Ypres Gas Attack Survivor Returns Home

Part Two of Two

Six months after surviving the battle at St. Julien, Belgium, and the German gas attack in 1915, something entirely different brought Captain Stanley Bagg Lindsay (1889-1965) to his knees. He slipped and fell in the trenches while on active duty, and needed surgery on a hernia on his left side. He was officially declared unfit for duty and was granted sick leave to recover back home in Montreal, Quebec, for the winter.

Stanley Lindsay – winter 1916

Within months of his return to England, the hernia recurred on his right side needing immediate surgery and his health never fully recovered after that. Several bouts of influenza also plagued him throughout the war, before and after his hernias, and weakened him for the rest of his life.

He was 29 when the war ended. He returned to Montreal, but did not resume his studies at McGill University, choosing instead to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a stockbroker. His salary as a Captain had brought in an average of $142 per month during his four years of service. This translates into $3900 per month in today’s dollars. He quite possibly returned to civilian life with a decent nest egg with which to begin his new career.

Stanley’s health issues did not appear to hinder his long career as a stockbroker and eventually he became a partner at Crutchlow, Deare & Co. According to family lore, he purposefully sold off the family’s portfolio of stock investments just before the Great Crash of 1929.1 Perhaps his war experience left him with some kind of sixth sense.

Although Stanley never married, he remained close to his two brothers (and their families) and his three sisters.

Two of his sisters, Marjorie and Marguerite, had been nurses during the war with the Information Bureau,2 a Canadian Red Cross organization in London which cared for Canadian soldiers. Marguerite died young in Cartwright, Labrador, in 1926 while volunteering with the Grenfell Mission.3

Stanley lived with Marjorie and their parents at 455 Sherbrooke Street West (previously known as The Prince of Wales Terrace) until their father’s death in 1931. Then they moved with their mother into an apartment at 1009 Sherbrooke Street West until her death in 1938 and remained there until their own deaths: Marjorie in 1961 and Stanley in 1965. His eldest sister Ada lived in Vancouver with her husband Julius Griffith and their only son, Julius, who became a well known Canadian artist.4

Stanley’s two brothers – my grandfather Sydenham5 (an Anglican priest) and Lionel (a pediatrician) – provided him with ten nieces and nephews to spoil. He absolutely adored my mother Ann and showered her with his love and gifts. He must have been devastated when she died of Hodgkin’s Disease at the age of 36 in November, 1961, having lost his sister Marjorie earlier that year.

Stanley Lindsay (far right) at Ann’s baby’s christening party 1953

Luckily for me, he devoted his free time to the family history. I have pages upon pages of his beautifully (legible!) handwritten notes about that side of our family. All the usual dates and facts were recorded, but in a clear, more descriptive fashion.

One of his pages about his grandmother, Catherine Mitcheson Bagg, recalled a visit to her home as a boy:

We can remember her well sitting at the front drawing room window at Fairmount with her white lace cap on, looking out at the people passing.

We used to play in Granny’s garden. There were apple trees, especially one which was easy to climb and play house in. There was an iron bench under it, painted blue green…. There was a chestnut tree which we loved, the summer house, the white statutes of Adam and Eve with no arms, … the bleeding hearts, snowballs and lilacs … Nora the housemaid and Jessie the cook, who made good ladies fingers and sponge cakes and who we could always see through large sunken window which gave light to the kitchen.

There were the stables, the horses, the rockaway and the brougham and Willis the coachman with white mutton chop whiskers whom we liked and who afterwards drove a wagon for Joyce the confectioner. We were very fond of Odell Comtois who did sewing…. She was practically one of the family.

The garden became very shabby. It seemed a large garden to us. It went as far as our house which was at the corner of Milton Street. The west side adjoined the Wilson-Smith property. Long before our house was built, a large house called Tara Hall stood just north of Milton Street. Mother [Mary Heloise (Bagg) Lindsay] remembers it burning down one night when she was a child. Where the house used to stand is a street called Tara Hall.”

As well as being everyone’s favourite uncle, an excellent family historian and a successful stockbroker, Stanley belonged to several local clubs including the Canadian Club, the University Club and the Royal Montreal Golf Club.6

After almost dying at Ypres during the Great War, Stanley lived another fifty years.

1https://wiki2.org/en/The_Crash_of_1929 – as referenced 2023-02-23



4https://www.gallery.ca/collection/artist/julius-griffith – as referenced 2023-02-23


6Obituary – The Gazette, 1965-03-03

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