up to one of her favourite fall activities – preparing to take people on her annual “Speak of the Dead” tour.

The Salmon Arm Museum and R.J. Haney Heritage Village curator  has been reviewing the cast list, checking her candidates, making sure all are still available, and preparing for a walk through one of the prettiest knolls in Salmon Arm, the Mt. Ida Cemetery.

This year the tour will acknowledge the debt owed to those who served in the First World War. Featured will be war veteran Arthur Brown Ritchie, who made service a lifelong habit.

When the First World War broke out, Ritchie was working in Pavilion as a cow rancher. A century later the events leading up to his enlistment are condensed and mostly forgotten.

What is remembered is that he saddled his horse, rode the 145 kilometres from Pavilion to Kamloops, and joined the B.C. Horse Mounted Infantry. The ride must have been urgent. According to his daughter Mary Wetherill, Ritchie was with the first contingent.

When asked  the name of his horse, Wetherill replied, “It might have been Taffy,” lamenting that her brother and sister were no longer available to remember. Those details are gone.

What details Wetherill could figure out were preserved when she wrote her father’s biography for the Okanagan Historical Society Report #63. The former school teacher wrote of an inspiring man who served his country, his employer and his family.

“When he transferred to the First Battalion, Third Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, he saw action at Ypres, the Somme, and Vimy Ridge,” Wetherill said.

During his service, Ritchie was gassed twice and wounded three times.

Risking life and limb must have seemed like second nature to the soldier. After his unit retreated at Ypres under heavy gunfire,  Ritchie twice returned to free men and horses from an immobilized wagon. He then carried a wounded soldier to safety. Ritchie was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, an award for gallantry in the field in 1915.

In 1917, Ritchie served with the soldiers of all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Vimy Ridge. Records show 3,598 Canadian soldiers were killed and 7,004 were wounded. In the midst of mayhem, Ritchie noticed a fire had started in an Allied gun pit. He returned to the pit to extinguish the threat,  earning the Military Medal for bravery in battle on land.

Ritchie’s memories of the war were committed to letters and postcards to his sweetheart, Olive Belond at home. Sgt.  A.B. Ritchie returned to Canada an invalid, needing surgery to remove shrapnel from his leg.

After convalescing in New Westminster, he married Olive in 1918. The couple made Salmon Arm their home, purchasing 80 acres on (North) Broadview through the Soldiers Settlement Board.

More than 20 years later, war erupted in Europe again, and at 45 years of age, Ritchie  enlisted once more. He was commissioned as a lieutenant with the No. 7 Company and sent to Scotland to serve with the Forestry Corps, milling lumber for the war effort.

Wetherill says the soldiers called her father “Pop” with affection, a nod to his apparently advancing age. By 1943, Ritchie was promoted to Captain and transferred to No. 17 Company.

By the spring of 1944, both companies returned to Canada where Ritchie engaged in another kind of service. Retired from the military, he went on to serve as parade marshall for Remembrance Day services, councillor for the municipality of Salmon Arm, MLA in the Coalition Government (1945-52), and Salmon Arm reeve (1962-63). It is no surprise that Arthur Brown Ritchie was made Salmon Arm’s Citizen of the Year in 1958.

Ritchie’s story is one of many told during the annual cemetery tour. Join Chapman at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5 in the old section of Mt. Ida Cemetery. Tickets are  $7.50 and space is limited, so call 250-832-5243 to reserve your spot.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Larch Place is the first building to be built in the BC Housing, Canadian Mental Health Association housing project at the corner of Third Street SW and Fifth Avenue SW. This view is from the Shuswap Street side where it sits behind the Graystone East building. (File photo)
Opening of doors at new housing development in Salmon Arm welcomed

BC Housing announces opening of 32 rental units, with 35 more expected in summer 2021

Calls for potential overdoses in B.C. spiked in 2020, especially in the Okanagan - Shuswap. Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. (BCHES photo)
UBCO program increases drug checking availability in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon

January 2021 data shows of 95 opioid samples tested across Interior Health, 93 contained fentanyl

Youth from Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and the Kootenays were able to dig into two evenings of online learning and connection through United Way Southern Interior B.C.’s <CODE>anagan program. (Submitted)<code> </code>
CODEanagan gives youth a chance to learn about technology

The youth, aged 12 to 21, built their own WordPress sites and developed blogging ideas

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

A concept drawing released by the District of Sicamous shows plans for the replacement of the recently demolished Beach Park washroom facilities. (District of Sicamous image)
Province gets behind new washroom, concession for Sicamous Beach Park

New facility will be sloped, covered with grass, for public seating

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, before she knew she would change literature. Photo Wikipedia
And Then There Were None

What book knocked your booties off when you were young?

A webinar on dealing with dementia will be held Wednesday, March 10, 2021 (Submitted)
Webinar on dementia scheduled for March 10

Okanagan residents invited to event on legal issues surrounding dementia

The BC SPCA is offering many chances for school-aged kids to learn about animal welfare and other animal topics. Pictured here is Keith, a three-month-old kitten seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
From pets to wildlife, BC SPCA offers animal education programs geared to youth

BC SPCA offering virtual spring break camps, workshops and school presentations

Nanaimo-raised singer Allison Crowe with director Zack Snyder on the set of ‘Man of Steel’ in 2011. Crowe performs a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in the upcoming director’s cut of ‘Justice League.’ (Photo courtesy Clay Enos)
B.C. musician records song for upcoming ‘Justice League’ film

Allison Crowe’s close connection to director led to rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

Most Read