I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me at familyphotoreunion [ at ] yahoo [ dot ] com. I hope you enjoy your visit!
~The Archivist

Friday, May 4, 2012

Two Obituaries, Two Funerals: Guy Warwick Rutter, Toronto, Ontario, 1893-1952

I knew this was one I had to pick up when I saw it at a Vancouver antique store.  The image was wonderful.  The carte de visite was clearly labelled with a full name on the back, photographer and location (Herbert E. Simpson, 143 College Street, Toronto) on the front.  And that bonnet!  So cute.

The young fellow's name is Guy Warwick Rutter and because of that unique name, he was fairly easy to trace.  According to the Ontario Births Index on Ancestry, Guy Warwick Rutter came into the world on the 1st of February 1893 in York County, son of Arthur F. Rutter and Isabell J. Bell.

The Rutter family lived in Toronto in 1901.  Guy had two older siblings:  Fred, born on Boxing Day, 1880 and Alice, born 21 July 1882.  In 1911, the Canada Census reports that eighteen-year-old Guy is already employed as a clerk at a city bank.  In just four short years, the young man would be enlisting to fight overseas in The Great War. Guy joined the Canadian Army on July 14, 1915 at Valcartier, Quebec at 22 years of age.  He reached the rank of Lieutenant in the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles.

In the June 8th, 1916 issue of the Globe & Mail newspaper, the following photo and story appeared: 

The problem with Globe and Mail report, was that it was wrong on one little detail.  Guy was not dead.  Wounded, yes.  His right arm and leg were severely damaged in the Battle of Mount Sorrel (east of Ypres, Belgium) in June of 1916. He spent just over a year in treatment.  While Guy was in an overseas hospital mending his limbs, family and friends attended his funeral at St. Paul's Anglican Church in Toronto.  I wonder how the family learned that Guy was still alive.  It must have been quite the shock.

On September 17, 1918, Guy married 22 year-old Mary Marguerite Scott in Toronto [Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1928].

In "On Active Service:  Ideals of Canada's Fighting Men," edited by Hon. Captain Alex Ketterson and published by McClelland & Stewart in 1918, Guy used the following poem excerpt for his selection in the book:

Better to fall in some great glorious storm 
With one grand crash of strength and mind, and will 
Than let time slowly bend the aged form 
And write the last word with a worn out quill. 

According to an obituary in the Globe & Mail on January 21, 1952, Guy Warwick Rutter passed away on  Sunday, January 20th, 1952 in Toronto at age 59. Left to mourn were his wife, Mary, two children, and his sister, Alice.  He was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. But the Guy Warwick Rutter tale doesn't end there. In 2006, CBC News ran a story about a collection of his war letters and cartoons selling to an antique dealer for $5500.  I don't know if the items purchased by the dealer have sold yet, but I did find the listing for the collection online.  The dealer's marked up asking price? $15,000.


  1. What a story! I'm sure the identification of the wounded and dead during the Great War was still a "hit and miss" proposition.

    Makes you wonder though, who it was that actually died. I presume there was a dead body - and it may still be one of those "lost in action, no remains found."

    The cute little boy in the dress certainly doesn't make one think, "going to grow up to be a soldier!"

  2. What a stroke of luck that I found this post! Guy Rutter was my great-great-uncle.

    When he was recuperating in hospital from his wounds, he was placed in a nicer bed than those given to privates, due to his rank. Next to him, in one of the less comfortable beds, there was a private who was suffering greatly from his wounds. Guy gave up his nicer bed to this private, who ended up dying of his wounds. This is where the mistake was made; because Guy was in the wrong bed, he was the one recorded as having died. When he read his own obituary in the papers, he telegraphed back home to let his family know that he was still alive.

    Guy's daughter (my great aunt) is still alive, and I would love to be able to surprise her with this photograph. Is there any way that I can get in touch with you via e-mail to discuss this?